Getting the best value from your keynote speaker

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Comedian, Sally Phillips at the Conference Awards 2019

Director of Performing Artistes, Lauralee Whyte, shares her experience of getting the most from a keynote speaker

So often we’re asked to provide recommendations for an industry or thought leader to deliver, either the opening energizer speech to get the audience buzzing for the rest of the day, or provide a climactic final message to send them on their way.

Usually the brief we’re given is brimming with buzzwords such as ‘Disruption’, ‘Inspiration’, ‘Leadership’, ‘Innovation’, all of which glean little insight into what you (the end client or event planner) are actually looking for.

Here are 4 key things to remember when working with your Speaker Consultant, so to ensure you get the most value from your speaker, and crucially, for your audience to experience the most engaging content possible.

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  • Who is your audience?

Seems like a very obviously question but frequently, the answer given is something like

’65:35, M:F ratio, aged between 30-70, Finance professionals’….

Great – but what do these people like? As finance professionals, do they really want another finance professional telling them what they already know? Could someone from a complementary industry or specialism deliver a message which is relatable to them, while providing a new angle?

  • What is the ultimate message you would like your audience to leave with?

Keynote speakers will have their usual stock lectures and titles, and invariably one of these can be shoehorned into the overall theme. However, any passionate speaker will want to ensure that their speech is bespoke to your event and audience. For a speaker to be able to do this well, they need to be given a clear and concise brief on what exactly it is that you would like your audience to leave with, as well as the map for that journey. For example, if it’s Innovation –try to be specific. Is there a specific angle; new technology, new systems/processes? Would this be within internal operations, the customer journey, as part of a change management programme? It’s important to keep the focus to 1 or 2 predominant lessons so that your audience isn’t overwhelmed with information.

Karishma Vaswani, Asia business correspondent of BBC World News, chairs the session Asian Capital Going Global during the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference (BFA) in Boao, south China’s Hainan Province, March 24, 2016. Credit: Yang Guanyu/Xinhua/Alamy Live News
  • How to get the most from your speaker before the event has even started?

Wherever possible, and depending on their profile, it’s great if you can get the speaker to help promote your event…especially if they are the main attraction! The key is to ascertain BEFORE you make your decision, and find out from your Speaker Consultant which speakers are willing to promote on their social media channels and whether they’re willing to be mentioned or tagged in your marketing material etc. All too often this is an afterthought which becomes difficult to negotiate once a speaker has been selected and the Scope Of Work contracted.

  • How else can your speaker add value during the event?

Most speakers are multi talented, multi disciplined individuals who have had to ‘categorize’ themselves in order to create a clear selling point, when in fact there is usually a diverse array of talents they can bring to the table. In addition to giving a speech, perhaps your keynote speaker could assist with facilitating a networking session before or after their slot, participate in a panel discussion, or even run a workshop or demonstration? In most cases, they will have the skills to unite all of the messages and themes you want to convey at your event. Obviously no one likes things thrown at them at the last minute, but before finalising the booking, do have a think if there are any add ons that could enhance your event, and see what your Speaker Consultant can negotiate to maximise the bang for your buck!

If you’re ever unsure, we’re here to help. At Performing Artistes, we are in the business of speaking. We make it our business to fully understand the skills and contributories of all of the artists we work with, so that we can match the best person for your event. Not limited to keynotes speakers, this extends to conference and awards hosts, after dinner speakers and entertainment, sports personalities, celebrity appearances and even influencers.

this content is sponsored by Performing Artistes