How to arrange guest speakers for my event

Event planners and organizers know how crucial guest speakers are for events. Without them, events can devolve into little more than lifeless gatherings! Guest speakers can determine the success or failure of an event, so finding the ideal one becomes a crucial task from the beginning to the end of your event planning process. 

Do you want your next event to strike the right chord with your guests? If so, you must be ready to embrace the challenges of finding the ideal guest speaker, arranging travel and accommodation, managing session availability, settling payments, and more. 

To help you rise to the occasion, here’s a comprehensive guide on arranging guest speakers for events. 

Consider what makes a great guest speaker 

The first task to complete under your event speaker-arranging checklist is to choose the right guest speaker. And the “right” guest speaker isn’t just someone with a big name or an attractive look. You need to know what kind of person or knowledge and experience your guests will want in order to find the right one! 

When choosing a guest speaker, consider the following: 

  • The event’s tone 
  • Your audience’s needs 
  • The knowledge of the potential speakers 
  • Diversity 

Not all events need the same type of guest speaker. So, depending on the event’s nature and tone, you must choose speakers that match your expectations. Moreover, prioritizing diversity in the list of speakers is essential for creating a successful event. 

56% of event planners have diverse goals because they understand the importance of creating a safe and inclusive environment for all attendees. The more diverse the speakers, the deeper you can go into the topics, and the more significant impact your event may have. 

It’s also important to determine what makes a guest speaker great, for instance: 

  • Credentials 
  • Experience 
  • Industry profile 
  • Excellent speaking ability 

Remember, the average audience attention span is only eight to ten minutes. A guest speaker must have the leadership, humor, authenticity, and confidence to engage the audience for the duration of their session. 

Decide on how they’ll contribute to event goals 

A guest speaker isn’t just there to fill up a spot in the program — they should be able to add value to the event and help you achieve your goals. Go back to your event goals and answer the following questions: 

  • Who is your audience? 
  • What is the guest speaker’s purpose? 
  • What type of engagement does your event need? 

If you’re planning a specific business event, you need guest speakers for conferences who can provide valuable industry information.  

On the other hand, if you’re arranging a charity fundraiser, you need someone who can tug at the heartstrings of the attendees and encourage them to donate. 

Know your budget 

Another task is setting the budget for arranging speakers for events. It’s easy to get carried away while looking for amazing guest speakers, but knowing your limitations is crucial. When setting or adjusting your budget, take the following into account: 

  • The speaker’s rate 
  • Travel expenses 
  • Accommodation costs 
  • Food and beverage costs 
  • Miscellaneous charges 

How much should you pay for a guest speaker? It depends. You can look at factors that guest speakers consider when determining their rates: 

  • The number and type of attendees 
  • Location 
  • Event type 

Beginner guest speakers may say yes for free while trying to build their careers. A speaker with little experience might charge $500-$2,500, and established personalities can charge upwards of $10,000. Guest speakers with social proof that they can make a difference at an event come with even higher rates. The best way to know is to ask the guest speaker directly. 

Take note that these rates exclude the expenses for travel and accommodation. The budget for finding event speakers and booking them must be realistic. 

Explore your options and conduct the search 

Once you have an image of your ideal guest speaker and a budget, you can start doing your research. Building your list of potential speakers begins with knowing where to look. 

  1. Referrals

Get recommendations from people you trust. Ask other event planners and industry leaders whom they’ve worked with in the past. 

  1. Similar events

Research similar events held in the past. Who were the guest speakers? How did the audience respond to them? What topics were covered?   

  1. Industry organizations

It’s also ideal to investigate industry organizations for speakers. Professional associations, forums, and trade publications are all great options. 

  1. TED Talks

TED Talks are one of the most popular platforms for speakers. You can use this venue to find inspiring stories, interesting topics, and passionate people willing to share their knowledge. 

  1. Your Personal Experience

Pay attention to people you’ve encountered during your personal life, such as university and college professors and public speakers. 

  1. Social media

Social media platforms are a great resource to find speakers. You’ll be able to check out their profiles, see what their following is like, and view their past work. 

  1. Agencies

Lastly, you can also approach an agency to find the right person for your event. These businesses are experts at finding great guest speakers and arranging their schedules according to your requirements. 

Reach out through profession networks 

Trusting agencies to find guest speakers is an easy way to ensure you get the speakers for your event. But, if you’re aiming for long-term relationships, you must learn how to build and reach out through professional networks. 

This tip may not work if it’s your first event, but you can easily contact and approach guest speakers if you have a few events under your belt. Professional networks bring you to different industries and people who can provide you with more insight into future events. 

The more you learn about an industry, the easier it is to find the best guest speakers. 

Cold call if you must 

Cold-calling potential guest speakers is the way to go for event planners who have yet to build professional networks. However, this method takes more effort than using your existing contacts. Think of it as a sales call and target the speakers you think would be great for your event. 

Reach out to them through email and social media. The challenge is to provide value right away. Explain the type of audience and how their participation would benefit them. It’s also ideal to spark curiosity in your initial message. Make your potential guest speakers feel excited to join your event! 

