Questions to Ask When Hiring a Leadership Keynote Speaker

Do you want a list of the best questions to ask when hiring a leadership keynote speaker? Then you came to right place. As a leadership keynote speaker myself, who has also hired speakers and planned events, I understand the critical role a leadership keynote speaker plays in making your event a success – and making you look good! Furthermore, as a longtime member of The National Speakers Association, I’m familiar with what separates the best speakers from the rest. Here are dozens of the best questions to ask when hiring a leadership keynote speaker, to ensure you get the best…

The National Speakers Association logo in vector format. The image is of three large letters: N,S, and A. Twisting around the letter S is a large microphone and wired. Underneath the three letters is the text NATIONAL SPEAKERS ASSOCIATION.

Key Points:

  1. Hire experts but ensure they are humble, helpful, and flexible
  2. Consider the interview process similar to hiring an employee
  3. How you ask the questions matters
  4. Get the best questions below

Event planners need to hire the perfect speaker. The pressure is on!

 Here are the best questions to ask when hiring a leadership keynote speaker.

Industry Experience Questions

1. Do you have experience applying what you teach in the workplace?

2. Have you worked in our specific field / industry?

3. Have you spoken to audiences similar to our industry?

4. How do you stay on top of new and emerging trends in the industry?


Speaking Experience Questions

1. How long have you been speaking?

2. Do you have video samples of your talks – especially any clips relevant to this specific topic?

3. How do you measure success of each talk?

4. How do you stay on top of new and emerging trends in the speaking and events industry?


Credential Questions

1. What professional speaking credentials do you have?

2. What other credentials do you have?

  • Do you have an MBA, Masters Degree, or relevant technical certifications?

3. Do you have a published book?

  • If yes, will you provide free copies or sell copies after the talk?

4. Do you have a blog or other publications?

  • If yes, will you use the publications to promote our event?

5. Who owns the content after the event?

  • For example: may any recording of the talk be used or shared by our organization?


The eSpeakers Certified Virtual Speaker and Presenter badge. This is a hexagonal shape with blue and white background. Inside the shape are the words CERTIFIED VIRTUAL PRESENTER
The eSpeakers Virtual Presenter Badge is one example of a great professional credential.

Delivery Questions

1. How do you describe your delivery style?

  • Serious?
  • Funny?
  • Engaging?
  • Exciting?
  • Something else?

2. What media formats do you use in your delivery?

  • Image slides?
  • Text slides?
  • Videos?
  • Audio clips? 
  • Physical props?

3. If your presentation was rated like a movie, what rating would it receive (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC17, or in Europe U, PG, 12-A, 15, 18…)?

4. Do you prefer to stand at a podium, walk the stage, or  walk out among the audience?

5. How do you ensure consideration of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEI&A) matters in your presentations?

6. What do you usually wear when you speak and will you customize it for our audience?

7. In the case of a technical meltdown, are you able to deliver your presentation without slides or a confidence monitor?

8. How would you describe the ideal audience?

9. How would you describe the least ideal audience?

10. Can you describe your virtual presentation tools, technology, studio, and comfort level?


Flexibility Questions

1. Do your fees include only the talk or participation in the event for the full day?

2. Are you willing to also engage in a breakout session, executive luncheon, Q&A, panel discussion, or similar additional activities?

3. In the case of unforeseen circumstances, can you quickly shift from in person to a virtual presentation?


Customization Questions

1. How do you customize your presentation to each audience?

2. Do you customize materials (handouts, web links, slides) to each audience?

3. How do you familiarize yourself with client industries and audiences ahead of the event?

4. How do you engage with the audience immediately after the talk, while still at the event?

5. How do you engage with attendees after the event is over?

6. Do you offer virtual sessions with attendees before or after the event?


Engagement Questions

1. How do you engage the audience during your talk? 

2. Does your audience engagement vary based on audience size?

3. What will be the takeaways for our attendees?

4. Have you ever encountered a difficult audience member and how did you handle the situation?

5. How do you engage attendees differently when online / virtual vs. in person or live?


How to Ask Your Questions

When asking these questions, remember to request examples. If you’ve hired employees before, the process is similar. Your prospective employee or speaker should come prepared with excellent answers. Ensuring the very best for your organization or event means expecting details and specific examples. For example, instead of asking simply, “Have you spoken to an audience of this size before?” Try asking, “Can you tell me of a time or two when you spoke to an audience of this size before? How did it go? Did you do anything different than when preparing for smaller audiences?”


What to Look For

Every event is different. However, I find most people in your shoes like speakers who are very engaging, yet humble, flexible, easy to work with, and aligned with your mission, vision, and values. Naturally, expertise and experience are important. So finding speakers who have worked in the trenches and applied what they teach helps them relate better to attendees. When choosing your speaker, don’t look only at the facts, but also their personality. Are they the type of keynote speaker who not only impresses you and your attendees but is also personable, engaging, and fun to work with? 

Consider Ben Lichtenwalner

If you’re looking for a fantastic speaker, consider leadership keynote speaker, and Modern Servant Leader founder, Ben Lichtenwalner. You can learn about Ben’s professional speaking services or schedule a chat with him to explore your needs.

Leadership keynote speaker and Modern Servant Leader founder, Ben Lichtenwalner, speaks at a TEDx event. He wears a light grey suit jacket and a black button down shirt. He smiles brightly as he looks at the audience and gestures with his left hand. In the bottom corner are the National Speakers Association and eSpeakers Certified Virtual Speaker logos.

QUESTION: What would you add to this list?

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