Dan Ake | Nov 28, 2011
Choosing speakers for your conference is important to convey the quality level and spectrum of learning your attendees can expect. Choosing the right speakers help drive registrations and press coverage – not just for the current year, but for years to come. Therefore, it’s important to look at both the type of speaker, their reputation when speaking at prior conferences and their current personal standing in the industry.
In general, there are three types of speakers:
- Industry speakers
- Celebrity speakers
- Professional speakers.
Somebody that you know probably in your industry channels. They probably work for a company. They have a depth of expertise based on their experience working in that company or with a certain product, process, or design. They are doing it because that is part of their job or plain passion. An evangelist, a preacher. An industry speaker is asked to come in and talk to another organization, not necessarily his company. Generally they have a depth of a specific topic, and you want to bring in that topic for him to come and speak for you.
They have a well-known name. They’re pretty famous in that world and they’re going to come in for some money because they’re pretty much guaranteeing that they’re going to be able to bring people who want to see them speak. Celebrities have their own cache, they have their own requirements they tend to be a little bit more pricey. They are also about having a specific depth of their expertise, generally they’re story tellers of their accomplishments in life. And so the flavor is a little bit different in that they’re focusing more on themselves and sharing stories about themselves generally speaking, whereas in the industry speakers is not necessarily talking about themselves per se, they’re talking about a topic that the audience would be interested in.
Somebody who isn’t a celebrity, but they’re also getting paid for their depth of expertise. And so you have a wide range of abilities and skills in that professional speaking spectrum. And you know it’s generally somebody who has a depth but they also have an accomplished platform presence. They are able to convey their message in a way that is engaging and inspiring for the audience. And that might not be true for the industry speaker, because the industry speaker is just looking at content.
And of course there are speakers who are a mix of all three – former US Presidents are celebs and demand hefty fees. Tech Titans such as Steve Ballmer is an Industry Expert and tech celebrity.
Which category is the best?
All three categories are equally able to convey their message in a powerful way. But you just have to be aware of their difference of approach. The industry speaker may or may not be very eloquent, may or may not have the content expertise that you’re looking for. Theprofessional speaker you would hope that they have the required expertise as well as the platform presence or what I called the eloquence. And then a celebrity speaker, you know you’re buying the celebrity name. So whatever personality they have and they may or may not be a good speaker.
Doing an online investgation is a good way to evaluate your potential speaker’s performance. You can see what kinds of articles or books they’ve written, you know where they’re spreading their word, so to speak. You can also go online and see their video on YouTube, or their demo video. See if they’ve posted anything. It is an easy way to get content and know their platform skills in advance.
Another area to look at is their testimonials. What are their clients saying about? Are they satisfied? You can also go look at social media sites, such as Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, and see if they have any recommendations or testimonials there. Look at what other people are saying about them.
With the passing of Steve Jobs, not only did we lose a tech visionary and a leading example of allowing passion to drive innovation but also, one of the greatest conference speakers of our time.