How to secure the best speakers for your next corporate event

Speakers are often the backbone of corporate events, making up both the entertainment and much of the content for engagement and post-event marketing. Furthermore, it's your speakers who spark the conversations between delegates that help them form connections, make memories and immerse themselves in the event experience.

Add to all this, the fact that corporate event speaker and talent acquisition takes up a third of event budgets on average, according to Eventbrite, and it's clear your speakers have no small part to play in making your corporate event successful. As such, securing the best speakers possible should be a key concern for corporate event planners.

We spoke with cievents senior producer Julie Pilcher about sourcing speakers for corporate events.

How to find corporate event speakers

Your corporate event programme will generally consist of speakers from within your organisation, with one to three external speakers.

Internal speakers

Who you choose to speak at your event should always be driven by the event strategy. For yearly update meetings, you'd generally have your CEO or managing director giving a lay of the land, as well as other leaders throughout the business giving high-level updates around their departments. 

Meanwhile, a sales and marketing conference would have speakers pulled from your sales teams and product managers. Ultimately, who you ask to speak at your conference comes down to the purpose of the event.

External speakers

Your keynote speakers set the tone of the conference and help to attract delegates. 

Sourcing external speakers is made much easier by working with a full-service events agency like cievents. The cievents team can work to develop your event theme and goals, or work with those you've already determined, and source speakers who match your agenda. Our process begins with internal discussions between our team of over 200 event professionals, sharing experiences with relevant and trusted speakers. The cievents producers will also look to bureaus for professional speakers and attend showcases to see speakers in action before recommending them to clients.

With a portion of your budget dedicated to external speakers, it's important to know you're getting the right ones. So, the cievents team will work with you throughout the selection process and help to deliver a thorough brief, ensuring speakers are tailoring their presentations to your event.

3 key considerations for external corporate event speaker selection

When planning your corporate event programme, there are three primary areas to think about: Budget, Demographic and Event Goals.

1. Budget

It's important to understand your priorities when reconciling speakers with your budget. With a corporate event spread across many days, you might have multiple keynote sessions and therefore look for two to three external speakers. 

However, budget limitations may mean you need to reconsider this strategy. Ask yourself whether it's more important for your event to have three decent keynotes, or one mind-blowing keynote that sets the whole programme up for success. It's often worthwhile to spend more money on a single speaker, than less on numerous.

Finding and selecting your corporate event speakers starts with careful consideration of your budget, audience and goals.

A great corporate event speaker can make or break your conference.

2. Demographic

Think about who your delegates are and the corporate event speakers they want to see. A millennial audience may disengage from a speaker who doesn't interact with them. Meanwhile, according to EventMB, older delegates are more comfortable being spoken to and prefer to engage in back-in-forth in break-away sessions, rather than at the main stage.

The interests of your audience are key too - what are they looking for from your event? Think about this both in terms of the personality and subject matter expertise of your speakers. Are they knowledgeable enough to provide value to your delegates and engaging enough to hold their attention?

3. Event Goals

The goals of your event will determine its look, feel and theme. It's important the same thread is carried through your speaker selection, with speakers fitting the conference outcomes.

Julie spoke to us about a financial conference she's working on in the wake of the Royal Commission and a lot of industry change. She's connected the client with a speaker discussing macro-economic trends, another navigating the topic of change leadership and a third presenting a motivational story that will leave delegates walking away reinvigorated. This selection was made with consideration to the theme of change, with respect to the industry the audience belongs to and the feelings the client wants to inspire.

Finding and selecting your corporate event speakers starts with careful consideration of your budget, audience and goals.

Finding and selecting your corporate event speakers starts with careful consideration of your budget, audience and goals.

Qualities of a great external corporate event speaker

When narrowing your list of speakers, there are certain traits that are indicative of a great corporate event speaker.

  • Personalisation: A hard-working speaker won't just bring the same keynote to every gig. Working with your event producer, the speaker should be willing to research and tailor their presentation to the goals and objectives of the corporate event. This ensures a personalised, unique experience delegates can only get from your event - even if they've seen this speaker before - and more closely aligns their presentation with your theme.
  • Emotional resonance: Any worthwhile professional speaker is going to have great content. What makes a real difference is the emotional impact their presentation will have on delegates. Ask yourself how delegates should feel after the session and if the speaker has what it takes to inspire that emotion.
  • Unique perspectives: Will the speaker deliver something you delegates couldn't find anywhere else? Your delegates consume content at lightspeed online - so you need to offer them something that cannot be matched from their couch.
  • Authenticity: Who is the speaker? If you're sourcing speakers for a conference about diversity, for example, this should be reflected in the demographics of your speakers. To communicate a truly authentic message, your speakers must represent your event themes in more than just content.

A great external speaker advocates for your message and brand, and has what it takes to organically engage and inspire event delegates. They'll not only embrace your corporate event theme - they'll embody it.

For more information about procuring excellent speakers, reach out to the cievents corporate event production team today.

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