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Top Ten on booking a professional speaker for your event...

By Michael Arnot, 21 Apr 2017

Top Ten on booking a professional speaker for your event...

Getting the right speaker for your event is one of the most crucial elements of your event’s success, but how do you get it right? Founder of Unique Speaker Bureau UK, Michael Arnot with over 17 years of business and corporate event management experience, shares his top tips…

  1. Get your aims straight first. Having a detailed list of what you want to achieve out of the event and the specific session you are looking for a speaker to fulfil is essential at the outset. Do you want the audience challenged, motivated, consoled, educated, inspired, energised?... If you aren’t quite sure what you want, make sure you engage with an experienced agency that is prepared to spend time working with you on this important groundwork before you even talk about speakers.

  2. Consider the audience. Regardless of the overall reason for holding your session, the experience of the attendees will be the gage of how successful the event ultimately was. You want people talking about your event for ages, and for the right reason.

  3. Use an agency. Remember, an agency is more impartial than going direct to a speaker. They can help you navigate the maze of thousands of professional speakers out there and find you the person best suited to deliver what you need. This doesn’t just save you time, it eliminates the uncertainty of inviting someone who is essentially a stranger to you onto your stage and guarantees the results you’re after.

  4. Worried that you’ll pay more going through an agent? Many good speakers will put you back to their agency anyway, since they are too busy and focussed on delivering for their clients to be able to give you the attention you need at this important stage of your decision making process. Since agents book their speakers out regularly, you will get as competitive a rate as you will going direct, and the negotiation is so much more straightforward.

  5. Look out for questions. You should get more questions back from the agency, or indeed speaker, than you ask them. This shows they are interested in what you are looking to achieve and are assessing the best fit. An email with 20 speaker suggestions is no help to you, so stay clear if that’s what you get and look for a reasoned selection with a bespoke few lines about why they would be good for your brief.

  6. Look for expertise. Too often we are asked to help recover reputations from previous events where their last speaker was much better salesperson than they were actually a speaker. Anyone that claims they can speak on any topic should be avoided – you want real expertise that people can learn from and take home.

  7. Credentials. Take a look at the speaker’s experience in their chosen area, read their biography so you understand what brought them to talk on the subject they do. Their experience may be just what you’re looking for. Testimonials from relevant sectors or similar organisations to yours are a good indicator of whether they’ll be a good fit for you.

  8. See them speak. If you have time try to see the speaker speak at another event before yours. If this isn’t possible, always ask for some relevant video clips. Most good speakers will have a range of video to show you.

  9. Negotiate your fee and terms. Most speakers have a small bracket within which they price their bookings dependent upon many factors, including the event location, demographic and size of audience, theme, duration, day of week, where they might be the day before or after, how much prep is required, etc… Be clear on your budget for a speaker. Also, every booking should be accompanied by a contract – ask what their terms are and if you have any required variances, ask well in advance.

  10. Pre-event prep. Any good speaker will tailor their talk to your audience or event theme and sometimes will create a completely bespoke session, so they should be asking for a briefing call in advance. See what their appetite for this is, as well as any other requirements you may have such as support with the event promotion – we are frequently providing teaser clips from our speakers for clients to post on their event web page so potential attendees can get an idea of what’s in store.

If you want to guarantee the best fit for your next event, contact us. Here at Unique Speaker Bureau UK we KNOW our speakers, their personality and their content so we can make not only a match on paper with your theme, but a personal recommendation of who we know will work well for you. Call us on +44(0)1207 524 848 or email