3 Things to Consider Before Booking a Keynote Speaker for Your Event

Posted by Mara Ferguson on 7/9/18 10:00 AM

In addition to offering training on-site at our training facility and on the road at client businesses all over the country, did you know that we also have a line-up of leaders from around the Zingerman's Community of Businesses who present at events on a variety of different topics - be it the values we hold dear, the system we use to streamline our operations or our recipes for giving great customer service?

As ZingTrain's Keynote Liaison, I've learned a lot over the years from coordinating and attending Keynote presentations and as an organization, we continue to gather a great deal of insight with every Keynote we deliver. Below we share three things that you might find helpful as you decide which Keynote speaker to choose for your next event.


What is a Keynote presentation?

A keynote takes place at a Conference, Board Retreat or Company Wide-Meeting. Typically, Keynotes have enough seating for the entire group to listen in and they last anywhere from 45-60 minutes. The most common keynotes are Opening Keynotes, Closing Keynotes and Lunch Keynotes.

a-speaker-presenting1An Opening Keynote is often introduced by the CEO, President or MC of the event. An Opening Keynote sets the stage for what lies ahead. It inspires people and typically sets up the “theme” of the event in a tangible and exciting way for the audience. The Closing Keynote, which closes out the conference, is one that planners and organizers lean on to give a jolt of energy to the group as everyone gets ready to part ways. Like the Opening Keynote, it can tie in with the event theme and hit home any points that they want to be sure the group keeps in mind until the next time they comes together.

Can anyone give a Keynote?

Well, yes, of course but should they is another question all together. Keynote speaking isn't for everyone and is no small task: prepare and deliver compelling and engaging content, in a cohesive and concise manner, on a stage in front of hundreds (or thousands!) of people whose faces you can’t see. Sounds easy, right? The reality is that Keynote speakers have a skill that they’ve honed over years of practice and presenting at many kinds of events to all different types of audiences.


So, now the big question ... How do you find the right Keynote speaker for YOUR event?

The answer depends on what’s important to you - is your priority your budget or the speaker's level of experience?

If your priority is budget, and you’re working with a small budget AND you are comfortable taking a bit of a gamble, seek out your local National Speaker Association and ask if anyone is willing to speak at a low rate in exchange for a chance to practice their keynote.

If your budget is somewhere in the middle and you don’t mind doing some work, ask your network if they’ve seen any good speakers, compile a list, and reach out to those speakers personally (or via their company’s info@ email address). A lot of bigger companies are used to these requests and likely have some infrastructure to handle them. It never hurts to ask - that's how we got started!

However, if you're more concerned with a speaker's level of experience and you want a polished and experienced speaker, you can seek out a Speaker’s Bureau. A Speaker’s Bureau will manage the negotiations, particulars and contracts but they do charge a fee for that.


The Bottom Line

Once you've decided on your event's theme or overarching message, selecting the right speaker is key. While someone can be very compelling in small groups, it's important to consider their level of experience and presentation style in front of larger groups. Finding the right Keynote speaker depends on what is most important to you - is it budget? Or are you looking for an experienced speaker?

We have a great line-up of speakers from all across the ZIngerman's Community of Businesses and you can check  them out here. If you feel moved by what you see, we would love to talk to you about whether our speakers and content would be a good fit for your next event!


Mara Ferguson

Written by Mara Ferguson

Mara is a one-woman speaker's bureau for the organization. A Zingerman's ambassador. Conference Rat. Manager of ZingTrain Speaker Series. Good source of organizational knowledge. Specifically, she works with Presenters and Speakers entering and leaving the building. From the moment someone engages us about a keynote, she works with them to find the best speaker for their event and manages the details throughout the entire process. Mara's favorite part of her job? Working with someone over email and phone - building a great working relationship - and then meeting them at the event! She finds it exciting and fulfilling to get to shake their hand and actually meet someone that she's worked so closely with over the six months before the event takes place. When she's not at work, Mara enjoys walks and hikes with her husband and their dog-hter, putzing around the kitchen, listening to good music with the sun on her face, travel and whatever random art or home project moves her.

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