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Event experience | 7 April 2016

Three Methods To Find The Best Keynote Speakers

JJ Bennett

As an event organizer, you are likely well aware of the role that speakers can play in the success of your event. Often headline speakers are used throughout event marketing initiatives to generate buzz and to increase event registrations.

An excellent keynote speaker can serve to inspire and educate your attendees, which in turn will help to satisfy and engage event goers. But many organizers are faced with a challenge when it comes to finding the perfect keynote speaker for an event.

While some organizers may choose to turn to an agency that represents a number of different speakers, there are other tools organizers should consider turning to when trying to find an ideal candidate.

In this blog post, readers will be introduced to nine resource that will help them identify potential keynote speakers with hidden value only knowable through a bit of online digging.

Let’s get started: 

Method 1: Use Social Media Tools To Find Niche Influencers

Authority figures in most niches today build their following and audience by regularly putting together useful content. As an organizer, you can use this to your advantage by seeking out authority figures who are developing content that is being read and shared by readers online.

One such tool that allows you to do this is BuzzSumo. With it, users can search for a specific topic and the tool will provide you with the most shared pieces of content related to that topic.

Let’s assume I am planning an event on content marketing, and I want to find popular influencers talking about this niche.

Just search:

“Content marketing” (in quotes for that exact phrase) in the Buzzsumo search bar to see the top ten most popular articles on this topic.

Use Buzzsumo to find event speakers

Buzzsumo shows that the most popular article related to my search is Crowdsourcing For Content Marketing, with over 23,000 social media shares.

I was surprised to see:

the article has been shared a number of times, the information inside isn’t new or insightful. It’s mostly basic how-to information.

So I went back to Buzzsumo to keep looking. I see that the third most popular article was published by the Harvard Business Review – now we’re talking.

The article is in-depth and insightful, I do a little research on the author (Kelsey Libert) to see if she’s considered an expert in her field.

A quick Google search of her name reveals that Ms. Libert is a regular HBR columnist and has contributed to other great outlets like Moz and Marketingland as well.

To dive in deeper:

I used a tool called Followerwonk to analyze the author’s Twitter followers.

As a rule, it’s a good sign if Twitter accounts have followers who are also considered to be influential in some way. Followerwonk shows that this author is followed by a majority of people who have some level of influence, as seen in the pie chart below.

Followerwonk to gauge speaker influence

Based on this research, I’d feel comfortable as an event organizer inviting the author of the HBR article to speak at my content marketing conference.

I know that the author is an expert in the field, based on her history of publishing highly valuable articles, I also know that her followers on Twitter feel she has some level of expertise to impart, given that the majority of them are deemed to be influential to some degree in their own right.

Method 2: Search Youtube For Talented Thought Leaders

Another great way to find keynote speakers is to turn to Youtube. Let’s say I’m planning a conference for salespeople in the technology industry and I want to find an expert keynote speaker who can educate my attendees.

I’m looking for someone who has a lot of industry experience, and who is also a polished presenter.

Typically finding a great speaker would be hard to do, but it took me 25 seconds to find the right speaker using Youtube.

I search “technology sales talks” and the first result I find is a presentation from Google Talk, an internal series of talks for Google employees.

The presenter is a well-renowned business person, the CRO (Mark Roberge) at HubSpot, a fast-growing technology company.

Keynote speaker Mark Roberge

After watching Mr. Roberge’s video, I know he not only knows what he’s talking about, but I can see that he is a great presenter and can hold the audience’s attention.

All that’s left for me to do is to look him up on LinkedIn and send him a message to see if he’s interested in speaking at my hypothetical sales conference.

It’s likely that some of the speakers I find on Youtube won’t be interested in speaking at my event. That’s fine, I can always ask the people I contact if they can recommend someone in their network instead.

If that happens, I can use the tools mentioned in method one to see how recommended speakers are regarded online.

Method 3. Poll Event Attendees

It might seem obvious, but your event attendees are most likely already aware of a few people who could make a great event speaker.

Why not collect attendee feedback to see if they can recommend a qualified speaker they are interested in hearing from?

To collect this sort of feedback, organizers have a few options.

If the event has an accompanying community on LinkedIn, Facebook or on an event networking platform, a simple poll should be able to be placed inside the online community for members to respond to.

If you haven’t created a networking group for your event, you have other options to poll or survey attendees. Free or inexpensive survey platforms like Typeform or Survey Monkey can be used to collect feedback from attendees.

To conduct this type of survey, you can do prior research using methods 1 and 2 to narrow down the list of potential speakers, or, you can ask survey respondents to write in/nominate speakers of their choice.

If done early enough, the fact that an event speaker was crowdsourced, can be implemented in your event marketing strategy to show potential attendees that the organizers are interested in listening to and following attendee recommendations. 

Next Steps

Different kinds of events will require slightly different approaches—for instance, there are some tricks that are unique to finding speakers for association eventsbut in general, you should find these tips to be a solid start for any event.

Give one of the methods mentioned in the article a try, and let us know how it worked in the comments below! 

Want to learn how to harness the power of attendees and speakers to increase ticket sales? Download The Event Marketing Playbook by clicking the button below!


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