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Hiring a Keynote? Expert Event Production Tips

December 27, 2017 // Insights

by Heidi Foels

Conference and event planners hire keynote speakers for a variety of different reasons. A company may be feeling lost with its executive’s ability to deliver a strong message, executives might not prefer to be in the limelight, or a company’s annual conference may need a new level of excitement. So how do you go about choosing and managing the right speaker for your event?


Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your event is not as easy as it looks. There are thousands of topics to consider. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Is there an all-encompassing theme to the conference? The best way to begin your search is by diving deeper into the overall message of the conference.
  • What is the goal of the speech or message? Are you trying to motivate, inspire or educate the attendees?
  • Will the speaker take a “big picture” approach to the speech? Or do you prefer the speaker to have expertise in just one key area?
  • What is your organization’s budget for a speaker?

Taking these into account when choosing a speaker will ensure your event aligns with your company’s values and goals.


Depending on the speaker, he or she may require additional steps with the agreement, such as special equipment requests above and beyond the scope of the existing conference, or excess financial demands.
The best way to wrap your head around their needs and requirements is to request a rider. A rider is a document that details a speaker’s needs for travel, food and beverage, A/V equipment, room details, and more. Rider requests are in addition to a speaker’s keynote fee, so keep this in mind when hiring on a tight budget.

Prior to the event or conference, you’ll also need to set up conference calls between teams and the speaker’s agent, handle logistics with the venue, book travel accommodations, create personalized schedules and scripts and manage rehearsal needs and timing. Your main focus should be to ensure the keynote topic aligns with the conference theme and objectives and that the speaker stays on message throughout the keynote.

If you are working with an event production company, it’s best to include them in these conversations, as they will be able to assist in meeting any extra requests from speakers.

Onsite management

Once these planning steps are complete, it’s time to execute the event. Your onsite team will be a great asset to ensure your speaker stays on message and knows their schedule. This is not the time to let things slip. Communicate expectations and determine an onsite plan with your team. An event production company like metroConnections can certainly take this burden off you as they will understand all of the “little things” that tend to pop up onsite, and can help eliminate headaches throughout the event.

From brainstorming your theme to finding your perfect speaker and managing every detail of your content plan and onsite details, we hope your keynote plan goes off without a hitch. And, if you think you might need some help with some or all of the job, give us a call at 1-800-747-8687 and we’ll be happy to help you walk through the process.

Tips for a Smooth Keynote

Questions to ask yourself when coordinating your speaker’s arrival:

  • What team member is tracking the flight?
  • How is the speaker getting to the venue? Cab, limo, airport shuttle?
  • What is the weather? Will they need an umbrella?

 Your speaker arrives. What’s next?

  • Who’s greeting them and where? What documents should be provided at arrival (conference agenda, map, name badge, etc.)?
  • Provide tour of venue (all spaces that apply: ballroom, greenroom, bathroom, etc.)
  • Brief on rehearsal and show times
  • Review meals and location
  • Introduce speaker to the event production company

 The speaker has all the information and is ready to rehearse/speak:

  • Meet and greet with the event production company
  • Set up content and stage needs. Pending status, your time with the speaker may be limited – it is very rare they’ll run through their presentation in full. At minimum, be sure they are tested with a microphone and their content is as expected.
  • Once rehearsal is complete, what’s the agenda? Do they have time to walk away, if so, when do they need to be back and whom do they report to?
  • Be sure there is a plan for pre-stage arrival and that time has been allotted to get mic’d up, etc.

Heidi Foels has been with metroConnections since 2013. Since being hired as a Production Coordinator in the Production Service division, Foels has been promoted and is now serving as Producer. In her role, she engages in several facets of the business and manages clients, executes corporate events and performs detailed project management. Heidi graduated from St. Cloud State University and holds a degree in Marketing.

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