Tips On Working With Professional Speakers: Keynote Speaker And Event Planning Tips

As a professional keynote speaker, I certainly have my own opinions on professional speaking and event planning. I thought this might be a nice opportunity to summarize some of the advice of my recent keynote speaker-related articles in one column, and pair them with tips from another, and extremely expert, source.

So: Half these tips are from me/based on my own experiences. The rest of these tips come from the illustrious Dr. Nick Morgan (a professional communications expert, bestselling author, coach to speakers at Harvard and in the real world).

1. Dr. Nick Morgan, professional communications expert: “To get the best out of a professional speaker, live up to your part of the contract, do an interview with the speaker beforehand so that you can tell him/her about your audience, if possible, set up interviews with a few audience members, make all the logistics as easy and simple for the speaker as possible, and don’t throw last minute surprises ”” or technological disasters at the speaker.”

2. Micah Solomon, keynote speaker/author of this article: Your keynote speaker may be happy to help you with promotion ahead of time. It’s quite possible, actually, that we are better at promotion than you are. And by helping promote the event (brief teaser webinars, mentioning you in tweets, etc.) we keep our promotional chops fresh. For example, adds Nick, “Get your keynoters to send in 30 – 60- second video clips beforehand talking up the speech. This helps with internal and external promotion.”

3. Nick: “It matters how the room’s arranged. Round tables (’rounds’ in industry parlance) are the most common kind of seating at conferences ”” and the worst for speaking audiences.” (An aside from Micah: The reason you want to avoid seating your audience at round tables is that rounds ensure a lot of the audience has its back to the speaker. Plus, they put distance between people, which can reduce the synergistic effect of humor on a crowd.)

4. Micah: A keynote speech is a distillation, sort of a highlights reel. If we’re good, we’ll be sure to get in the most important, most inspiring, most change-provoking items, but there’s still a lot of detail that’s inevitably left unsaid in the time available.

5. Or, as Nick puts it, “A keynote speech is not an effective means of creating detailed next steps, plans, or high-depth strategic ideas. An audience is too busy responding to a keynote speaker’s message to work on such details.”

6. But, says Micah, If you want more, keynote speakers are here to help (most of us are, anyway).


Email your speaker after the show and she or he will likely be happy to expand on the discussion of a particular topic


Read our books. In fact”¦

7. Micah: One way to ensure the keynote speaker’s message lasts within your organization is to consider purchasing books for your audience. Heavens, yes, of course we will sign them. The wrist cramps are well worth the ability to get our books out there; books are important ambassadors for our message and insight.

8. Nick on the traits a successful keynote speaker will bring to the lectern: “These include passion, expertise, and long experience with the topic. You can also expect a professional to be consistent, on message, appropriately dressed, having done his/her homework and able to cope with a variety of last-minute changes and situations.”

–and, approximately as importantly–

9. Micah: Great keynote speakers aren’t boring. This is a big part of why you hire us to kick off or close out your event. As the first CEO who hired me (you know who you are –thank you!) told me, “I have plenty of employees who can go up there and be boring. I have you as the keynote because you’re not.”

10.Nick on fees/what you should expect to pay: “For a good speaker who has a book out, 10-15-20K and up. [Micah: I charge in this range, currently.] Travel is additional.” [Micah: Indeed: Plus travel. I have to get there to speak.] For a New York Times bestselling author, you can expect to pay 40K and up.”

Nick, continued: “Meeting planners tend to try to squeeze the speakers, but it’s a mistake. If you’re running a conference with 500 people, think of what you’re spending on the venue, food and drinks, rooms, etc.: trying to chisel the speaker down is counterproductive.”

–and, by the way–

11. Micah: We’re pretty sure you can afford our fee. A good keynote speaker costs less than the bagel platters you paid the convention hall to put out. (And is probably less stale.)


12. Keynote speakers also know there are exceptions to this ”˜you can afford our fee’ generalization, and we may be happy to help. If you’re Operation Smile, if it’s a very small audience, if you’re in Bora Bora, if you’re our kid’s school.

You get the idea. And all you have to do is ask.


“Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology.”Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder

Micah Solomon Ӣ Helping you enchant the customer of today.


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“One of the very few keynote speakers who are enjoyable and informative at the same time.” – Eric Kline, The Payroll Group Conference
“Bring Micah to your organization to hear what he has to say. It will change your business. He has written the book on customer service, literally. ” – Jon Mueller, 800-CEO-READ – Website, blog, and free chapter of Micah’s latest business bestseller, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service (American Management Association/AMACOM Books)