Rolling out new initiatives is an important investment for any organization.  Get it right and your company can boost profitability. Get it wrong and you’ll be hung out to dry at the next stakeholders meeting.

Finding the right professional speaker is a crucial component to supporting your initiatives and ultimately your meeting’s success. Even if a speaker only has the stage for an hour, his or her words can resonate deeply with attendees. Author, business futurist, and professional speaker Nick Webb sums it up nicely: “If they aren’t engaged, the impact is in millions of dollars.”

So what does “right” look like when it comes to speakers?

Look for:
• Speakers who are willing to plan a series of pre-event conference calls with stakeholders, and who ask targeted questions to thoroughly grasp what kind of outcomes are desired. A good speaker will ask how you and your stakeholders want attendees to feel and behave following the talk. By digging deeper, a professional speaker can give the audience crisp, job-relevant insights.

• Speakers who customize their presentations specifically for your organization, needs,and issues.

• Speakers who have a process in place for following up, and following through, on their talk. Good speakers will provide attendees tools and techniques so they can implement the ideas outlined in a presentation. This might be additional content in an e-newsletter or even a follow-up webinar to cement initiatives for attendees.

• Speakers who have direct experience in the business world. These speakers will better understand you, your company, and the issues you are facing and will be better equipped to help you reach your goals.

Beware of:
• Speakers who aren’t willing to have multiple calls to understand the ins and outs of your company, your culture, and your goals.

• Speakers who view your event as a transaction. Instead, you want to see signs they are genuinely interested in you, your company, your audience, and your goals. 

• Speakers who are more interested in what they get from the engagement than what they are giving you in return.

Remember that speakers can be more than corporate mouthpieces. There are a growing number who are committed business consultants that work with the C-suite to make sure they are doing everything possible to make their efforts a success. Another set of eyes on a complex business problem can give leaders the perspective they need to effectively communicate changes. 

Diane Goodman, president of the Goodman Speakers Bureau, emphasizes this point: “If a company doesn’t take the time to select the right speaker for a meeting where they are rolling out a new initiative or other change, they can be risking an awful lot. It’s not just a reputation that can take a hit.  Some of these changes mean millions of dollars to stakeholders. A lot is riding on the success of a single meeting.” 

Speakers who maximize your ROI will deliver the messaging that inspires results. “Companies are looking for real help,” says Nick Webb. “My goal is to surgically connect the message to the audience. I don’t just give them good content.  I give them practical strategies to act upon that content.” 

Webb is an example of a growing trend among professional speakers—a trend that “isn’t just about content,” says Goodman. “It extends to servicing the client and collaborating on the delivery of key outcomes.”

Karen E. Lynn is marketing and communications manager at Goodman Speakers Bureau.