by Paul O. Radde | October 12, 2015

Dr. Paul O. Radde Ph.D.When hiring speakers, think about going outside the box from the typical expert, celebrity or motivational presenters, and instead enlisting a truly innovative speaker. Among these unique presenters to consider:

• Wholesaler. A wholesaler is someone whose background, perspective or point of view is distinctive, unique and original. The wholesaler’s topic may be unusual, even controversial. You will not find him or her on a top list of leadership speakers. This may be a new or breakthrough approach for your event, requiring courage or a stretch on your part in hiring.

Anyone can search Google for motivational quotes and string them together into a motivational speech. With little more than sequencing and delivery, “retailers” are able to prepare, deliver and make a respectable living doing it. The wholesaler brings something new and unique.

• Quick study. You might want a speaker to make an extended organizational intervention beyond the keynote. In this case, you might want to choose a customized presentation, as well as follow-up training and consultation to your organization, board or industry. Even with minimal basic orientation regarding your group’s challenges or organizational/industry issues, you can expect the quick-study speaker to make observations that provide fresh insight. She will diagnose or address issues with originality and accuracy. This tells you that this is a professional who learns from experience and applies what is learned. You are immediately given a timely and relevant new perspective, something you did not have before. With additional orientation, this speaker is more likely to provide substance in depth to your group.

• Creative engager. Such speakers have skills to promote engagement. They can attend the meeting prior to the presentation in order to fit more seamlessly into the flow and be available to participants during the reception, meals, at a book signing or discussion to follow the presentation.   

• Multitasker. Consider a presenter who can fulfill more than one role. Many speakers can function as group facilitators, emcees, professional synthesizers, even assisting with improved and engaging room setups.

Following are other considerations for choosing the right innovative speaker for your group:

• Does the speaker provide creative takeaways? Along with a unique perspective, creative speakers are known to offer innovative and unique slants, skills, techniques and tips, including new applications of your products or services. Imagine your group walking out of a meeting with a new use for your product. This can be an industry-changing event in which early retooling or repurposing gives your people a leg up on the competition.

Does he or she understand your group in-depth? Being understood is not to be underestimated. How many people really “get” you? Could write your biography? If a speaker is so empathic and savvy as to truly understand your group, give you new insights into their stressors or motivators, she may also be able to speak to the “insides” and psyche of your group members. For example, who would guess that a disproportionate number of speakers are introverts, or that pharmacists are highly sensitive?

Is their message based on experience? There is no substitution for experience. If you were not witness to the original March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream" speech, as I was, you are not going to be able to relate that experience to an audience. At best yours would be a retelling, hearsay.  The experience of past events has direct benefits, especially if your speaker has the ability to craft and tell the story well.

Meanwhile, age is not required to have the experience of getting a cancer diagnosis that could save your life but is complicated by being told you also have a life-threatening brain aneurysm. Such gripping narratives, presented by those who have experienced the threat, really connect with the audience.

Does the speaker truly customize the presentation? True customization requires a thorough orientation to the group, the theme and the reason for the meeting. A representative cross-sampling of the group attending, six to eight attendees or more, should be interviewed prior to the event with their examples and experience worked into the presentation. Ask the speaker how he plans to customize his presentation.

Does the professional speaker you are considering have sufficient downtime to do adequate custom tailoring for your group? Choose someone who has sufficient time to interview, design and prepare the presentation. The speaker who is flying in from one engagement and immediately out to another may be able to do little more than get the name of your group correct, let alone “fill in the blanks” with more details. Hire someone with time to do the job professionally.

• Does the speaker have an authentic presence or persona? Showing up, being real and truly present, is at a premium in the world at large, as well as in speaking. Audiences deserve to connect with a whole human being, someone fully present onstage. We all have a detector for genuineness. The speaker who is a “persona” might provide a polished performance but does not “ring true” as a person. The authentic person will stand the test on- and offstage. Use your intuition during video preview and phone contact to screen for this developed capacity. Provide a presenter who is centered and grounded.

Paul O. Radde, Ph.D., speaker, consultant and psychologist is founder of the Thrival Institute (, based in Austin, Texas.