skip navigation

5 tips to choose a speaker




How to Choose the Right Speaker for Your Event

Choosing a speaker for a conference or dinner is no mean task. They are a sizeable investment and can make or break the event, and they are the part of the occasion everyone remembers, so it is crucial they not only strike the right note but also reflect the culture of your company.

Establish ROI

With preparation and thought, the speaker can be the star of the show. First and foremost, work out what you want to achieve and your ROI will follow.

“Do you want to motivate your staff? Do you need more collaboration at your firm? Do you start the year with a kick-off? Then you need to choose someone who will get that message across, whether that is an individual to entertain or create a shock factor so that you can hear a pin drop in the room,” says director, Ireland, for CWT meetings & events Aine Corrigan.

Choose an appropriate speaker

Only if you are using the speaker as a draw to attract your audience or you are charging people to attend, do you need a Rory Bremner or Robert Peston, with attendant high fees.

Equally, a motivational speaker is no longer by default a sportsman or woman. “It could be someone interesting from the health sector, an entrepreneur or someone involved in tech. The critical thing is they have to be very good at telling a story,” says CEO of the London Speaker Bureau Tom Kenyon-Slaney.

“There is no correlation whatsoever between the fees a speaker or performer commands and how good they are going to be when they walk on to the stage,” says director of speaker bureau JLA Jeremy Lee. That said, anyone who charges much less than £2,000 is probably not going to be a proven, accomplished speaker, he warns.

Brief your speakers

Briefing the speaker is essential to the outcome.

Be clear about the objectives of the event, the role the speaker is playing and give a summary of the content outside their session. “Describe your audience in some detail, which means neither being cynical about them nor covering up the truth, whether they are a bright audience, who love hearing from people with specialist knowledge, or they have heard a lot of experts and are weary of hearing about more change – that’s very useful to know at the briefing stage,” says Jeremy Lee. “It is also tremendously constructive to be able to tell the speaker, who has gone down well and who has gone down less well; there is usually quite a lot you can read into that.” And your audience is an essential part of the event, so pay attention to politics, religion, diversity, age range and numbers.

Take into account venue and available equipment

The venue and available equipment should also be taken into account. A long thin room may mean that people at the back are too far from the action and lose interest: it is essential that the audience can see and hear the speaker. A reliable sound system is crucial, so test the venue’s kit!

Have an amazing event!

In short, if your audience goes away with the speaker’s wise words ringing in their ears and they are still talking about it months, even years, later, you have succeeded. Aine Corrigan is living proof: “At the CWT UK & Ireland conference a number of years ago, motivational speaker Martine Wright came on mid-morning. She was in the 7/7 bombings on the tube and lost her legs. She was so eloquent, you could have heard a pin drop.

“Against all the odds, she rose above adversity. She skydived, learned to fly, married her partner and had a baby. Then she became captain of the British Paralympic sitting volleyball team, ambassador, patron, inspirational motivational speaker and much more. It was really, really successful; I still think about her and what she said – and that was three years ago.”

Content for this article was originally published in the Winter 2018 CWT Engage Magazine and has been shortened for online distribution.




You can unsubscribe at any point in the future from our mailing list using the ‘unsubscribe’ link on any of our emails.