“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!
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
Arthur, a manager at a mid-size firm, read a troubling statistic: According to Harvard Business Review, one in five high-performing employees plans to leave their job in the next six months. He wanted to groom his high-performing employees for success, growing their leadership skills. But how do I know I’m not just priming them for a job with some other company? he wondered.
High-performers are 400% more productive than average employees, says the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Arthur knew he couldn’t afford to lose his best people.
Then he read another stat: High-performing employees are only a little more satisfied with their jobs than other employees. He had an epiphany: His high-performers should get more from their job and workplace than they’re currently getting. If he gave them more, he’d increase their loyalty. Working with an executive coach, Arthur devised the following strategy.
- Implement a Thorough Onboarding Process
Thorough onboarding greatly improves retention, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). When employees understand how to contribute, they feel more satisfied—and stay longer. Onboarding ideally lasts around a year—it’s more a talent development process than an orientation, says SHRM.This process should thoroughly help employees to understand the workplace culture, how they’re evaluated, the tools at their disposal, and how their roles relate to the company’s vision, SHRM adds. Taking these steps will help mitigate the main reasons why employees leave their jobs early on.
- Provide Plenty of Guidance
According to a 2015 Gallup study, half of all employees who resign leave because they don’t like their bosses. Managers who give little guidance in setting goals and priorities, and who aren’t consistently available to answer questions, are the primary reason behind their choice to leave.The younger generations of employees particularly expect a great deal of feedback and support from their supervisors. Giving them what they want will keep them from seeking it elsewhere. Hold regular one-on-one meetings with all employees to discuss their progress, challenges, and expectations.
- Create a Succession Plan (and Communicate It)
If your high-performing employees don’t know your succession plan (or if you need to create one), they’re probably thinking about other career moves they can make. Involving them in the succession plan will give them more incentive to stay. Start preparing employees for more advanced roles early and pairing them with mentors who can support their development. Provide leadership training or executive coaching to help them get ready to handle the increased responsibility. Choose your trainer wisely, selecting someone who will do the legwork to understand your employees’ challenges and offers ongoing mentoring. Help your people improve their perception, visibility, and influence so they can go further.
- Support Flexible Career Paths
The standard career ladder of generations past doesn’t always apply anymore. More often than not, once employees are exposed to a variety of job roles, they begin redefining their career objectives. In your one-on-one sessions, make it clear that you support such changes, as you want everyone to follow their passion. Help employees find appropriate mentors within the organization who can help them prepare for a new role, if they choose a different path.
- Don’t Put a Cap on Incentives
According to Harvard Business Review, 73% of high-performing firms choose not to place a cap on bonus pay. When rewards are not capped, it signifies that the possibilities you can achieve together are unlimited.
- Minimize Stress
Employees who regularly feel stressed are more likely to leave their workplaces, says the APA’s 2017 Work and Well-Being Survey. Ask your employees what creates stress for them, like organizational changes, interpersonal conflict, or work/life balance issues. Then create a plan together for addressing it. Reducing work stress will also give you more star performers, as it boosts productivity.
High-performing employees might not always stick around forever, but more of them will stay for much longer when you implement these strategies. Arthur found that when he showed employees his commitment to their success and satisfaction, they displayed a great deal of loyalty to the company as well.
Retain your high performing employees by offering them an executive coach to show a continued commitment to their development.
“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson~
Damion’s goal was to become a great leader. He’d been under some mediocre leaders and wanted to do a better job than that. He looked at other leaders in the company and got some ideas of leadership skills from them.
But he felt there was more than what he was seeing. He wanted both the “why” and the “how” to become an outstanding leader. So he started reading. If you want to help yourself become a better leader, books are an excellent resource.
Damion’s created a list of leadership books that had the greatest impact on his career success. Damion offered to share them with you so you, too, could become a stand-out leader.
- On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. Forbes magazine called Warren Bennis “the dean of leadership gurus.” This thought leader book resonated with Damion because Bennis affirms that leaders aren’t born, they are made. He lays out how to release the leader within us. He offers a valuable list of leadership attributes.
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You by John Maxwell. Damion said, “This legacy leader book left me inspired. His examples of great leaders helped me grasp the intangibles of leadership and helped me see behind the scenes of outstanding leadership in action.” Then he distills these traits into his laws of leadership.
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell. Damion wanted to see some changes in his company culture. Gladwell’s book gave him great insight into how to use the connectors, mavens, and salesmen within the company to make those changes. It also showed how important it is to stop a problem early on before it gets to the tipping point.
- First, Break All the Rules (1999), by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. This book cuts through the theories and tells what leaders actually DO. Do successful leaders live by the rules? No. Gallup polls helped Damion understand the value of management along with leadership.
- Getting Ahead by Joel Garfinkle. Damion started out as a “do-great-work-and-it-speaks-for-itself” kind of guy. Garfinkle’s book helped him see that his work would never speak loud enough. Advancement involves getting others to see you and your work in a positive light. What’s more, we can control how others think of us, how we are viewed, and how we influence. Powerful stuff.
- How to be a Great Boss by Joel Garfinkle. Promotion doesn’t automatically confer leadership ability. This e-book talks about 7 key qualities of a good boss— from an employee’s point of view. What makes you the kind of leader employees want to work with? Garfinkle helped Damion see places to improve.
Damion found that reading books on and about leadership improved his confidence and the quality of his work. It gave him access to the brightest minds and a broad world of ideas and techniques. Then he pulled out the ones that best fit with his situation, his abilities and his personality and added them to his set of skills. There are many tools to help you grow as a leader. Books are one of the easiest and least expensive leadership development tools.
If you’re ready to step up your leadership skills to the next level and see major results, contact executive coach Joel. He can help move you forward faster.
What books have you read that have had an impact on your job and your leadership skills?