Whether you are looking to inspire an audience, motivate employees or address a graduating class, hiring a public speaker is the perfect way to encourage and engage any audience. Hiring a public speaker is a great idea for everything from a corporate retreat to college orientation. There are many types of public speakers and typically each one will have their own distinct style and message. With such a wide range of talented individuals to choose from, finding the right person to connect with your guests can sometimes be a bit challenging.

That's why we have put together some helpful tips from a few of our top public speakers to guide you through the searching, hiring and planning process of booking a quality public speaker.

1. Have a good idea of what role this speaker plays in your event.
"Is it to bring people in from the community? Is it to teach your staff? Is it to empower women at a health conference? Is it an after-dinner speaker for a chamber event? Some people think it's only about the information delivered - when sometimes the information should be the last thing they worry about. If you have a good idea of what you want your speaker to talk about - how they should make your audience think and feel - then it will be easier to choose the right speaker. And never underestimate the value of your speaker. The success of an event can hinge on whether the audience liked the speaker." - Kelly Swanson Motivational Speaker (High Point, North Carolina)

2. Ask questions to get a sense of the speakers experience and expertise.
Public Speaker Sharon Lacey (Portland, Oregon) suggests the following questions: How much experience does the public speaker have? Does the speaker have any video clips in their profile from past engagements? Does the speaker have references and positive feedback available from former clients? Is the speaker's material suitable for the age-group/demographic of our audience? Can the speaker tailor their material to include points specifically pertaining to your group? Keynote Speaker Dr. Paul Marciano (Three Bridges, New Jersey) advises, "Be certain to check only their corporate references when seeking a reference. Only references with legitimate websites with past events listing the speakers should be considered worthy of checking on the phone - no email, and should be the top #1 priority. All other references on the speakers proposal should be considered, "n/a"."

3. Talk to the speaker before booking.
Celebrity speaker Todd Newton (New York, New York) says, "I always request to have a conference call with the people in charge of the event.  It makes everyone more comfortable to have an opportunity to get to know each other beforehand...albeit over the phone.  We want to be the best we can be for you and in order for that to happen we must be the right fit for your event.  Just as you would do your homework before buying a new car, so should you do your homework before booking a speaker.  Take your time. Taking the time to find a speaker that matches the environment can make all the difference!"

4. Discuss the event and expectations in detail.
"The client should ask what the speaker requires in regards to equipment, media, sound etc. Also, it is imperative that the speaker and the client have a mutual plan as to what will be covered in the speech or seminar, the length of the seminar or speech, and all topics to be discussed." - Motivational Speaker Achieve Your Dreams Bob Teague (Huntington, West Virginia)

5. When it is time to book, make sure you have an entertainment contract that outlines all specifics.
"An entertainment contract should include travel and lodging arrangements, any and all equipment requirements, price for the engagement, explicit event details, and a deposit if required. The contract should be as complete as possible so that both parties have a mutual understanding of the performance." - Motivational Speaker Achieve Your Dreams Bob Teague (Huntington, West Virginia) Keynote speaker Mike Pierron (Novi, Michigan) really sums up what you need to know about hiring a public speaker, "A great connection or fit to your group is VITAL. The #1 thing to look for is a speaker who connects well with your target audience! How to ensure this....Ask a lot of questions!"

Remember, if you need help finding a public speaker, you can reach our Account Specialists by calling us at 866-342-9794 or email info@gigmasters.com. Are you a public speaker that wants to book more gigs? Sign up with GigMasters today.

What other tips do you have for hiring a public speaker for an event?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.