How To Choose A Guest Speaker

Key Takeaways

  • Understand Your Audience: Tailor your speaker choice to audience interests and needs.
  • Define Your Event’s Purpose: Align the speaker with the event’s goals.
  • Budget Considerations: Balance speaker fees with your budget constraints.
  • Research and Recommendations: Utilize personal networks and online resources for speaker suggestions.
  • Expertise and Experience: Prioritize speakers with relevant knowledge and a strong track record.
  • Speaker Engagement: Ensure the speaker can engage and inspire your audience.
  • Logistical Planning: Consider location, availability, and technical needs.

As someone who has written extensively on event planning and guest speaker selection, I’ve learned that choosing the right guest speaker is both an art and a science. 



It’s about understanding your audience, aligning with your event’s goals, and finding someone who can not only educate but also inspire. Here’s a step-by-step guide based on my experience:

1. Understand Your Audience

The first step in choosing a guest speaker is to know your audience. Who are they? What are their interests, professional backgrounds, or educational needs? For instance, if your audience consists of young entrepreneurs, a successful startup founder could be an ideal choice.

Key Questions to Consider:

  • Who is my audience (age, profession, interests)?
  • What are their expectations from the event?

2. Define Your Event’s Purpose

Every event has a purpose. It could be educational, motivational, or networking-focused. Your speaker should complement this purpose. For a fundraising event, for example, a speaker with a compelling personal story that resonates with your cause can be highly effective.


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Event Goal Examples:

  • Educational: Industry expert, academic.
  • Motivational: Inspirational leader, achiever.
  • Networking: Industry influencer, well-connected professional.

3. Budget Considerations

Budget plays a crucial role in speaker selection. High-profile speakers often come with higher fees. Balance the desire for a notable speaker with your budget constraints. Remember, a less well-known speaker can still have a significant impact.

Budgeting Tips:

  • Determine your speaker budget early.
  • Consider emerging speakers for lower fees.
  • Negotiate terms like travel expenses.

4. Research and Recommendations

Leverage your network for speaker recommendations. LinkedIn, professional forums, and industry groups are excellent resources. Attend other events to scout potential speakers and observe their style and audience engagement.

Research Strategies:

  • Ask for personal recommendations.
  • Search online for speakers in your industry.
  • Attend events to see potential speakers live.

5. Expertise and Experience

Evaluate the speaker’s expertise and experience. Have they spoken at similar events? Do they have the knowledge to speak authoritatively on your chosen topic? Look for speakers who have a mix of real-world experience and the ability to communicate complex ideas simply.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Relevant industry experience.
  • Previous speaking engagements.
  • Ability to convey complex ideas clearly.

6. Speaker Engagement

An engaging speaker can transform an event. Watch videos of their past talks to gauge their style. Do they tell stories, use humor, or interact with the audience? A dynamic speaker can keep your audience attentive and inspired.

Engagement Factors:

  • Storytelling ability.
  • Audience interaction.
  • Use of humor and anecdotes.

7. Logistical Planning

Finally, consider the logistics. Is the speaker available on your event date? What are their technical requirements? Do they need a specific setup for their presentation? Good planning ensures a smooth experience for both the speaker and the audience.

Logistical Considerations:

  • Speaker availability.
  • Technical and equipment needs.
  • Travel and accommodation arrangements.

In conclusion, choosing the right guest speaker is a multifaceted process that requires careful consideration and planning. By understanding your audience, aligning with your event’s goals, and ensuring the speaker’s ability to engage and inspire, you can create a memorable and impactful event.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on choosing guest speakers. Have you used a different approach? What challenges have you faced? Please share your insights in the comments below!