How to find a speaker for a leadership retreat

Blaire Palmer
Apr 18, 2019 · 2 min read

You’ve got your company offsite coming up and you’d like to find an external speaker to add to the agenda. What do you need to do now?

  1. Ask yourself why you want an external speaker? The best reason to bring in someone from the outside is to get a new perspective on a topic that’s already important to your attendees. A great speaker will challenge your view of the world and throw new ideas in to the brains of the people at your leadership retreat. Bringing in a speaker purely for entertainment purposes does have value — a great comedian or racoteur can make people feel valued and create a memorable day. But keep in mind the long tail impact of your leadership retreat — what do you want people to DO differently after the event and what kind of speaker is going to activate people to act differently?
  2. Get clear on the theme of your event. Asking the question “How do I find a speaker for our leadership retreat?” isn’t actually the best question to ask! Instead, ask “What difference do we want this retreat to make in our business?”. In a month or 6 months, what do you want the legacy of the event to be? This will help you focus on a theme for the retreat. Remember that people can only remember a few highlights from an event like this so trying to cover 20 different topics is ineffective. Choose one theme and stay focused on that.
  3. Approach a speaker bureau. Not only will you save a lot of time but the bureau will help you refine your ideas about what kind of speaker to hire. There are literally thousands of people who claim to be able to speak. In order to be represented by a bureau speakers need to prove their credibility, they go through a selection process and they are only retained on the books if they delight clients every time. If you approach a speaker like me direct (and feel free to do that!) we will normally connect you up with one of our agents when it comes to negotiating fees and organising logistics. A speaker bureau is set up to do this and the value they add is worth it for all parties.
  4. Make a decision earlier rather than later about which of the speakers you’ve been offered is going to be right for you. This will ensure your event hangs together and makes sense to the audience. As you tweak the agenda you’ll already have this ‘set piece’ around which the rest of the agenda revolves. Waiting until the last minute can mean your agenda doesn’t quite make sense and that the ONLY part people remember is the keynote. Not good for your internal speakers!

To find out more about how to find a speaker for your leadership retreat, contact me via my website and I will hook you up with the right speaker bureau for your event.

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