September 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September 1998 Current Issue
September 1998 ChecklistPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:



Choosing a Speaker

This checklist was compiled with the help of the National Speakers Bureau, Libertyville, Ill., and speaker/consultant Elizabeth M. Franklin of The Office Organizer, San Francisco, Calif.

  • Know what fee your organization is willing to pay for a presenter.
  • Have a clear idea of the speaker's role in the event and what you want the speaker to accomplish. For example, will the speaker be a keynoter or heading up a session?
  • How should the presentation affect the audience? Should they be entertained, motivated to sell, bond with one another?
  • Does the event have an overall theme that the speaker must tie into?
  • What is your audience makeup: gender, age, economic background?
  • Determine what type of speaker would best suit your needs: humorist, athlete, futurist, technical, economist, other.
  • List special requests for the speaker: book signing, question-and-answer session, autographs.

  • Give the speaker or the speaker's agent your name, number and the group's name, as well as some background on your organization.
  • Let the speaker know where you got his or her name.
  • Give the location, date and time of the event, and specify if those details are subject to change.
  • Be upfront with the speaker if you have a definite topic or theme in mind. Also specify whether you need a customized speech and if you are open to suggestions.
  • Since a speaker may have several speeches of varying lengths on the same topic, be sure to give a specific time frame, and clarify whether that is to include a question-and-answer period.
  • Discuss time of day for the presentation. Some speakers are at their best in the morning; others do better in the afternoon.
  • State your budget and whether you will cover additional expenses (airfare, lodging, meals, transportation, spouse/guest expenses).
  • Give the speaker as much detail as you can on the estimated audience size and makeup. Is it a competitive sales group, jaded to most attempts at comedy? Retirees who will be sitting through a full day of seminars?
  • If this is an annual meeting and the speaker is to be the key presenter, mention names of speakers who have been well-received by the audience at past meetings.
  • Discuss special interests of attendees, as well as organizational taboos, particularly if the audience will contain international participants.
  • Ask the speaker for biographical information, a video of his or her speech, referrals and copies of handouts; review all materials well in advance.
  • For customized speeches, ask to see several key points. However, don't expect an entire transcript of the speech before the event.
  • If you can, meet with your speaker in person. Better yet, ask if you can see him or her in action at another conference.
  • Discuss permission to videotape and record the speaker's presentation.

  • If you need the speaker for the whole day, including social functions, be sure to state so in discussions and in the contract. Remember, the amount of time you need the speaker will ultimately determine the fee you pay.
  • Ask about cancellation policies (most speakers have a cancellation fee). Generally, the sooner you cancel, the less you will pay.
  • Be sure to include an acts of God clause in your speaker contract. This says you're not responsible for the speaker's fee if cancellation is due to a severe weather problem or other factor beyond anyone's control.
  • If you are planning more than one meeting in the coming year that the speaker may be right for, ask for a "package deal."
  • If you are using the speaker in more than one speaking capacity at the same event (e.g., as the keynoter and as a workshop moderator), negotiate a lower fee by combining the two.
  • Offer free advertising in your organization's event directory in exchange for a reduced fee.
  • Notes:

    Back to Current Issue index
    M&C Home Page
    Current Issue | Events Calendar | Newsline | Incentive News | Meetings Market Report
    Editorial Libraries | CVB Links | Reader Survey | Hot Dates | Contact M&C