I have been a professional motivational speaker now for over almost 15 years. In that time, I have delivered hundreds of presentations to an audience of over 400,000 people in 15 different countries.
And while speaking at conferences and events is my full-time job, for others it can be something that they might do only once, or infrequently.
And if you are looking to hold a conference or event soon, you might also be wondering what kind of speaker is best to carry your message and engage your audience during that event. Not all speakers are equal, and not all of us will be right for you. You might need a speaker to motivate, or inspire your audience, You might be need a speaker to train your audience or facilitate a panel or workshop during your conference.
In choosing a professional speaker for your event or conference, one size doesn’t fit all. So in this article, I outline the 12 different types of professional speakers for you to choose from when designing your ideal conference or event.
The Motivational Speaker.
I am a motivational speaker. I actually kind of think that all professional speakers are motivational speakers if they are doing their job right, but that’s certainly how I market myself as a speaker for conferences and events. You want the motivational speaker to, obviously, do just that. Motivate your audience to make a change, or even accept a change that is happening to them or their industry. You want them to engage the audience in a way that leaves them all inspired and charged up when they leave your conference. And you obviously want them to make a huge impact, and then leave a big impression on your audience.
To make choosing a motivational speaker for your event or conference easier, I wrote a blog post listing the 20 best motivational or inspirational speakers in Australia for 2020. You can check it out here.
The Professional Speaker.
The professional speaker is more of a generalist or an all-rounder. They can deliver presentations and tailor their addresses around a particular theme or piece of content or bunch of data that you provide them. They are very good at presenting as opposed to motivating or inspiring.
The Keynote Speaker.
This speaker specialises in the 45 minute to 60 minute presentation on stage about their particular specialist topic or area of interest. They are most often used to open or close a conference, and may sometimes be the only professional speaker at the event, with the other speakers being people who work for the company who is hosting the event. They might also fit into sub-categories of speakers: motivational speakers, educational speakers, celebrity speakers and so on.
The Workshop Facilitator.
These speakers tend to work in smaller, breakout sessions rather than one big plenary session with the whole audience in attendance. The facilitator might be called upon to help lead a team through a new learning platform for instance, or personnel changes, or a changing industry or marketplace. This tends to be a very specialised area of speaking, and these speakers’ talents lie in being able to adapt and change to different content and industries seamlessly.
Similar to the workshop facilitator, these speakers work with smaller groups mostly, and might deliver a day or multiple-day program in a workplace for example, before moving on to another workplace and taking a different team through the same content. They tend to be ex-teachers or people with learning backgrounds who can hold the attention of a smaller group for an extended time.
My Speaking Showreel.
As the name suggests, these speakers are included in a program for the sole purpose of entertaining the audience. They can be after-dinner speakers, or might be inserted into a conference agenda after lunch or in a time when the audience’s attention might be waning a bit. They can be comedians, or stage performers, or just great storytellers.
The Celebrity Speaker.
These speakers tend to have been professional sportspeople, or actors, or people who have in some other way gained notoriety, and then tend to present by referring to that notoriety and sometimes sharing some behind-the-scenes kind of information for the audience. When used sparingly, these speakers can be a great asset to break up some heavier or even boring content that you need to give to a corporate audience during a day.
The Expert Speaker.
The Expert Speaker tends to be an academic person who, quite often, presents academic papers or data or studies to your audience. Think of them as similar to an expert witness in a court trial. Their value isn’t necessarily in how funny or witty or engaging they are (although that obviously helps a lot) but more in their expertise and knowledge around the particular topic they are speaking about.
The Sponsor Speaker.
If you have corporate sponsors for your conference or event, often that sponsor will want one of their own people to present one of the sessions during the conference agenda. This can be a problem for a couple of reasons: they might just try to sell from the stage, even if the product they are selling has nothing to do with the theme or the conference or the audience in front of them, or secondly – because they are mostly not professional speakers being asked to do this – they might be terrible. Beware the sponsor speaker, they could ruin all the other good work you have done in putting your conference together in one short, awkward, 20 minute session.
This might sound weird coming from a professional speaker, but I think the most important part of the conference isn’t the speakers, it’s the MC.
You could have the most talented lineup of speakers ever, and they could all kill it while they are on stage, but if the intros and outros between these speakers is lacking, the audience will come away thinking they – and the event – was lacking too.
A great MC is vital if you want your event to be great. Often, I speak at events where the MD or CEO is tasked with MC’ing the event, and while some of them are really great at it, some of them are definitely much better at being MD’s and CEO’s.
Some of the work I do at events is not only being a motivational speaker, but MC’ing the whole event too, and I can tell you it’s not an easy job, and it’s a skill that not everyone readily has.
The Online Event or Zoom Specialist Speaker.
And then finally, the professional speaker who is skilled and experienced at presenting their content online or in a remote setting by either LiveStream or on Zoom for instance, is one that will be booked in increasing numbers now, especially as the world recovers from the global pandemic that has put offline events as we knew them on hold.
Being able to present effectively on a video-conference platform is a skill that not all speakers currently have. But with all markers pointing towards an event landscape in the future being either a hybrid or online and offline presentations, or at least a big increase in 100% online and remote conferences, it’s a skill that every speaker is going to need going forward.
If you would like to see if I am a good fit for your conference, either in my role as motivational speaker or conference MC, please contact my agent Carson White, on 0499 811 817 (from inside Australia) or +61 409 811 817 (if calling from outside of Australia).
Otherwise you can check out my speaking page here, if you are an event planner I have a special page just for you, you can download my speaker brochure here, and if you want to check my availability of have an obligation-free chat, you can fill out this form too.