“Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.” ― Gina Greenlee
Joyce, a manager at a fast-growing IT firm, had been tasked with finding the perfect motivational speaker for her company’s training seminar. She needed someone truly capable of nurturing her high-performing employees’ growth. As she surfed the web, she saw many slick websites but wondered how she could truly evaluate the quality of their work.
Selecting the right keynote speaker can mean the difference between a successful corporate conference and a colossal waste of time and money. If, like Joyce, you’re wondering how to book the right motivational speaker, you’re not alone.
Locating and booking a speaker can be overwhelming. Many speakers claim to provide keynote speeches that inspire and teach, but if you are committed to excellence, you’ll need to choose carefully. The best speakers instill not only enthusiasm, but also guidance and practical advice.
First you must determine your goal for the event. Do you wish to increase productivity among your employees or to nurture leadership in your management team, for example? Whatever your goal, you must find a keynote speaker who can deliver on it.
Want to know how to screen and book the right motivational speaker for you? Looking at these five points will help ensure you select a speaker who is the best fit for your company and your event’s objectives.
- Experience and credentials of the speaker.
Although a less-experienced speaker may be more economical for your event budget, a speaker with top-notch credentials will be a better long-term investment. Which companies have hired this speaker in the past? Look for experience presenting to companies that are similar to yours in focus, philosophy, and culture. Read the testimonials on your candidates’ websites, and contact references. Look at whether the speaker has published relevant articles and books that demonstrate expertise on the issues you wish to address.
- Customization for the corporate training.
To reach your conference participants, the keynote speaker must truly know your company and its people, environment, and culture. Look for someone who understands your event’s objectives and will spend significant time preparing for it by gathering information, communicating with event coordinators, and interviewing key participants. A great professional keynote speaker will be flexible, adapting the presentation to your company’s culture, your employees’ needs, and the style and tone of your event. That means when you talk with the speaker by phone or email, he should be asking you some pointed questions about your company and what you’re looking for. Choose a speaker who demonstrates that level of thoughtfulness, not someone who’s just trying to make a quick sale.
- Presentation format of the seminar.
Booking the right motivational speaker means hiring someone who offers a variety of formats, from structured self-inquiry to small-group activities to facilitated audience discussions. Great speakers understand that well-chosen team-building activities can have a powerful effect on morale. Judicious use of multimedia serves as another beneficial element in a great keynote address. Strong speakers can balance video and slideshow presentations with speaking and interaction with the audience.
- Speaking style of the motivational speaker.
When researching your candidates, watch a speaker’s videos of them in action. You know your company and employees, and you know what kind of speaking style will be accessible to them and their working environment. Most professional keynote speakers have videos on their websites. Watch them, and try to imagine them speaking at your event. Do they use motivational stories to create a dynamic talk, or do they dryly state their points? A speaker who races through content without pausing to gauge audience reaction can be just as ineffective as one who is plodding or hesitant. It’s important to have a speaking style that challenges and engages audiences.
- Immediate, measurable results for the participants.
Conferences and seminars are designed to leave employees inspired and motivated. Your employees should be able to implement what they have learned immediately because the speaker has shown them exactly how to do that. Book a motivational speaker who will provide participants with skills that they can take straight back to their desks, so they can begin transforming your company into a more productive and profitable enterprise. In your candidates’ videos, observe whether they effectively impart new skills and tactics to their audience—and in your conversation, ask for examples!
Booking the right professional keynote speaker will make all the difference in your event, and in your company. Use these five points to choose wisely, and you’ll find a speaker who genuinely cares about driving results and has the skills to do it.
Looking to book a speaker for your next event? Hire Joel Garfinkle because he is a motivational speaker who possesses these five qualities in abundance.
“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”
Easton Asks: I want to hire a great professional keynote speaker for an event I’m helping to plan. However, I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a feel-good speech that doesn’t deliver results. How can I find the speaker who will provide the best value?
