How far in advance should you book a speaker for your next event?
Most think they can get away with booking a speaker within 90 days of their event.
Some think they can get a speaker within 30 days of their event.
In rare situations, you may need a speaker the next morning, and you have no other option than to work with what you can find.
As an event planner or corporate organizer, you do what you can with what you have.
It’s an adage that our 26th president is credited with saying:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
But here’s the answer to the seemingly loaded question above:
You should be booking your speakers at least 6-12 months in advance.
To get the best speaker for your event, you need lead time to find, court, and book said speaker.
Granted, there’s nothing wrong with getting a speaker in less than 6 months. In fact, many planners thrive off the stress and the pressure. And, in some cases, you don’t have more than 6 months to plan the event.
In any case, whether you plan 6-12 months out or ou have 6 days to book a speaker, this post is about how to avoid booking the wrong speaker — no matter your booking deadline.
5 Steps to Avoid Booking the Wrong Speaker
Step #1. Know Your Event. Know Your Audience.
If you know your audience and you know the event, it’s going to be much easier finding a speaker that will resonate. In any case, a speaker who can speak to the audience is better than one who is simply related to the industry. Even more so, a speaker who can capture the audience’s attention is more valuable than anything — as long as they can deliver a message that resonates.
Step #2. Determine Your Budget
What can you spend and what can you afford? These can be two different things. You want to know how much you can spend on a speaker, and you want to know how much you can afford.
A speaker with a published book can run you $10,000-$25,000 per event.
An international best-seller can get as much as $50,000 per event.
Speaking fees are relative to the event, location, audience, and more. So, if these fees seem high (or low), it’s based on more than just time.
Step #3. Ask for “Referrals”
Get on the phone. Send emails. Facebook message your network. If you’re in need of a specific type of speaker, a certain topic message, or a definitive personality, your network may be able to help.
When looking for the right speaker, it’s kind of like asking your colleagues or friends which books they would recommend. Do this and you’ll get a random assortment of books.
However, if you ask, “what books on leadership would you recommend?” You will get a more specific set of titles.
The same concept goes for finding speakers. Don’t ask, “what speaker would you recommend?” Get specific and ask, “What speaker would you recommend on leadership?”
Step #4. Ask for References
No, this isn’t a job interview, but it is a business relationship starter. A speaker you’ve never worked with may or may not be a good fit for you or your audience. You can skirt some of this dilemma by asking for prior event planner’s or corporate organizer’s information to check references.
If you’re looking into booking through a bureau or agency, they ought to have references, a sizzle reel, or some equivalent to prove the speaker can deliver.
If you’re working with a speaker individually, the reference ask is a smart move.
Step #5. Communicate Expectations
Just because you may have booked a speaker, the work is not over. You want to communicate what you expect of the speaker. This means before and after you book them. The conversation on expectations is never over. In most cases, the more information you can give to your booked speaker, the better.
At the end of the day, make sure you’re communicating clearly and concisely with your booked speakers. They are here to help deliver a message, but they need you to tell them what that message is before they can do their part.
Here are some quick takeaways on how to avoid booking the wrong speaker for your next event:
- Know Your Event. Know Your Audience.
- Determine Your Budget
- Ask for “Referrals”
- Ask for References
- Communicate Expectations