Strategies and Tips for Finding Top-Notch Event Speakers

January 11, 2024
Lindsay McGuire
Lindsay McGuire
Associate Director of Content and Campaigns at Goldcast

Event marketers juggle a lot. Strategy. Budget. Logistics. Analytics. And at the eye of the storm: high-impact events that generate revenue and drive your brand.

A lot (like, a lot) of factors influence an event’s success. But your content, and by proxy, your speakers, are way up there in terms of importance.

You know choosing the right speakers for your event is crucial—but how, exactly, do you make that happen?

A lot goes into identifying prospective speakers and pitching your event to them. And we’ll cover it all in this guide.

How to find speakers for your event

  1. Participate in industry communities
  2. Engage with thought leaders on social media
  3. Re-book top speakers from past events
  4. Reach out to industry associations
  5. Research competitor events

5 strategies for choosing event speakers

Let’s start at the beginning. How do you find potential speakers for an event?

The truth is, there are many ways you might come across the perfect speaker, but here are a few of our tried-and-true strategies.

1. Participate in industry communities

Keeping a pulse on industry communities can help you with content development, brand building, and event speaker identification. It’s just a smart move. 🤓

If you don’t have a community of your own, sign up to relevant industry forums and groups both locally and nationally. Speaker candidates hang out in all types of communities online, but for starters, check your favorite LinkedIn and Slack groups. By building relationships (or even just lurking) in these spaces, you can discover thought leaders worth recruiting.

Did you know? Goldcast runs a community for event and field marketers! Learn more about The Event Marketers Club.

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2. Engage with thought leaders on social media

Once you’ve identified influencers using the above strategy, follow your faves and join in on conversations related to your event topics. Reacts, comments, and reshares show you have mutual interests—and likely mutual audiences.

3. Re-book top speakers from past events

At Goldcast, we like to avoid reinventing the wheel. If your audience loved a past speaker, why not bring them back for an encore?

Check post-event survey reports to identify your highest-rated presenters. Reach out to them to see if they’re willing to speak again, whether it’s a new presentation or a deep dive into a subtopic that piqued attendees’ interest the first time around.

4. Reach out to industry associations

Industry associations and chambers of commerce often have speaker bureaus or lists of qualified and interested professional speakers. They can make referrals and connect you with members who may be a good fit for your upcoming event.

5. Research competitor events

We’re not telling you to hire the exact same speakers as your competitors, but if a competitor or peer pulls off an amazing event, there’s nothing wrong with studying how they did it.

It’s just one more way to figure out which topics and types of speakers resonate with your (shared) audience.

Types of speakers and which are right for you

Before you start reaching out to potential speakers, it’s important to figure out which type of speaker best fits your event. A motivational speaker will have a very different impact than an industry expert.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common types of speakers and which event goals they can help you achieve.

Keynote speakers

A memorable keynote speaker can really knock your audience’s socks off. Hire this type of speaker to inspire attendees, challenge their perspectives, and paint a vision of the future. Look for great storytellers who know how to motivate.

Perfect for: Inspiring your audience, setting the tone

Motivational speakers

Motivational speakers specialize in getting audiences hyped and ready for action. They’re a great choice to reenergize teams, spur creative thinking, and drive engagement. Their talks often incorporate humor, emotion, and unique experiences.

Perfect for: Energizing attendees, employee or customer engagement

Thought leaders

Thought leaders are pioneers in their field with an intimate knowledge of emerging trends. Hire one of them to provide the latest insights, future outlooks, and strong perspectives on the direction of your topic or industry.

Perfect for: Cutting-edge ideas, current and future state of your topic/industry

Industry experts

Similar to thought leaders, industry experts have both breadth and depth of knowledge thanks to years of field experience. Tap their knowledge to educate your audience through breakout sessions, training, and panels.

Perfect for: Education, training, workshops


These folks may not have decades of experience like the previous two, but they make up for it with fresh perspectives or unique insights on a new topic. Hiring an up-and-comer can be a cost-effective way to boost new voices and increase diversity of thought at your event.

Perfect for: Tight budget, niche topics

Tips for pitching your event to potential speakers

Now that you’ve done your research and identified prospective speakers, how do you make sure you get the ones you want for your next event?

Follow these best practices for an effective pitching process:

  • Set your budget for speaker fees. If a potential speaker is out of your price range, it’s better to know sooner than later so no one wastes their time.
  • Create professional event collateral. A simple one-pager outlining who your event is for and the topics you’ll cover should do the trick.
  • Showcase past event success metrics. Speakers want an idea of how many attendees they’ll be speaking to and how engaged they’ll be.
  • Cold calls or emails can work—if they’re highly personalized. Do your research and target speakers you truly think are a great fit. Then briefly explain why they should consider your speaking opportunity.

Pitching to event speakers is all about starting a conversation to determine whether you’re the right fit.

In the best case scenario, you land a great speaker who gives your audience an unforgettable experience and the speaker gets exposure to their target audience.

How much does an event speaker cost?

So, exactly how much will you have to pay for an excellent speaker?

An event speaker’s fees depend on many factors:

  • Location: If you expect the speaker to participate in person, their fees will be higher due to the cost of travel as well as the time and hassle of traveling. Hint: You can get around this one by hosting virtual or hybrid events.
  • Audience size: A larger crowd typically warrants a higher rate, especially if you’re selling high-ticket passes to your event.
  • Content: How much time will it take your speaker to prepare their content? Tailoring a hands-on workshop to your audience will often cost more than a more generic keynote.
  • Expertise: Experts at the top of their field charge more, full stop.

The cost of hiring a speaker can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. It all depends on your budget and the size of the splash you want to make.

6 steps to book a keynote speaker

Here’s a simple step-by-step breakdown to help you book your next speaker.

  1. Start your search early in the event planning process (~three months before the event)
  2. Nail down your event themes
  3. Research possible speakers and their past talks
  4. Pitch several potential speakers using the tips above
  5. Follow up, negotiate and sign an agreement
  6. Stay in contact leading up to the event

Remember that the speaker’s experience with your brand starts the minute you send the pitch—keeping it organized and professional is key. Which brings us to…

Why a top-notch speaker experience is crucial

A seamless speaker experience is important for both the event you're planning now and any future events. If your event is a train wreck behind the scenes, your guest speaker won’t be willing to return, and word could get out to others within their sphere.

If you want to continue enticing most inspirational speakers out there to attend your events, pay special attention to the speaker experience.

Look for an event platform with functionality that makes your speaker’s experience efficient and smooth, such as personalized links that take the speaker straight to the event and speaker controls with options to add, manage, hide and remove speakers as needed.

We designed the Goldcast experience to be seamless for speakers, event organizers, and attendees. To see how Goldcast can help you nail the speaker experience, request a personalized demo today.

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