Joel Answers: The cost of a hiring a professional speaker for your keynote address can vary significantly, but it’s important not to cut costs by choosing the cheapest speaker rather than the one who is best for the job. You want your event to shine, and that won’t happen unless you choose the best professional speaker you can afford. Having said this, no matter the cost, make sure the speaker’s service provides solid value.
What qualities should you require a keynote speaker to have?
Most importantly, the ability to not only fire up an audience but to empower them to think strategically about their careers. The best speakers catalyze lasting change by helping audiences devise a clear plan of action for stepping into leadership roles.
Whether you are hosting an all-day high-potential training or a corporate event, a professional keynote speaker has the power not just to motivate your employees, but also to help you cut costs by improving your people’s efficiency and productivity. They’ll learn strategies for working smarter, and by increasing their engagement, they’ll get more results.
- Ask questions of your professional speaker.
You can increase the value you’ll get from the speaker by asking plenty of questions during the screening process. Find out where the speaker’s strengths lie and determine whether those strengths match up with your company’s needs. Tell the speaker about the challenges your company is facing and ask how he will address those problem areas. You should interview at least two or three candidates before making a choice.
- Find out what other services the speaker offers.
Ask your candidates what services and programs they have to offer in addition to the keynote speech, and figure out how those can be incorporated into your event. Can they double as an emcee for your event? Can they hold a breakout session after the keynote address? Add an additional service or two that might normally require hiring multiple people but could be done by a single speaker, and you just might be able to get a discount and save money on the overall cost of the event.
- Treat your speaker as an investment, not an expense.
In order for your business to be profitable, you can only cut corners so much. As the old saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Remember that your speaker is an investment in your employees. If you pick the right speaker, you’ll see a measurable return on investment due to increased confidence, morale, and productivity. Only then will your event be a true success.
Wondering whether you’ve found the perfect speaker? Watch videos of your speaking candidates online to observe their speaking style. Any accomplished speakers will have videos that demonstrate whether they’re a truly captivating presenter. Are they charismatic—when they enter the room, would people turn their heads in anticipation of what they are going to say? Listen for the audience’s reaction, too—do funny anecdotes get a genuine laugh, or do jokes fizzle out? How does the overall pacing feel?
Did you watch a speaker’s video and think, I would love to have this person speak to my people! Set up a phone conversation. Ask questions like these:
- What types of audiences do you speak to?
- What kinds of tools do you share with employees for helping them make changes?
- Are you available to lead a breakout session and/or follow-up training?
With the right professional speaker, your keynote will give your employees an actionable plan they can implement to achieve their career goals. They’ll leave the session more driven, with clearer goals, and ready to implement the changes that will take their career and their company to the next level.
Hire Joel Garfinkle for a speaking engagement and see for yourself why he is one of the most sought-after motivational and professional speakers.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Patrice knew she needed to get serious about succession planning. As the Chief Human Resources Officer at a multi-billion dollar company, she had hundreds of aspiring leaders not prepared for the next level.
As part of this plan, she wanted to hire a corporate trainer to help the aspiring leaders by giving them the tools they needed for the next level. She knew her employees deserved a top-tier speaker, and she wanted someone who would provide the follow-up needed to ensure their success.
Hiring a top-notch speaker with the right expertise can change the game by shifting workplace culture. A skilled trainer can help employees break free of any undesirable patterns and fully leverage their company’s collective talent, guiding them to become great leaders.
Since she wanted to get a great return for her investment, Patrice carefully outlined a strategy for planning the training. If you’re looking for a corporate training for your company, here’s the 3-step process that the trainer should follow.
- Corporate training – pre-event briefing
What happens before the actual training or event is as important as the event itself. Prior to the corporate training, a good speaker will interview company leaders and key decision-makers as well as seminar participants to understand company dynamics and employee pain points.
The speaker might also inquire about past team-building or leadership skill-sharing initiatives, asking you to share what worked and what didn’t. By doing so, the speaker gains a deep understanding of the company culture and the people who will be attending the presentation.
The speaker can then give your company a corporate training that will address specific concerns instead of providing a superficial cookie-cutter solution that may sound grand but leaves no impact.
