In speaking for multiple Fortune 500 companies, associations, and other organizations over the past 10 years, my aim is always to deliver massive value. What I’ve found is that most clients are looking for four key criteria when selecting a speaker:
1. They want to make sure the talk has actionable takeaways.
2. They want the talk to be customized to their audience.
3. They want the talk to align with the rest of their agenda.
4. They want the talk to extend beyond the day of the event.
Once you know what you want from your speaker, here’s a very simple, straightforward way to make sure you get the speaker you’re looking for: turn your expectations into questions!
For example, if the four statements above are your criteria for success, then when you’re interviewing speaker candidates, my recommended questions are:
1. What are some of the actionable outcomes from your keynote? If the speaker you are interviewing stammers here, beware.
2. How do you customize the talk to your audience? Everyone DOES customize, so don’t ask if they do. Ask HOW they customize their talk.
3. How will this session affect the rest of my event? An amazing 60-minute keynote is great. But what would be even better is impact after the speaker leaves the stage.
4. What if I want to build on the keynote — what is available after the event? This is really the secret sauce to a great event.
Do you notice how these are not “yes” or “no” questions? You want to ask questions in such a way that the speaker is led to give you examples.
For example, when a client asks me about actionable takeaways, I can share how Redfin’s sales management told me his team was “able to save an angry client, who was planning on leaving, into a happy client by using the tools of empathy and listening I talked about in my keynote.”
When a client asks about how I customize a talk I can share how after giving a talk to Anthem insurance’s audience, using their specific acronyms and examples, someone from the audience asked me “how long I had worked in healthcare.” The event planner received several comments about how much they appreciated how completely I understood their challenges in my keynote.
When a client asks about how my keynote can align with the rest of their agenda, I can share how the Vice President from Intalere said, “Even though you are not here, your presence after your keynote is still felt. You have been mentioned and quoted in presentations from our CEO down to our pitch sessions.”
When a client asks about how they can extend the impact beyond the event, I can share how I always include both a one hour Zoom call 30 days after the event and then another one 90 days after the event. A managing partner from DHR International said: “What a great recap call of all the valuable content you gave us from your keynote last month! We all loved being reminded of how inspired you made us feel as well as being able to ask you real life questions of how we can overcome a specific objection. “
When a speaker is sharing their stories of successfully meeting the needs for other clients, you should imagine yourself in that client’s situation and see if that fits with what you’re looking for from a keynote speaker. If you feel inspired and motivated by the stories a prospective speaker is telling you, then you can be sure that your audience will too!
When you ask these questions of your speaker candidates, you’ll find the pre-booking calls to be much more enjoyable, and you’ll virtually guarantee that you are able to select a speaker who delivers more value than you could have imagined.
Imagine how happy you will feel when you hire the right speaker and you hear comments like, “This was the best speaker we have had in 13 years” or “I not only feel inspired to start using what I just heard at work, but feel like it can help me in my personal life too!”