Michael Jackson – internationally renowned professional speaker, master of ceremonies, writer and specialist – on how to choose the right speaker for next event.

What five things should an event planner consider when booking a speaker?

  1. WELL KNOWN Choose a speaker with a good reputation and a proven track record
  2. PROFESSIONAL The speaker’s professionalism should reflect on their introductory documentation
  3. TYPE OF SPEAKER The type/theme of your event should dictate the type of speaker you need. Does your event need a business to business, business to consumer, motivational, inspirational or icon speaker?
  4. CONTENT The speaker’s content must be personalised to suit the theme/style and nature of the event as well as the audience
  5. COMMITMENT Is the speaker willing to attend the briefing and post evaluation of the event sessions as well as add extra value to the event?

What are the most important things that an event planner should tell a speaker?
The who, what, why, where and how of the event and most importantly: what do you want the audience to walk away thinking, feeling and doing?

What is the role of a speaker at an event?
That depends on the type of event you are having and what you want the speaker to do. There is the authority figure speaker who will talk on a certain industry related topic; the motivational speaker who will inspire delegates to achieve greatness; the inspirational speaker who will share a personal story of how s/he overcame an obstacle and finally the icon speaker who has truly done something outstanding  – think Mark Shuttleworth or Sir Richard Branson.

What about the celebrity speaker?
Just because you are a celebrity, doesn’t mean you have the gift of speech.  A celebrity is not necessary an icon, and as an event planner, you need to decide what the celebrity will do for your event and how much you are prepared to pay.

What can an event planner expect to pay for a speaker?

  • Toastmaster level: R5 000 to R10 000
  • A competent journeyman (Speaker has good knowledge of their subject but falls short of being defined as a known expert):  R10 000 to R20 000
  • Expert level: R20 000 to R40 000
  • Iconic level: R40 000 +

The above excludes VAT, travel, accommodation and transfers.

Traditionally speakers have been a firm favourite as entertainment for events and here’s why:

  • THEY ARE A CROWD PULLER A well-known speaker draws crowds and gives credibility to the event as delegates will associate the event with the speaker.  The great thing about this is that even before your event starts, you have a room filled with people wanting to listen.
  • THEY ENTERTAIN YOU Great speakers will make your audience laugh, keep them on their toes and ensure that they enjoy everything the event has to offer.
  • THEY DRIVE HOME A POINT Successful events have themes. The keynote speaker will ensure that delegates not only understand the theme but buy into it. This can be done by inspiring and connecting with the audience.

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