How to choose a speaker

If you’ve been tasked with choosing a speaker for a corporate event, annual conference or any special event, this can feel like a huge responsibility in that the success of the event might just rest on your shoulders. Choosing the ‘right’ speaker can mean the difference between being congratulated on organising such an interesting and memorable event or be forever mocked for picking a real dud.

A lot will depend on the theme and proposed content of the event. If the theme needs to be very specific to your industry or the speaker needs to possess academic knowledge or key aspects of a narrow area of expertise then it is best that your speaker comes from inside your business. The other examples of obtaining an ‘inside’ speaker will be if your budget is restricted and you can’t afford to employ a professional speaker. Also you might have a great pool of knowledge and expertise right on your doorstep and have no need to seek additional help.

Image credit

If you have more freedom with your budget then you can consider hiring a guest speaker. If your event is ot too industry specific then you can use a guest speaker to convey themes and messages that are broader and more general in their appeal, such as motivational speaking. There are topics that are important for every business such as:

  • Leadership skills
  • Dealing with change
  • Assertiveness
  • Communication
  • Stress Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Customer Service

A guest speaker also has the added advantage of being perceived as more objective than an internal speaker. If the theme of the event has to approach sensitive subjects then the message is more likely to be accepted if given by an outside source. Employees might suspect that an internal speaker has been coached by management or has their own agenda. Sometimes messages are conveyed more effectively when delivered by a third party. For help to Plan your businesses events, visit

Here are some useful things to consider when researching a guest speaker:

Why are you all coming together and what are the objectives? What knowledge is it that the company wants people to leave with after they have attended the event?

What type of presentation will work for your event, will you be opening or closing with the speaker or providing a change during the period after lunch? How long do you want them to speak for?

What type of speaker will be best for your event? There are celebrity speakers who will provide entertainment and then there are professional speakers who can provide content. Which one will be the best fit for the theme of your event? Think about the personalities in your business and make sure that there will be a good fit between them and the character traits of the speaker.

Identify what things actually cost and compare fees of several presenters. Will there be additional charges for their accommodation or for customising the event?

Speak directly with the presenter, even if it’s just on the telephone as you’ll get more of a feel for whether that person is ‘right’ or not for your event.