We are Event Strategy Group.

keynote speaker

How to Determine the Right Keynote Speaker for Your Event

Many conference designers leave the selection of the keynote speaker to the last minute. Doing so, however, can doom the event if they make their choice without appropriate or careful consideration of how that person will influence the experience of conference guests.

Instead, conference developers should use personality, presentation, and message of the keynote speaker as a unifying theme to tie all conference elements together to achieve its ultimate goals – a group of happy and inspired attendees and another group of even more satisfied presenters and vendors.

Keynote speakers are not all the same

The purpose and content of a keynote speech are what set it apart from all other speeches. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is considered as one of the best American speech ever made, not because of its complexity or simplicity but because it captured the spirit and magnitude of the historic event where he gave it. How do you pick a keynote that will match the spirit and message of your event? Learn from the best and follow Dr. King’s example:

Choose your speaker type

The choice of a speaker is usually related to the nature of the conference and the goals of its presenters. Some events are designed to inspire attendees, while others are used to educate or train guests. Individual corporations may want subject matter experts to engage with their workers, while an entrepreneurial intention may lead to the selection of more forward-thinking visionaries as the primary speakers. Depending on your event goals, you may want to explore the value of a variety of speaker traits when considering who to invite as your keynote presenter.

Define your subject and objective

Just like the speaker changes based on event goals, be sure that the subject matter of your keynote speech ties closely to your ultimate conference objectives. In Dr. King’s case, his speech was designed to unify and inspire the crowd and to stimulate ever-increasing engagement in the civil rights movement. Your objective may be to educate company sectors about emerging expectations or trends or perhaps to introduce newly released products or services to your best customers. No matter what your objective is, your event will be successful if your chosen keynote speaker focuses on highlighting your purpose and connects eventgoers to your goals.

Be pragmatic: set a budget

As utilitarian as it sounds, setting a budget for your speaker helps you to further tailor your event for its anticipated success. Yes, highly paid speakers can often be worth the extra expense, but if your conference includes other bonuses for attendees, such as product giveaways, deeper learning opportunities or broader networking capacities, then reducing those values for a more expensive speaker may not be your best option.

Once you’ve identified your subject matter and objective, be sure to investigate a number of potential candidates who charge a range of price points for their services. You’ll certainly find one who can deliver the message of your event at the price you choose to pay.

Research your candidates

Not all speakers are the same, even when they charge an equal amount and promise to speak on your preferred topics. The internet offers exceptional opportunities to watch your potential speaker’s prior presentations so you can evaluate their stage presence, relatability and suitability for your purpose. Sometimes, their previous clients have also posted reviews or comments about the presentations or speaker that can illustrate where that person will – or won’t – fit for your event. You can also often find contact information for previous customers who are usually happy to share with you directly their experience with the proposed speaker.

Give us a call


No matter your event size, location or audience, ESG can help you source precisely the right keynote for your objectives. Using our vendor savvy approach and decades of experience in the business, we can pull more than a few strings in order to find the perfect speaker to deliver on your event’s potential. Contact us today to get started.