Questions to Ask When Hiring a Speaker
So, you have an event or conference coming up and it’s time to hire a speaker. Hiring a speaker is a big undertaking and it’s important to choose the right one that will touch on the needs of your audience and engage them.
I’ve put together a few questions to ask your speaker candidates that will make the vetting process easier for you. Let’s go!
What is your background, story, and expertise?
Knowing the background of a speaker is important, not only to know if the speaker will be relevant to your audience, but this information establishes their credibility. It’s not about what people do, but why they do it.
There are speakers who are motivational and inspirational, but what makes someone an expert on the topic is important as well. As you vet speakers, here are some additional questions to ask as you research the speaker: “Have you been a part of an event like this in the past?” “How did you get started in speaking?” “Why do you share on this topic?” “Why is the message you’re sharing important to you?” “What separates you from other speakers to share on this topic?”
What is your presentation style and approach?
There is no wrong presentation style, but there are personal preferences and formats that work best for certain events! You want to make sure that the approach of the speaker is the right one for your audience. Some speakers have a lot of energy, some are interactive, and some provide Q&A at the end of a session. Knowing what your audience will enjoy or what they currently need is key in picking out a speaker.
Some speakers have a preference for staying on stage or wandering the audience during a presentation. Some use music and video, as well.
Here are some questions to ask a speaker to learn more about their presentation style and speaking approach: “How do you engage with the audience while on stage?” “What equipment or stage set-up will you need for the event?” “Do you use a podium when on stage?” “Do you use slides during your presentations?” “Do you utilize any additional multimedia (videos, music, etc) during your presentation?” “Overall, how do you present your content?”
How will the presentation be customized for my audience?
This piece ties into the first question we discussed. Not only should a speaker have expertise or experience in a specific space, but their content should be tailored to your audience depending on the challenges they’re currently facing personally or professionally. Most of the time, speakers will host pre-event calls to discuss the topic and how it will address the needs of the audience. The speaker will look for your insight as the event planner to personalize the message. No amount of information provided to the speaker is too much.
If you’re a teacher, you can assign homework or do a project in the week before the event on the subject of the presentation. This ensures that the students are excited and ready to retain information. Ultimately, you want to make sure that you’re picking a speaker that has a presentation that the audience is craving. Ask the speaker the right questions to ensure the event hits the target including: “How customized is your presentation to my audience?” “What information can I provide you about my audience that may be helpful?” “What process do you go through to prepare to speak to an audience?”
How Do You Encourage Action Following an Event?
A speaker’s presentation is only as good as the lasting impact it makes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve personally attended an event or conference where I’ve been inspired in the moment, but days later there was no actual change in my life.
It’s important for speakers to keep the energy and momentum going after the presentation! Speakers should not only think about the day of their speech, but how they can affect your audience long-term. I’ve put together a list of questions for you so you can discover how a speaker follows up with your audience and ensures lasting motivation for your audience. Questions to ask: “What additional resources do you provide to allow my audience to continue working in this area?” “Do you offer follow-up presentations for my audience?” “Are there any digital courses, webinars, or social media content that keep the momentum going on the presentation topic?”
Have you spoken to audiences similar to mine?
The answer to this question doesn’t necessarily rule speakers out completely because even speakers new to your space can be effective. However, the more experience a speaker has had sharing with an audience in your industry, the more they have been able to prove that they can meet the needs of your group.
An additional question to ask is, “can you tell me about a time that an audience didn’t receive your message as well as you would have wanted?” The answer you receive will allow you to see how the speaker responds to feedback. It will also help you anticipate how they might handle issues or unexpected variables which is a huge part of being a successful speaker.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darryl is an International Speaker, Author, Husband, Father, and Founder of the Fearless Inside movement. Darryl uses his experience as a student leader, and the thousands of fears collected from students to help them act beyond their worries and fears
Darryl's Fearless Inside movement has inspired thousands of students to have more fearless moments.
Learn more about the movement here.