20 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Speaker
When taking a public speaking course you will find
that there are good questions to ask a speaker before you hire them.
These questions will help you to find the right kind of speaker to suit
any engagement. It was designed to help you determine their skill level.
- Is the speaker's topic right for my audience?
- Does the speaker have verifiable references?
- Does the speaker have audio and/or video
demonstration materials? These materials should show you what the
speaker is like in front of an audience. Caution: Don't get hung up on
the topical information on the demo tape. Remember that you are
looking to see how the speaker or trainer works at the front of the
- Does the speaker customize? To what level?
- Is the speaker entertaining as well as informative?
- Does the speaker do thorough pre- program research?
Will the speaker be interviewing employees or members of the
organization, or obtaining information about the organization and
industry to prepare for the presentation?
- Does the speaker provide handout masters and/or
finished handouts? Often your organization's name, logo, and
particulars can be incorporated in the handout.
- Does the speaker involve the audience? Depending on
the type of presentation (is this a lecture or a training workshop?),
the speaker should speak directly to the audience, andencourage
- Does the speaker use only clean and appropriate
humor? Off-color, racial, ethnic, gender, or even slightly blue jokes
or comments can turn your audience off in a heartbeat. Ask the
speaker's references about this.
- Does the speaker accommodate hearing and sight
impaired audience members? (i.e., Handouts in Braille, audio tapes,
- Is the speaker accessible to all attendees before
and after the event? Make sure the speaker is willing to arrive
early and stay for a while after the event. The audience will
want to shake hands, ask questions, get autographs, and ask about
materials for sale. Tip: Always include a break after each
- Does the speaker "hardsell" products from the
- Is the speaker's office responsive to requests for
information? Will the speaker's bureau help you get answers to
all of your questions?
- Is the speaker easy to get along with (Determined
from references and personal conversations)? Does he or she make
stringent demands? Is he or she willing to make last-minute
- What is the speaker's fee?
- Is the speaker's fee negotiable? If yes, what do
you have of value to give in return for a fee reduction?
Possibilities might be a video tape master, list of attendees,
testimonial letter, referrals, extra night accommodations, choice of
time slot, choice of date, multiple performance contract, extra
publicity, spouse airfare and meals, products, or services.
- Does the speaker offer any discounts on his or her
fee? (For certain geographical areas, resorts, time of year, non
- Can the speaker fill more than one slot which will
save money on hiring another speaker and paying additional travel
- What are the payment terms of the speaker's
contract? Typically, a 50 percent deposit is required to hold a
- Can you arrange to preview the speaker at nearby
functions to get a clear picture of the speaker's delivery, manner,
language, and poise?
After they have answered your questions satisfactory, the decision
to hire or not should be much easier. Your skills you learned in
your public speaking course will help you in picking the right
speaker for the job. Don't settle for someone doesn't have the style
your looking for--it's worth the time to do thorough research and
find the right one.
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