Home          Choose a Speaker          About Us          FAQ          Contact Us


Finding the Right Speaker

Al Walker, CSP, CPAE

Matching the right speaker to the audience is one of the most challenging tasks a meeting planner has to face. We've all been in a meeting where the speaker or topic wasn't what we anticipated, or the speaker used outdated material. The speaker's presentation was good, but the topic was totally unrelated to the audience; or, a humorist followed a session where declining company sales and possible layoffs were announced. Deciding when to use a humorist versus a motivational speaker versus a seminar leader versus a keynoter - or any speaker selection decision - can be made much easier if the planner considers the following before deciding on a specific speaker:

  • What do you want to accomplish? At the end of the meeting, how do you want your people to feel and what do you want them to be able to do that they can't do now, or aren't doing as effectively as they should?
  • What are the group's demographics? Is everyone at the same level in the organization? What are their job descriptions and ages and what is the male/female ratio? The personality profile of a group of engineers is different than sales people or artists.
  • What's the purpose of the meeting? If you're rewarding people for a job well done, the program will have a lighter entertainment focus. If it's a monthly meeting that always includes a speaker you might need a business speaker.
  • What is the placement of the speaker on the program? You don't want to schedule an in-depth educational session during an awards banquet or after a cocktail reception, and a keynoter may not be appropriate for a three-hour seminar.
Al Walker
Al Walker
You have to know your audience and objective before anything else is decided. In many cases, the category of your speaker selection will become obvious. You'll know whether a humorist for an opening session is more appropriate than a workshop leader, for example. However, don't assume that a humorist can't weave a motivational message into the presentation or that a workshop leader will not use humor to lead sessions on efficiency and productivity.
When I'm asked to speak, these are the seven questions I ask which help me tailor my presentation. They may also help you match the right speaker to your meeting and audience.

1. Where is the meeting and why did you choose that destination?
Are you meeting in Orlando to have time to spend with Mickey or are you meeting in a downtown business center?

2. How frequently does the group meet?

3. Who spoke to the group previously?
What did the group like or dislike about that speaker?

4. What's the group's size and make-up?

5. What's the tone of the meeting?
Is it relaxed or formal?

6. What's the meeting's total agenda?
Not just the session they're asking me to do? Where do I appear on the program? How long is my time slot and who else is on the program?

7. What do you want me to accomplish?
How much information do you want the attendees to leave with? What challenges or problems need to be addressed? After you have selected the speaker who fits the assignment, preview the speaker in person, if possible. Call the speaker for references and check them. Call your associates for recommendations and references. Also, don't hesitate to ask professional speakers you've used in the past for recommendations - a true professional will recognize when he is not appropriate for your immediate needs and gladly refer you to who is.

The right speaker can make or break your meeting. No professional speaker wants to put himself into a guaranteed failure situation. I want your meeting to be a howling success because I know that if it is, you'll not only continue to use professional speakers but there's also a chance you may have me back.

Al Walker specializes in results-oriented training programs. Al is a masterful teacher and is nationally recognized for his unique, fun-loving, humorous approach to speaking.
Like to know more about Al?

top of page

Home          Speakers          About Us          FAQ          Contact Us

Hosted by:
Program Resources
P.O. Box 22307
Louisville, KY 40252    
Phone:  502-228-1115
Fax:       502-228-1103
E-Mail: info@programresources.com

I-Net Marketing
Web Site
1999 - 2011