How to Book the Perfect Keynote Speaker

Guide the conversation and encourage networking at your conference with an incredible keynote speaker.

Survey your audience.

We can’t talk enough about the value of asking your prospective attendees for ideas about how the conference should be run. Long before you nail down the schedule and begin selling tickets, you can get insight into the key agenda elements that will be compelling, thought-provoking and timely.

“The last thing you want is to throw a conference and find that there’s no interest in the topic.”

– Romy Yan from PRIME. Romy is an eleven-year veteran of the events industry, overseeing conferences of all sizes and types.

Send a survey to your email list. Include a multiple-choice question with a handful of keynote speaker topics. Give them the option to write in their own ideas as well.

You can take this opportunity to ask additional questions about your conference, like how much you should charge for tickets and where the event should be located. For best results, don’t ask more than 10 questions. Find out what else you should ask in our free conference planning guide!

Research the keynote candidates

Watch videos of previous speaking engagements. It’s a tragedy when someone looks great on paper but delivers a boring or irrelevant talk.

A great keynote speaker doesn’t just speak, though. They engage with the audience online and offline. You’ll be able to get an idea of a speaker’s social influence by following them on Twitter and checking out their website. Look for sincere two-way interactions and recently-updated content.

The best keynote speakers are hustlers. They’re building a personal brand too. They’ll find as much value in your audience as you do.

Showcase the benefits

When you have a shortlist of candidates, it’s time to put on your selling hat. Booking a keynote speaker is all about laying out mutual benefits. Write a personalized proposal for each speaker.

  • Showcase the benefits. Will they be able to build their following, sell books, talk about something groundbreaking, make an announcement, or generate a well-produced speaker video?
  • Define your audience. Why are your attendees relevant?
  • Outline the perks. Are you offering full travel and hotel plus a per diem? Is there a speaker fee?
  • Incentivize engagement before and after the conference

Define the agreement

Ready to make a commitment to your keynote speaker? Lay out your mutual expectations in writing.

  • Schedule a pre-event social media Q&A to help boost registrations.
  • Ask that they follow up with unanswered questions and session feedback from your mobile event app.
  • Get them to participate on a panel in addition to the keynote.
  • Ask them to contribute a blog post or interview for your pre-event marketing.
  • If you use a mobile event app like Guidebook, you can have your keynote speaker complete a contact card to swap information with attendees who want to continue the conversation.

To learn more about booking a keynote, download the 70-page professional conference planning guide, free!

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