Hiring Public and Motivational Speakers

If you are in charge of putting together speakers for an event, where do you go to find someone who can bring the event to a rousing close and make you a hero? You can hire an event management firm, and let them do all the work, or save some money and do it yourself armed with a little knowledge of how things work in the public speaking world.

Matching the speaker to your audience and event theme

If you are hosting accountants, you'd obviously want to hire presenters for individual sessions who know something about financial topics. But for the keynote or a general session speaker, getting yet another accounting speaker might be a terrible mistake. Instead, find an ancilliary topic that is not directly related to accounting but would interest or amuse the audience. How about, for instance, the author of a bestseller on money laundering, or someone who helped catch the biggest bank robbers of our time? Or find someone who is a very good speaker on an interpersonal skill (such as motivation or conflict resolution) and who possesses an interesting presentation skill, like being a ventriloquist.

The place you go to find such people is a speaker bureau (that's the easy way). You call them up and tell them what kind of speaker you are looking for and they match someone up for the price you are willing to pay. Bureaus are like agents --- promoting their people ahead of others --- so unless they
are a big bureau the choices might be slim. But they at least know their clients and will likely get you a good match.

Do-it-yourself searches for speakers

With the advent of the Internet, speakers promote themselves online, and even include pictures, video clips, and reviews of their speaking. A search engine will turn up lots of public speakers on virtually any topic. Remember, all of these people are out trying to promote themselves to people like you.

Stay with speakers who have good references, lots of clients you've heard of, and are willing to sign a contract with you for speaking. One of the best and safest sources of speakers can be found through the National Speakers Association and its area chapters. Many of these speakers boast a CSP rating (Certified Speaking Professional), which is your clue that they are good and have achieved a level above most.

Who to stay away from

Avoid trying to book a speaker just because he or she is in the news (because they won the lottery, they were stuck on a mountain top for a week, etc.) These people rarely have what it takes to keep audiences awake. Also avoid people who openly conflict with your audience's beliefs, majority interests, or style. And don't book a Vegas comic when what you need is a humorous speaker --- there is a big difference.

What public speakers cost

If you try to book an ex-president or sports star, you are looking at a $50,000 price tag for a 20-minute speech. Most keynote speakers who are somewhat well-known or are authorities on current topics can request $10,000, although many are in the under $5,000

range. Even if you can only afford $1,000 for a speaker, you can still get a good one on the locally. Remember, too, that you always pay travel and hotel, and usually they will also want to sell their books at a table in the hallway during your meetings.
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