Finding the Right Speaker for the Right Audience at the Best Price

You’ve heard the adage, “champagne taste on a beer income.” This applies when looking for the right speaker at the right price. You want name recognition to be a draw for your meeting, but you also have to manage your budget. So, what can you do?

The four major steps in securing the right speaker for the right price are as follows:

  1. Determine the meeting objectives
  2. Know the budget restraint
  3. Locate your resources (research)
  4. Put everything in writing

Meeting Objectives

Determining your meeting objectives is critical; if you don’t know the expectations, how can you meet the goals? Just like going shopping, if you know what you are seeking you are likely to find it. Otherwise, you’ll just wander around the store and never find what you are seeking.

Also, know the demographics of your group: male to female ratio, average age, primary profession and education level will help determine your next speaker.

Budget Considerations

Know how much your organization is willing to spend on a speaker. Keep in mind, there are other considerations in the negotiation of the fee. Members of your group may be able to offer goods or services that you might barter for a lower speaker fee. Some suggestions to consider when bartering with your speaker are as follows:

  • Videotaping the presentation
  • Selling their products
  • Offer letters of endorsements to other peer groups
  • Dual bookings…regional meetings perhaps
  • Golf packages, spa packages, membership into the organization
  • List of attendees with addresses and email addresses
  • Offer to let speaker write an article pre-/post-conference
  • Host a forum or poolside chat with key decision-makers within your organization
  • Donation to his/her favorite charity

This list is limited only by your creativity. Giving something of value for the speaker to reduce his/her fee creates a win-win situation for both parties.

Do Your Research

The RIGHT speaker can add sizzle to your meeting, so how do you find “the one”? Asking others who hire speakers is invaluable. Professional organizations that use speakers can assist in your search. Even the Internet can be a valuable resource, but don’t use this avenue exclusively. Develop a relationship with a speaker bureau—they can be most helpful in locating the RIGHT speaker for your organization.

Interview your candidates. Review their promotional materials, references, certifications and referrals. If the speaker is not asking you questions in return, then look for someone who is more engaging, because this is a partnership. Look for the EXPERT rather than someone who can “speak on anything.”

Prior to making your final decision, get your candidates on a conference call with the final decision-maker to see how they will customize their remarks for your meeting objectives. Listen to your intuition…it is 99% correct most of the time.


Put everything in writing. Leave nothing to chance! Be sure to include these items in your agreement:

  • Program date, location, city
  • Beginning and end time of this program
  • Fee
  • Expenses. Be specific, some speakers include their travel in their fees (so be sure to ask).
  • Audiovisual needs (equipment) and stage set
  • Payment schedule
  • Deadlines
  • Cancellation clause. Specify what happens if YOU cancel the event.
  • Contact numbers: emergency/on-site numbers in case any thing should happen at the last moment. Ask for the speaker’s mobile number, too.

For this to be a partnership, your speaker will need the following from you:

  • Annual report
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the organization
  • Key individual names and phone numbers
  • Expectations of your speaker
  • Printed conference materials
  • Speaker questionnaire returned within a timely manner; this helps them to customize their remarks

Your speaker is one of the most important aspects of your meeting, and the RIGHT speaker will make your meeting memorable. So, keep in mind

  • Purpose of the meeting
  • Researching the candidates
  • What to negotiate for a win-win partnership
  • What to include in the agreement

Call 1.800.787.2840 (tollfree) or 972.513.0054 to start your successful speaker search today.


About the Author:

Betty E. Garrett
Betty is a leader in Meeting Professionals International, having served as chapter president, and was the recipient of the Marion Kershner Memorial Leadership Award by MPI. The National Speakers Association named her the Partner of the Year, and she has helped many speakers gain momentum on the speaking circuit.