Business Speakers

Written by Christopher Ransom
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Business speakers have been used for decades to enhance events and are in demand for a variety of occasions, such as lunch forums, fund-raising events, group meetings, after dinner entertainment, trade shows and more. Having a business speaker at an event is a great way to attract the specific type of audience you are looking for, and adds a sense of prestige and professionalism.

Fortunately, finding speakers is not that difficult, and there are professional speakers who specialize in just about every topic you can think of. In addition to speakers that focus on specific topics, there are also many that fall under a broader categories. The most popular categories of broad-range speakers include motivational speakers (think: how to become more successful), keynote speakers (think: how one woman started her company), and speakers that entertain (think: after dinner jokes).

While many speakers who fall into easily categorized channels will have an impressive resume, your topic of choice may not be as easy to define. For instance, what if you are having a fund-raising dinner for a local charity? Do you want to have a keynote speaker there who specializes in that charity, or one who is specific to local fund-raising? You may decide that the speaker's topic doesn't have to be related to your charity per se, but that you want to provide the audience with a reason to attend. The truth is, when choosing a speaker, you should think about your audience first. Your goal is to get them to attend, then captivate them, and then bring them to some form of action. It is entirely possible to think outside of the box with speakers. In other words, don't be afraid to get creative!

Getting the Most Out of a Business Speaker

Business speakers, unfortunately, do not have to undergo a specific type of training or get a degree. . .which means that you can be in the dark when choosing a speaker. You wouldn't buy a new appliance without learning about the features or comparing its price between stores. The same goes for hiring a business speaker. You want to know who you're hiring, what kind of experience they have, and if possible, get a preview by listening to a tape or talking to people who have attended events with that speaker.

Business speakers are typically very knowledgeable about their areas of coverage, but never forget that they might not know everything about your specific business or event. To get the most out of business speakers, you should plan on providing your speaker with detailed information about your business or event, and if possible, schedule a time when he or she can ask questions.

You should also request that your chosen business speakers provide you with a written introduction, and practice the presentation itself. It helps to develop a promotional plan well in advance of the speaking date, and make sure the intended audience is aware of the event. Consider a mix of promotional materials, such as posters, fliers, local advertising and direct mail. At the actual speaking event, you should also plan on having time for the audience to ask questions. A good way to maximize the contact list of the audience is to ask them to sign up for follow-up notes, and then you have an opportunity (and, more importantly, a reason) to reach out to them later.

The Logistics of Hiring Business Speakers

Professional business speakers usually charge a flat fee for a certain length of time. Some professional business speakers are represented by agents, and some hire out independently. Most agencies have a website that allows you to book directly online, but before booking a speaker, make sure to get some background information on them. In addition to finding out if they are available, talk to the agent or speaker about his or her qualifications.

Good questions to ask are: What is the business speaker's specific style? What is the speaker's level of experience? Does the speaker have references you can contact? Is a deposit required? Does the speaker offer to take time getting to know you or your business beforehand? After you have satisfied yourself with your questions, make sure to get a written contact and have a back-up plan for last-minute cancellations.

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