It takes less than 30 seconds for your audience to decide if they want to hear anything the keynote speaker has to say. It’s no secret that the right speaker can make or break your event.

The keynote is one of the most important aspects in creating a memorable experience for your attendees and for creating those raving reviews we all want after it ends. So here are a few guidelines for finding that perfect choice.

Hire someone who shares the vision for your event.

What do you want out of your event? The answer to this question matters more than any other factor (including budget, location & time) when you’re looking to book the perfect speaker.To put it simply, why does your event exist? Do you want to motivate, inspire, entertain, or inform? Maybe it’s a little of each. The point is, make sure you can put the reason into words.

The perfect speaker will communicate your vision, not decide it.

The best way to ensure your speaker is going to communicate what you want is knowing what you want yourself.

Hire someone who has an engaged following you’d like to reach.

A person with name recognition won’t help you if they speak to a different audience than the one you’re targeting. Hiring someone for their notoriety alone is an expensive mistake. You won’t have the long-term impact you’re looking for, especially if you host a recurring event. You want someone who is going to help attract the right demographic who will keep coming back long after the speaker has concluded his speech.

So check out the demographic of their social media following and which events they’ve already booked prior to yours. If you want their audience, chances are they are a great choice for your event.One more thing, don’t assume the speaker’s age or gender is directly related to their reach. Generations and genders often inspire each other. Plus, you get the bonus of the unexpected choice.

Hire someone referred to you by someone you trust.

The best way to ensure a speaker is the right choice is hearing them share in-person. But if this isn’t an option, the next best thing is a strong referral. While speaker’s websites and videos might give you a glimpse, they don’t communicate everything… like if they are a total diva to work with behind the scenes. Nightmare!

This will also give you a leg up when it comes to booking them in advance because you’ll have a direct way to contact them. Connections will always give you the leg up, so utilize your network to its full potential.

Hire someone willing to prioritize you.

Have you seen the speaker you’re interested in go above and beyond by partnering with and co-promoting other events? That’s a great sign! It means they view their speaking engagements as more than a way to pay the bills. It means they have authenticity and passion. A good speaker knows how to bring value by prioritizing their hosts, no matter the size of the event.

Beware of someone who’s sole focus is promoting their merchandise or business. While resources can be awesome, your event probably doesn’t exist to peddle them. It’s a red flag if they won’t include you in their preparation because it means they already know what they want to say. Find someone who wants to help you achieve your goals, in addition to achieving theirs.

Hire someone who fits in your budget.

A high honorarium doesn’t always mean high quality. At the same time, free doesn’t always mean better. Price is only one factor to consider. A great speaker is worth the money, but don’t rob the rest of your event to pay them. If you’ve got a dream to bring in a great speaker that’s way out of your league, use that as a motivation to grow your event. You’ll get there! And you’ll be glad that you didn’t go into debt to do it.

What do you think? Have you ever hired a speaker that absolutely killed it? Or have you ever had a total hiring nightmare? Tell us all about it in chat. We want to laugh (and cringe) with you…