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Tips for Hiring a Speaker

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Since I’m often asked to be a speaker in Indianapolis or in Central Indiana, I have some opinions about the best way to hire a speaker. My hope is that more speakers (and especially more organizers) will take notice.

First, if your goal is to hire a speaker, then acknowledge the use of the word “hire.” That means that you express an intent to pay someone for their time.

Of course, you may not have a budget to pay speakers, and that’s okay. You may be paying the speaker through exposure to your audience. That means you’ll be sure to provide them a complete list of all of the registrants with their contact information. And you’ll be happy to make individual introductions before, during and after the event.

Second, ask the speaker for a speaking contract. This is something that many speakers won’t volunteer until you ask for it, because it can be intimidating for event organizers.

However, the contract does help to set expectations. It also can answer any questions you might have (and especially questions you didn’t think to ask) about preparing the venue, introducing the speaker, explaining who they are, and advertising appropriately.

Indianapolis Speakers - Meeting

© Flickr user vokakvklim

Third, have a marketing plan before contacting the speaker. This is especially crucial if you cannot guarantee an audience. But even if everyone attending the event is required to be there—such as at a company rally—you want to the audience excited about attending so that the speaker is walking into a room that is ready to hear from them.

Your plan should at least consist of an online registration system, a couple of announcements to your audience by email, and a press release. If you have the budget for mailers, great! Even better, if you can make time to submit the event to community calendars, that can be extremely helpful.

Fourth, clarify the ground rules. Do you want the speaker to pitch their business? Do you want them to not pitch something else? Do you want the speaker to sell books or materials in the back of the room? Or do you want them not to sell anything at all?

A major element of the ground rules is the format. A speaker who is hired to do a keynote with slides does not want to end up in a seminar room leading a facilitation session. Make sure you communicate verbally as well as in writing the basic structure of the event.

Finally, plan to give feedback. Real feedback. Sure, you should probably pass out feedback forms to attendees either at the session or later via email. But these generally don’t produce much useful information.

Instead, plan to have coffee with the speaker or call them on the phone a few days after the event. That way, you can let them know what they can do better.

That’s it! Keep these tips in mind. And let us know if you want to hire a speaker in Indianapolis.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


Troublemaker and productivity/workflow expert. Slightly more complex than 140 characters will permit.
@lorraineball First probably depends on the business. But second is likely training, especially with regard to sales. - 4 weeks ago
Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

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