Give them a reason to come 

Once there’s a spark of interest, it’s time to give your potential guest speakers a reason to say yes. Before you even start reaching out to people, you must already have a plan. Not every person you contact will be available on the day of your event, so it pays to have a few backups. 

Always go back to your event theme to know what speakers you need. And remember to give your guest speakers the freedom to express their own thoughts. After all, they’re the star of your event! 

The highlight of this task is offering incentives. Most people are willing to participate, provided they’re incentivized to do so. However, it’s not just money that guest speakers are looking for. For some, it’s about being part of something bigger than themselves. What can you offer to make them want to be part of your event? 

Moreover, it’s good to provide pertinent details to your ideal guest speaker. Include the budget, duration, and what you expect from them. Offer support, such as transportation and accommodation, and have a clear promotional plan. The more effort you put into arranging and supporting your guest speakers, the higher your chances of success. 

Manage the logistics of their travel 

The next part of managing speakers for events is probably the most challenging. You must ensure that your guest speakers are well taken care of, from arranging their flights and hotel accommodations to arranging their transportation to and from the event. This step is crucial because it gives the guest speaker peace of mind and shows them how professional you are. 

 Also consider the guest speakers’ schedule. You don’t want them waiting for hours or feeling rushed to get from one place to another. Have a plan and ensure they’re aware of it as soon as they confirm their participation. Some of the questions you should answer that could help you manage the logistics of their travel include the following: 

  • How long will their session be on the event day? 
  • Where will the event happen? 
  • How early before the session begins can the speaker access the room to set up or practice the AV technology? 
  • What else does the guest speaker need for their session? 

The answers determine everything you need to arrange for them. Again, always keep your budget in mind. 

Understand how they want to be promoted 

Another challenge to overcome when arranging guest speakers for events is promotion. When you’re 100% settled on their participation, ensure they’re properly promoted. You’ve already gone through the effort of arranging guest speakers, so you want them to get the recognition and exposure they deserve. 

Start by finding out how your guest speakers want to be promoted. Do they have a website or social media accounts that you can link to in your promotional materials? Does the guest speaker prefer to be featured on a specific platform? 

These details may seem trivial, but they can make all the difference to the success of your event. Make sure to collaborate with the speaker and get as much information from them as possible. Leverage management tools and word-of-mouth to spread the word about your event and its speakers. 

Use social media and give potential attendees a clue about what they can expect to see and learn. This way, you can entice those interested in the topic to attend. And lastly, self-promotion is key. When your guest speaker knows people will hear their voice and their work will be recognized, it goes a long way. Maximize their impact by promoting them the right way and encourage them to promote your event in return. 

Communicate about their technical needs 

While arranging guest speakers for events, keep track of their technical needs. Communicate and find common ground for what they need and what you can provide. 

Depending on the type of event and speaker, there may be a need for audio-visual equipment. Find out what equipment the speaker will need, including any items they may bring. You must also confirm they know how to use the technology on site. A short briefing or tutorial may be in order. 

You can even go further and provide your guest speakers with a practice session. This way, they will feel more comfortable on the day of the event and know what to expect. 

These small details matter and are worth your careful attention. Will materials be printed or digital? Are there slides or other visuals that need to be prepared? And what will the setup of the room look like? 

Your guest speakers should have everything they need. Don’t leave them to their own devices; instead, provide them with ample support and guidance.   

Manage their notes and presentation 

Before the big day, managing your guest speaker’s notes and presentation is also integral. A management process will help you stay organized. It’s best to have everything you need in one place, allowing you to check in on any changes and quickly review the guest speaker’s presentation. 

Ask the guest speaker if they need help designing or creating any visuals used during their presentation. Review their notes and provide feedback if needed. If they’re using slides, optimize them for the event. Depending on your event and audience, you may need to adjust how their presentation looks in order for all attendees to get the most out of their experience. 

Remember the guest speaker’s freedom to make their presentation engaging. It’s vital to remain flexible. Ultimately, make it easy for the guest speaker to be their best.   

Manage payment and pay the invoice 

Lastly, arranging guest speakers for events isn’t complete until the payment process is done. Be clear about the speaker’s expectations and fees. Let them know what’s expected of them, i.e., the number of sessions, arrival time, preparations needed for the event, and so on. 

Also, keep track of the payment due date. Pay every invoice promptly. Small things like this are vital for arranging guest speakers for events. It helps ensure that speakers feel valued and appreciated for their work. 

The challenges of managing payment include arranging contracts and establishing multiple payment methods. Be mindful of key details, including: 

  • The guest speaker’s address 
  • Contact information 
  • Bank accounts 
  • Invoice for every payment (if necessary) 

The important thing is to be transparent about expectations and fees. You don’t want to overpay or underpay your guest speakers. Double-check your facts and be confident in how the payment process works. 

Using payment software is the best way to stay on top of your payment process. Tools like these will help you manage payments and generate invoices more efficiently. Doing so will save valuable time and money. 


Arranging speakers for events is just one part of the event planning process, and it can be a complex task. Attendee Interactive provides event planners with the tools and guidance to make arranging guest speakers for events easier.  

Contact us to learn more!

Stay on top of the latest and greatest. Sign up now.