- Corporate training – during the event.
Effective speakers know how to train on leadership by incorporating genuine employee stories that emerged from pre-event discussions to make their arguments compelling. By sharing anecdotes, interacting with the audience, and asking questions, a good speaker ensures that participants are hanging on every word and leave fired up to work together as a team.
But is that enough? Not if you ask an exceptional trainer. To really get the speech to “stick,” the best corporate trainers also offer the company’s employees tools to help them unravel the pain points troubling them. Along with motivation, they deliver a plan of action that directly impacts the bottom line.
- Corporate training – post-event process.
So, the event was a raving success, the employees are fired up, they’re got the tools to get started—that’s the recipe for team-building success, right? Well, almost. The final ingredient to ensure that it all comes together is following up. Holding employees (and yourself) accountable is critical. Encourage employees to take on new creative projects and publicly reward those who take extra initiative. Roll up your sleeves and get involved; it says a lot about the way you lead. Email participants for feedback on the event or organize a post-event anonymous survey.
You can also invite the speaker to come back for a shorter follow-up event to reinforce the results you want. This can be done with a webinar. Finally, a great speaker might help you lay out a game plan for how to keep your team motivated and elevate their performance to higher levels.
Patrice found a speaker who understood the importance of coaching and mentoring employees as well as delivering a stellar motivational speech. The employees were ecstatic afterward, filled with the excitement of having new strategies for success and knowing their company took their growth seriously.
All corporate leadership trainings are not created equally. There’s a lot of work that goes into a uniquely designed customized seminar that fits the needs of your organization. Look for a speaker with a commitment to thorough pre-event preparation and post-event follow-up. The top candidates will not only answer your questions thoroughly, but will ask you insightful questions that show they’re working to understand exactly what you need a speaker to do. That’s the difference between a feel-good seminar and a company training that takes corporate success to a whole new level.
If you’re looking for real results, hire a corporate trainer who is a leading expert in the above 3-step process today!
“Trust is a core currency of any relationship. Sometimes our need to control and micromanage everything erodes our confidence in ourselves and others. The truth: People are much more capable than we think. A hearty dose of trust is often what’s needed to unlock the magic. Go ahead, have faith.”
Client Gerald asks: Some of the employees I supervise really seem to self-sabotage at work a lot. It’s clearly coming from a lack of belief in themselves. How can I instill confidence in my employees to get the best results from my team?
Coach Joel answers: Glad you reached out for support, Gerald. Employees who feel confident about their abilities will drive an organization’s success. Meanwhile, those who don’t believe in themselves will settle for the safety of mediocrity. By instilling confidence, you’ll prime your employees to take worthwhile risks, thereby growing into even better performers.
- Focus on strengths
Focusing on strengths doesn’t just make employees feel good—it’s far more effective than targeting weaknesses, according to Gallup’s research. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give feedback about areas for improvement, but don’t fixate on them too much. When employees use their areas of strength, they’re six times more likely to be engaged at work as those who don’t, Gallup emphasizes.
- Be specific with your praise
When you give praise, make it abundantly clear what behavior you’re praising. Highlight key strengths that led to a project’s success, or observations about things that employees consistently do well. Better yet, give this praise in front of others so employees feel their visibility growing.
- Reduce stress in the workplace
As Chris Adalikwu says in How to Build Self Confidence, Happiness, and Health, stress can make people feel less capable, even if they’re fully equipped to handle the situation at hand. Lowering workplace stress will thus bolster employees’ confidence. Being more flexible about deadlines if need be, encouraging employees to leave work at work, and ensuring they have all the tools they need to get the job done are just a few ways to reduce workplace stress.
- Have a plan for building skills
Develop a plan for how to help employees reach the goals you’ve set together during your performance reviews. Otherwise, they may feel daunted about how to get there. Focus on incremental growth, helping them build skills gradually over a series of projects rather than all at once. Small successes will give them the courage to persevere.
