Five steps to booking the best speakers for your event

Inspire Speakers director Keith Harwood presents a session on how to book the right conference speakers at Events Uncovered presented by Spice at MCA Australia on Tuesday, 23 July, 2024. Here, he delivers five steps to getting the best talent who will wow the audience at your event.

Have you ever been to an event or conference where the speaker was mind-numbingly boring? Worse, were you responsible for booking them? It can be a horrifying experience because, unfortunately, in the events industry, it can go spectacularly wrong.

Especially because it happens live, where there is no hiding.

To avoid this happening at your event, follow these five steps to get the best speaker talent.

Understand why you’re booking a speaker

Ask this question: What do you want your audience to think, feel and do after the speakers’ session?

At Inspire Speakers, we book external speakers for our conferences and events because we want the speaker to create the emotions and insights that cannot be created elsewhere within your organisation.

An excellent speaker, who is external to the organisation, uses their unique platform, credibility and skill as a powerful communicator to create and transfer those desired emotions and key messages to the audience.

Know your audience

Your audience is not your manager, and it’s not your organising committee.

To properly identify your audience and what it is they want, ask yourself three questions:

  • What does the average person in my audience look like (age, gender, job, nationality, personal interests and ambitions)?
  • Who have they seen before? Who did they like? Who did they not like?
  • What pain has the average person experienced in the business in the past 12 months? Or what keeps them awake at night?

Be in control of the process

This is probably the most important step because almost everyone can have an opinion on who is and isn’t a great speaker.

Often when it comes to booking a speaker for your event, the most challenging part can be influencing others, namely your management, client, organising committee and other decision makers.

Making a decision can be extremely time consuming, and when the decision is finally made, that speaker may no longer be available.

Ultimately, it’s about being focused and organised. If you’re not, you’ll get poor suggestions from all corners of the world that will waste your time and put you at risk of getting the decision wrong.

Ask the experts

There are many ways to source a speaker, but what is the best way?

Google can give you thousands of search results for leadership speakers, and any speaker can claim to be Australia’s best, most in-demand speaker in cyberspace.

Often if I’m in an Uber and the driver asks me what I do for a living, instead of saying I run a speakers’ bureau, I’ll ask if they know the Compare the Market website. I then explain Inspire Speakers is similar, except instead of insurance, we compare talent, MCs and keynote speakers.

We show our clients only the nine-out-of-10 or 10-out-of-10 speaker options available for their budget.

Be a “brief beast”

Once you’ve chosen your speaker, you want to complete the process by ensuring you get what you really want, which is clarity of message and audience engagement.

Here are a few steps to make sure you get the best performance from your speaker:

  • Organise a briefing call two weeks before the conference.
  • Before the briefing call, send your speaker a briefing pack or website link outlining the objective of the conference, the audience, agenda and all logistical information.
  • On the briefing call, establish rapport with the speaker – for example, “Where are you calling from?” or “How’s your week been?” Too often we jump straight into the business end of the call. Some rapport-building at the start can go a long way.
  • Tell the speaker why you booked them to appear at your conference.
  • Tell the speaker what you would like the audience to know, think and feel.
  • Tell the speaker the top three takeaways you want the audience to leave with (if appropriate).
  • Send the speaker any additional information you have on the market or industry you work in to give a clear overview of the daily challenges and goals of your audience.

Subtly repeating the above points will help increase your speaker’s performance. You can do this in your contract, briefing pack and run sheet.

Events Uncovered presented by Spice returns for its ninth year and is being held at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, in Sydney, and will feature a free Showcase and ticketed Knowledge Sessions featuring the events industry’s innovators and thought leaders.

The Spice Knowledge Sessions will be opened with a keynote session – “Let us edu-tain you”, inspired by Inspire Speakers – from Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory (pictured, above), co-founders of The Behaviour Report.

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit


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