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10 Steps to Hiring the Right Speaker
Selecting a speaker can be one of the most daunting tasks of a meeting planner, yet the speaker is also one of the most important elements of a great meeting. There are literally thousands to choose from in every topic area and fee range. Here are ten steps you should consider in selecting a speaker to help make your meeting a success:

1. Determine the needs of your audience: Do they need specific information or do you want to motivate them? Would they prefer an entertainer who is educational or an educator who is entertaining? Do you need an after-dinner speaker? Answering these questions is essential to start your search for the right speaker.

2. Know the date, budget and time: Start your speaker search as soon as you know the meeting date. Determine how much you can afford to pay the speaker, which will help narrow your search. Know how much time the speaker will have. Many speakers can help you determine how much time is needed and can make suggestions on the order in which presentations should be made. Example: don't follow a humorist with a technical presentation.

3. Identify the right type of speaker: A high fee doesn't guarantee a high-quality presentation. Consider whether you need a celebrity, a sports personality, a best-selling author, or a professional speaker who is a subject matter expert. Often, professional speakers cost less and are just as well received as famous personalities.

4. Use the resources available to you: Ask colleagues for recommendations. Use speakers bureaus to locate speakers and determine fees. You can search our website’s speaker database by keyword or area of expertise.

5. Interview speakers you're considering: Ask if they've addressed similar audiences. Request a videotape and marketing package. Find out if they'll customize their presentation.

6. Select the right speaker:
Professional speakers will work with you to ensure your meeting is successful. Their experience translates to your peace of mind. If you're doing several meetings, consider asking if they'll negotiate their fee for multiple bookings.

7. Get it in writing: Present a contract or letter of agreement that spells out the expectations of both you and the speaker. Include travel arrangements, accommodations, fees, payment terms, whether the speaker can sell product and how, AV requirements, and whether you want the speaker to attend social events. Call the National Speakers Association at 480-968-2552 to request samples of speaker contracts.

8. Work with the speaker:
Share information, such as newsletters, articles, buzz words, key people, or anything that will help the speaker become familiar with your group. Let the speaker know who else is on the program and what they'll talk about. Give the speaker specifics about the size and demographics of the audience.

9. Set the stage: Make the room work for your audience and the speaker. Arrange the chairs for optimum impact. Honor your audience and your speakers by staying on schedule so your program will have the full impact you planned. Ask your speaker for an introduction. Most can provide a short, interesting intro that will create positive expectations.

10. Inspect what you expect:
Ask your audience to evaluate the speakers. This will help you determine what will work for future programs. Let the speaker know the evaluation results, since most of them use evaluations to help them get even better.

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