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THE 10 MOST COMMON MISTAKES MADE WHEN HIRING A KEYNOTE SPEAKER

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If you’ve ever sat through a presentation that left you wondering if you showed up at the wrong venue, most likely the organiser and planner didn’t put much thought into hiring the right keynote speaker. When investing in a keynote speaker you want to get the most bang for your buck, especially considering some of the exorbitant and inflated fees, so here’s some common mistakes to avoid.

Booking on name only

Just because everyone knows the speaker, doesn’t make them a good fit. If you are putting on a church symposium you probably wouldn’t want to book a certain speaker we know who likes to swear on stage, irrespective of the audience.

Hiring a speaker based on what someone told you about a speaker they recently saw

Just because the speaker gave a great performance elsewhere, doesn’t mean their content would be relevant to your upcoming event. We get this quite a few times and often the booker hears this from a colleague and now they think this speaker is perfect for their event.

Hiring an “expert” who isn’t a speaker

Just because someone knows their stuff doesn’t mean they can speak in front of a large crowd. Many experts are downright boring, think this should be a title for my potential book. Make sure your expert also has extensive speaking experience. We have lost clients because a speaker was soooooooooo boring, or thanked the wrong client even though banners and marketing was clearly visible and then delivered a terrible talk.

Not asking for references

A professional speaker will have a wide range of references available. Check them out to be sure you are getting the right fit for your audience. A booker should where possible ask for previous clients contact details to gain a reference and speak to them in-person, a "testimonial" can be made up on any platform. speak to a real person and check their credentials of the event. Basically, we suggest do your research into the speaker and get as much supporting information as possible, it is your reputation as the booker or bureau on the line to LOSE a client.

Ask for a bad review - if a speaker says they have never had one, then ask a Bureau as they will have some on certain speakers.

Not being clear of the objectives for the Speech

A good speaker will make certain they have your objective in the forefront of their mind when they are preparing their presentation. You want your audience to walk away with some clearly defined action items to help them after the event. Similarly, some of the top speakers have a “canned” talk that is incredible because they do it over and over again. However, if you have a theme or strategy around your conference, many of these speakers will not meet with you before the event to really understand your company, audience or goals of the event.

Booking a speaker that has already given 10 talks in your industry

You can make the mistake of booking a speaker that just gave a similar talk to 50% of your audience 3 weeks ago. How to lose engagement of an audience instantly. We have seen this with a large financial institution that has used certain speakers regularly without considering their audience needs and then wonder why feedback is less than optimal.

Hiring a speaker based on a committee decision

Not a good idea unless you don’t want any one person to be responsible for a negative performance or review by the audience.

Not considering the speaker’s influence

Make sure you talk to the speaker about their online influence before you book him or her. One Tweet or Facebook post to 100,000 people could make a big difference for your company, only if relevant to your business. Also, bear in mind and use a company to research their followers as the demographic of audience might not apply to you and often "influencers or such" just use numbers like gas lighting.

However, you also need to consider that social media posts can be misleading

Cutting corners on budget

Sure, budgets are tight, but this is one place you’ll want to make sure you keep enough money to land an amazing, impactful speaker. "Pay peanuts, you get the....." We do suggest that you ASK the speaker to clarify and explain in detail the ROI (return on investment) they guarantee for the fee they are charging. You have to have a measurable outcome from hiring a speaker to justify the expense, unless it is purely a tax write off then why worry about a budget at all. If a speaker cannot properly explain how they can guarantee a ROI then find alternative speakers.

A general motivational speaker will just provide a short lived "feel good" or inspiring feeling, often these are to close an event on a high and you don't need to break the bank to find one. These are storytellers and I refer back to a previous point of using a boring or terrible storyteller. Everyone has a life story, just depends how much you willing to pay to hear it.

Hiring a speaker based on the lowest price

This is the worst consideration! If your speaker is free, then they are probably worth every penny of that. With a downturned economy, a lot of people are willing to present what they know for lower fees or even free, just to get in front of people they can punt their services to. It will be a sales pitch. You Get What You Pay For!

The trick is to find a balance of what your expectations are (to have a possible WOW effect) and what this will cost vs. a ROI. You, as the event booker want to keep your client for repeat business and most of the time a speaker is a single use product, so do the research, ask the questions and ensure you have the one that will make you look like a superstar for that WOW factor.

In summary – when investing in your next keynote speaker, be careful to avoid these common mistakes. Otherwise, your audience might start looking for the exit doors.

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