How to Hire a Quality Keynote Speaker

If we’re honest, a huge selling point when figuring out whether or not to attend a conference depends on who the keynote speaker will be. As a planner when hiring your keynote speaker, what you can afford will factor in to your decision, but you should also:

  1. Look at the role the speaker will have in your conference (e.g., motivational/inspirational or trend expert).
  2. Think about why you’re hiring a keynote speaker and the results you’d like to achieve (e.g., educate, promote awareness, or inform/entertain). contributor Micah Solomon asked Dr. Nick Morgan, one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches for his advice on how to hire a quality keynote speaker.

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Scheduling keynotes during a meal—or right after one. The meal and the speaker should never be in competition for the attendee’s attention.
  • Asking to see the keynote’s presentation ahead of time and then distributing it to your attendees. Keep an element of surprise!

Best Practices to Keep in Mind

  • Add a dynamic emcee or host (Note: this person is not your keynote speaker) to interact with the audience throughout the day, create opportunities for interaction, and ensure that things don’t fall between the cracks.
  • Build in some breaks. Think of how much more you can accomplish if you create networking opportunities outside of mealtime.

Booking and Fees

  • Book your speakers at least six months out. That gives you a better chance of getting quality speakers you can adequately promote.
  • Fees will vary by speaker. For example: a published author could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 or more, while a New York Times bestselling author is $40,000 and up. And always remember that travel expenses are additional.

One final piece of advice for planners: don’t try to nickel-and-dime the speakers. Think of what you’re spending on the venue, food and drinks, rooms, etc., and you’ll understand why trying to shave off a few dollars from the speaker’s fee is counterproductive.

Have you thought about trying an innovative alternative to a keynote speaker? First, set up your next event on, then read this blog for six ideas on how to make your event stand out with an innovative alternative to a keynote speaker.