A keynote speaker that connects with the audience can be the difference between an event that is memorialized in tweets and snaps for years to come and one that is forgotten before the pen in the swag bag runs out of ink. By locating the right keynote speaker, you’re ensuring an entertaining and informative event. But beyond visiting the web site and reading the testimonials, how do you know if a speaker is the right person for the job? And what can you do to secure them at an affordable price? Jeff Davidson of Breathing Space Institute gave Smart Meetings tips on what traits to look for in a speaker and how to negotiate a win-win once the speaker is secured.

Homework Essential

If you have the opportunity, attend the sessions of potential speakers. Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) often list speakers and groups that will be coming into town and hosting conferences and conventions near you. By contacting your local CVB, you may be able to attend a portion of relevant events to evaluate keynote speakers.

Fellow meeting planners may have recommendations for speakers that they have used in the past. Similarly, past speakers from your conferences may be able to refer you to their colleagues. These referrals can be extremely helpful and save you time—always a benefit in the planning industry.

Extra Credit

Some speakers will have a pre-program questionnaire on their website. These questionnaires aim to receive information regarding your business and event, thus giving the speaker insight on whether they will be a good fit for your event. A speaker who presents this questionnaire in the beginning of the process demonstrates that they are serious about their work and take both your time and theirs seriously.

You also want a speaker who will research you and your event, as well as your audience. A speaker who understands what they should include in their presentation, your business’s lingo and the core mission behind your meeting is the best candidate.

Make sure your speaker isn’t solely committed to their time slot. Good speakers will be at the meeting prior to their presentation to familiarize themselves with the venue, do a technology run-through and remain on schedule should your event fall behind.

Negotiating 101

Negotiating price is an art based on finding benefits for all parties. Davidson had these suggestions:

1. Pay upfront. Certain speakers will require a security deposit prior to the event. If you are willing to pay the entire fee upfront rather than after the event, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. This is due to minimizing the risk on the speaker’s behalf; they won’t have to worry about delayed payment or taking the time out to send you the invoice.

2. Schedule in slower months. Some months are slower than others, and the speaker will be eager to book during that time frame for a negotiated price.

3. Minimize their travel. If your speaker is close to your destination rather than a coast away, saving hours of time traveling may help you receive a discounted price.

4. Allow product sales. If your speaker is an author or journalist, allow them to pitch their product. Occasionally, your speaker will offer a percentage of their product sales.

5. Offer your product or service. By providing your services and/or products to the speaker, you give yourself room to negotiate.

For more information on how to locate the right speaker and negotiate like a pro, listen to Jeff Davidson’s full webinar on SmartMeetings.com.