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Art of Public Speaking:

20 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Speaker

Hiring a speaker can be difficult. For an accomplished speaker you need to determine the speakers skill with the art of public speaking. The following checklist should guide you in assessing that skill.
  1. Is the speaker's topic right for my audience?
  2. Does the speaker have verifiable references?
  3. 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 room.
  4. Does the speaker customize? To what level?
  5. Is the speaker entertaining as well as informative?
  6. 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?
  7. Does the speaker provide handout masters and/or finished handouts? Often your organization's name, logo, and particulars can be incorporated in the handout.
  8. 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, and encourage questions.
  9. 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.
  10. Does the speaker accommodate hearing and sight impaired audience members? (i.e., Handouts in Braille, audio tapes, etc.)?
  11. 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 speaker.
  12. Does the speaker "hardsell" products from the platform?
  13. Is the speaker's office responsive to requests for information? Will the speaker's bureau help you get answers to all of your questions?
  14. 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 adjustments?
  15. What is the speaker's fee?
  16. 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.
  17. Does the speaker offer any discounts on his or her fee? (For certain geographical areas, resorts, time of year, non -profit organization)?
  18. Can the speaker fill more than one slot which will save money on hiring another speaker and paying additional travel costs?
  19. What are the payment terms of the speaker's contract? Typically, a 50 percent deposit is required to hold a speaker's date.
  20. 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 all these questions have been answered to your satisfaction, the decision to hire or not should be much easier. Don't settle for someone who makes you uncomfortable--it's worth the time to do thorough research. Someone who practices the art of public speaking will be better speaker for your group.
Copyright 1998 - 2004

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