Corporate events tend to be big, extravagant affairs. Depending on the topic and the sponsors, these events can pull in audience members from all over the world. They can give businesses exceptional opportunities to expand their network, reach new audience segments, and create new partnerships.

One of the key features of corporate events is the speakers that are chosen. From the keynote address to the closing address to all the smaller talks and workshops that go on during the events, speakers work to define the mood and themes of the overall conference. Great speakers can make a corporate event very memorable, while poor speakers can make a well organized and otherwise interesting event a bore.

Finding the right speakers can pose quite a challenge for event planners. There are many different speakers out there, and determining which ones will bring the right tone to the days of the conference can feel daunting.

These tips will help you choose the right speakers for the next big corporate event.

Decide how many speakers you need

Most corporate events have a keynote address and a closing address, but what do you want to have in between? How many segments will occur throughout the event? Do you want each speaker to also offer a workshop, and how much time will that take up? How many venues do you have available for each time segment?

If you find that you have dramatically more speaker candidates than you have time slots, consider if your event could benefit from a panel or question and answer period for the audience.

Balance professional speakers and celebrity speakers

Both types of speakers bring something different to the table. Celebrity speakers can get people interested in your event, may bring along some of their own interested fanbase, and intrigue people with the chance of working with them.

Professional speakers may be less well known by their name, however, but boasting their techniques can help draw in attendees who are looking for something extra in the world of their professional topic.

Understand the challenges for event planners

As an event planner, there are a number of challenges you face in terms of choosing speakers. Before you start reviewing resumes and looking for YouTube clips, you should make sure you know:

  • What is the theme for the conference?
  • Who is the target audience for the conference?
  • What do organizers hope that attendees will learn? What are the desired takeaways?
  • What is the available budget for speakers? Are there alternative compensations that can be offered?

The top corporate challenges for event planners in 2017 have been managing budgets, innovation and creativity, time and meeting internal demands. Once you know these things, it will be easier to move forward with choosing speakers.

Look for speaking examples

Most speakers have websites these days, but is the website all text? Does the potential speaker offer video of themselves giving a talk? Is it simply them in their room talking to a camera, or is there video from another speaking opportunity?

Giving a new speaker a chance can be a great choice for an event, but be aware that they are a novice when scheduling their event.

Discuss topic options with preferred speakers

Just because a speaker offers talks in your general area, that doesn’t mean that their topic will align properly with your event. They may be able to tweak the talk to better fit your event, or they may be able to develop a new topic.

But for many speakers, they offer approximately the same talk in many different areas, not unlike a comedian who tours with a specific material. It may vary from city to city, but the routine overall is fairly similar.

Talk to other event organization professionals

Speaker websites and other promotional media definitely tell one side of the story, but colleagues and those who have worked with speakers tell another. Was something a bear to work with, making unreasonable demands and causing chaos? Were they unprofessional, late, or otherwise unprepared? Talk to your friends in the event planning industry before making your final selections for speakers to get the nitty-gritty on who you can rely on.

Organizing a professional event is a lot of work. For many event planners, however, the challenges are worthwhile when the attendees leave with a renewed sense of purpose in their careers and event reviews that indicate the series of workshops and talks were educational and informative. Even more important, however, is that professionals leave having had a good time. This doesn’t mean that every night has to be a party, but having fun speakers who bring their material to life and relate it to the professional world is certainly a great start.