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Three out of every four people are terrified of public speaking. Something in our human nervous systems can cause even the most extraverted person to feel anxious, sweaty, confused, or even frozen when presenting to an audience.

It’s no wonder, then, that we are mesmerized by speakers who can not only present themselves clearly and confidently in front of a large group of people, but can do so eloquently and persuasively. Public speaking is a true skill and an art form that few have mastered.

However, it is not always an easy task to find and hire a motivational or keynote speaker for a conference or event. It can be challenging to know where to start or to know who will truly connect with and inspire your audience. In the best case scenario, a speaker will engage the audience emotionally and intellectually, empowering them to rise to new heights and imbuing them with a renewed sense of energy and motivation. In the worst case scenario, a speaker can bore or even create resentment in the audience.

Whether you are hiring a speaker for a personal or business event, here are ten tips for finding the right individual to connect with your audience.

  1. Determine your parameters. There is no point in getting excited about a speaker who is out of your budget or who is unavailable for your particular event. Decide your parameters and restrictions ahead of time so that you can find someone who fits your particular needs and criteria. Important factors to consider include date, time, location, budget and technological capabilities of your venue.
  2. Set the tone. Every motivational speaker has a different energy and tone. Do you want someone who will leave your audience in stitches or someone who will inspire a sense of passion and commitment, or maybe someone who will leave them thinking creatively about new and innovative solutions? Decide on tone and general messaging before you go hunting for public speaker candidates.
  3. Consider your audience demographics. If you want to hire a speaker who will really connect with your audience, you want to look for someone who can relate to them in terms of background and experience. For example, hiring an older male speaker for an audience of young, female entrepreneurs may be a little out of touch. As you review candidates, examine your internal bias and make sure your own assumptions and preferences are not getting in the way of what will resonate most with your audience.
  4. Get buy-in from decision makers. If you are not the person who will make the final decision about which speaker to hire for your next event, make sure you are in communication with the person or people who will be making the call and signing the check. It would be disappointing to get your heart set on a candidate only to have them nixed by higher ups.
  5. Find examples online. It is hard to get a sense of someone’s speaking style without seeing them in person. When researching speakers, see if you can find video clips online of their previous speeches or presentations. If you are considering a speaker but can’t find examples of their work online, contact them and ask if they have an unlisted clip they can share with you to aid you in your decision process.
  6. Ask for recommendations. If you are finding yourself struggling to find a motivational speaker or are unsure of where to start, reach out to friends and colleagues for advice and recommendations. Other individuals in your industry may have worked with a speaker in the past whom they can refer to you.
  7. Search social media. Browsing social networking platforms such as Facebook and Instagram or even TikTok can be an excellent way to find motivational or keynote speakers for your next event. Typically, speakers with social media accounts will showcase their personality through their personal pages and also post video clips of their work so that you can get a taste for their style and experience.
  8. Listen to podcasts and TED Talks. Online content sources like podcasts and TED Talks can be a great place to find speakers. Find someone who motivates and inspires you and reach out to them—even if they do not bill themselves specifically as a motivational speaker. Don’t be afraid to consider a speaker with a background that is outside your direct industry. Your audience may find a fresh source of inspiration in a speaker with a different professional or personal background.
  9. Reach out to book authors. Not all writers double as public speakers, but the ones who do have a highly skilled way with words that can captivate audiences and open their minds to new ideas and concepts. Review books and articles that relate to your industry or event theme and reach out to the authors directly to ask their availability to speak at your next event. You may be referred to the author’s agent, and in that case you may need to ask if you can interview the author directly to determine whether they would be a good fit for your event.
  10. Search online speaker platforms. There are online platforms that list and feature motivational speakers for hire. For example, Athlete on Demand connects companies and organizations with speakers who are current or former professional athletes. You can filter your search on the Athlete on Demand website to find the perfect speaker or MC for your next event.

The quality of a keynote or motivational speaker can make or break an event—whether it is a conference, graduation, fundraiser, or team building event. At the end of the day, it is simply not worth it to hire a dull or unskilled speaker, so take your time finding the perfect fit to engage and inspire your audience.

Athlete on Demand connects organizations with motivational sports celebrities for a range of events and speaking engagements. We empower current and retired professional athletes transitioning to entrepreneurship by eliminating middle men like booking agents and giving athletes more control over their business careers.