- Coach them from the sidelines
If an employee feels daunted about taking on a challenging project, don’t just throw her into it and hope for the best. Instead, coach her from the sidelines. Check in often (but without micromanaging how she does things). Ask if she has questions or needs advice, so she knows it’s okay to feel confused or want feedback.
- Ask them for help
The four most powerful words you can use as a leader are “I need your help.” Say them often, whether you need help with a task, developing a new strategy, or helping the company through a transition.
- Model confident behavior
Some leaders strive to appear invulnerable, but that sets a poor example for everyone. Show your people that strong leaders have questions, need support from others, and solicit others’ advice. Ask for their opinions, and for their feedback on how you can be a better boss. In doing so, you’ll instill self-confidence in your employees and improve communication in the workplace.
As you implement these tips for building people’s confidence, you’ll see your team blossom. To further enhance their growth, consider hiring a motivational trainer who will work to thoroughly understand and address the challenges your people face.
Contact executive coach Joel for more support in growing as a leader so you’ll get the most from your people.
“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Trevor wanted his people to be pillars of innovation and creativity. When he came to me for coaching around innovation, he mentioned how fearful his team was in taking risks and possibly touching failure. I asked him, “What are you doing to celebrate failures?” Like many leaders, he had no answer. We then looked at some fun ways that corporate leaders have learned to take their failures and celebrate them. In doing so, they help their most creative people to develop exciting new ideas.
Celebrating your failures is just as important as celebrating your success. Here’s some ideas for you.
- Hold an Idea Funeral
Holding an idea funeral is a fun way to learn from the failure as a group, as Annabel Acton says in an Inc. article. Take turns eulogizing the idea or project you’re “burying,” sharing lessons learned. Focus on its merits as well as the reasons it ultimately failed. This creates a culture of trying out new ideas and learning from the results. “Startup funerals” have taken off as well, as budding entrepreneurs are increasingly embracing failure as a stepping-stone to success.
- Create a Fail Wall
The finance website NerdWallet creates a “Fail Wall” where mistakes are posted, emphasizing that everyone fails and honoring outside-the-box thinking. Why not set up a “Fail Wall” in your own workplace? Give it a brightly colored banner and encourage people to write down their failures on post-it notes and stick them on the wall.
- Give a Heroic Failure award
Advertising company Grey gives a “Heroic Failure” award to employees who take ambitious risks and go down in flames. Giving this award changes the culture of feeling shame or humiliation if a risk doesn’t pan out. Rather than letting failure become part of people’s identity, they become branded as risk-takers.
- Hold a “F— Up Night”
In a popular social meetup event called “F— Up Nights,” a handful of entrepreneurs tell their stories about failure, followed by a Q&A session. These events been held in over 250 cities across 80 countries. Hold a similar event with your own people, encouraging everyone to take a turn at the mic. If it’s a hit, hold a series of them so everyone gets time to share and ask questions. Find a fun way to host the event outside of the office, like reserving a large room at a restaurant or finding a community space that hosts performances.
- Record What You’ve Tried
Keep a track record of failures, with detailed information about what people tried. Just as a failed cancer drug proved incredibly useful for managing the AIDS virus, a past failure can become a wild success in a different context. Take notes on why the idea failed—it might succeed under the right conditions, or if certain aspects of it are revamped.
It’s most fitting to celebrate failures related to innovation, rather than execution, Harvard Business Review points out. You want to celebrate the failures that show you took a leap. If someone failed to follow through on a task, you obviously won’t want to throw a party. If she gave her all in a new project and it just didn’t achieve the desired results, that’s different. Celebrating those kinds of failures will help your people learn to fail gracefully, growing from the experience.
Most importantly, stop thinking—and talking—in terms of “win/lose.” When you eliminate the shame around failure, and show it’s okay to be vulnerable, people can talk about it. That means they can learn from it, finding the germ of a great idea within it.
Want more advice on boosting creativity and innovation in your company? Hire leadership coach Joel Garfinkle so he can help you develop and implement ideas that get results.