What qualities should a good speaker have?

A conference makes it or breaks it with inspiring speakers. Who are they exactly in your specific branch and target audience, is difficult to summarise in a general article. However, there are some things that every organiser needs to consider when hiring a speaker, whether you are organising a national event in event venues in London or a regional branch meeting at a party venue in north London.

A relevant story

Most conferences have a global theme. You want to tell a story. There is a reason why people come from far and wide (e.g. a nice location, nice finger food and networking opportunities works for many people) to attend. What is the story?

Within your theme, which speaker has the most inspiring, recent, remarkable, unique and/or most usable story?

Who doesn’t just echo other sources, but is a trendsetter in their own right? That is the person you should invite as a keynote speaker.

For time or budgetary reasons, it is possible that the absolute favourite is not at your conference. Then look for someone who can tell a good story.

Sparkling presentation

The presentation is almost as important as the content. Nobody will remember an unremarkable person.

An inspiring speaker is therefore:

  • Able to get people excited
  • A good storyteller
  • Knows how to fit in timing and pacing
  • Can adapt to the mood of the room

Do you want to hire a speaker who really knows their stuff, but doesn’t have the best presentation? Then consider linking this speaker to an interviewer to steer the discussion.

Big name attracts an audience

What exactly is considered a ‘big name’, depends entirely on the context of your conference. Is it open to the general public? Then a celebrity could attract additional visitors in many cases.

However, at an event for a very specific target audience you could need a specialist, unknown to a bigger audience, but with many followers on social media.

Then exclusiveness is very much a requirement. If you are organising an event in or around London and the speaker is at party venues in another country a week later, it will not work.

Use tech to your advantage

The era of boring PowerPoint presentations is very much over. There are so many things possible today media-wise.

For example, speakers can talk directly to the audience using a conference app. What do you think about this issue? Vote!

Moreover, a good speaker has a professionally designed and visually inviting presentation. Although many speakers work on the presentations until the very last moment, it is a good idea when hiring a speaker to already ask for a few slides.

Free is dangerous

This of course depends entirely on the nature of your conference (for an NGO, speakers logically tend to speak for free as opposed to a multinational), but the rule is: you don’t get something for nothing.

A speaker who comes to your conference without monetary compensation will want something else in return. Sometimes, it matches your own objectives, but sometimes it doesn’t. Find out first the motivation of a speaker before you invite them without a budget.

For example:
Speaker’s motivation - Experience speaking for audiences
Organisation’s consideration - Is the current level enough to be interesting?

Speaker’s motivation - Promote their products and/or services
Organisation’s consideration – Will it be an obvious sales pitch?

Speaker’s motivation – Establish their name, get their name out there
Organisation’s consideration - Does it add anything to the event?

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