7 things to consider when selecting the right keynote speaker

Sept. 6, 2019

Once you know the general theme and focus of your conference or event, it’s time to find the right keynote speaker – who will both educate and entertain your attendees.

However, selecting the right speaker isn’t always easy. In most cases, it’s quite difficult to find someone who is well known, reputable, relevant to your audience and within your budget.

In this article, we provide a list of the top seven things you need to consider when choosing a keynote speaker. We’ve also included some essential questions to ask during your booking process.

1. Past Talks & Presentation

“The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.” – Dr. Phil

You should never book a keynote speaker blindly. In other words, be sure to do your homework on who you are hiring and which topics they are comfortable speaking on.


  • Does the person have a ready-to-go presentation on your topic already?
  • Have you or someone you know seen them speak before?
  • Will they give you access to view their presentation beforehand?
  • Are there TEDTalks or videos you can watch of their past presentations?

2. Social Proof

“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.” – Erin Bury

Next, check out potential speakers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. You’ll be able to quickly gain insight into their personality, professionalism, and ability to engage their audience.


  • Do they have social media pages?
  • Do their social media profiles look legitimate and appropriate?
  • Are they actively engaged on social media?
  • Do their public values match your public values?

An iphone screen

3. Great Reputation

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard

People love to voice their opinions online – so use this to your advantage. Do some social searching and ask your fellow peers if they have heard of your potential speakers before. If they have a great reputation (or a really bad one), you’ll likely hear or read about it.


  • How are past audiences describing their presentation?
  • What reviews do they have on their website or social profiles?
  • Are there any articles written about them? Are they positive?
  • Will they be kind, considerate, and a pleasure to work with?

4. Relevant Topic & Industry

“A leader’s goal is to remain relevant even when time changes.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Great speakers can complement the theme or message of an event without dominating it or taking the audience down a rabbit hole. It is vital to book keynote speakers who understand the value and goal of what you’re trying to accomplish and how they fit in.


  • Does their brand match the industry or topic you’re looking to promote?
  • Are they an expert on the subject matter?
  • Do they have considerable experience in the industry?
  • Can they answer related questions articulately?
  • Do they ask questions that show they care and are genuinely interested in the event?

A presenter with a small group

5. Key Opinion Leader

“All great achievements require time” – Maya Angelou

Your keynote guest should be a leader who not only knows their stuff, but also has experience working a crowd and engaging others in insightful, productive, and relevant discussions.  Can they talk the talk and walk the walk?


  • Do people in the industry know who they are?
  • Are they well liked and respected by their peers?
  • Have they been quoted in industry-related publications?
  • Have they written and published materials?

6. Within Budget
“We must consult our means rather than our wishes.”  – George Washington

While it would be great to book Oprah for your next event, odds are she’s a little out of your budget. However, don’t stress. Don’t feel that you need to break the bank to attract guests. As long as the speaker meets the above standards, there’s no need to overspend.


    • Do their fees fit in your budget?
    • Do they have a specific rider with demands outside your control or budget?

A pile of change

7. Willingness to Cross-Promote
“Sharing is the essence of social media.” – Zoe Sugg

The best case scenario is that you’ll find a speaker who is excited to engaged with spreading the word about your workshop or conference. If they’re willing to share advertising materials and posts on your behalf, that’s fantastic!


  • Are they open to promoting the event on their own social media?
  • Would they consider telling their peers and friends about the event?
  • Do they require any specific marketing materials from you?
  • Will they allow for photography and video recording of their talk?

Book Your Next Event at Georgian College

Ready to book a fantastic venue to host your keynote speakers? Give us a call to book a tour of our incredible conference and event venue options in Barrie – 705.722.5120.

Did you know that we also have on-site accommodations for your guests and speakers in the summer months? Create a stress-free experience for your attendees by inviting them to stay in our Barrie residences.

“The facility was great, and the help in co-ordinating all the fine details made it go very smoothly. We had very many positive comments and happy conference goers.” – Greg Clarke, Ontario Association for Mathematics Education

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