Many event professionals begin their keynote search from a category perspective. In other words, first select your topic or style – motivational speakers, leadership speakers, industry experts, sports speakers, diversity and inclusion speakers, etc. – and then narrow down the list to speakers who are available and fit your budget.
But the problem is that none of those topics or styles give you an indication about whether a speaker is any good. Indeed, a big part of your search inevitably involves watching a lot of video or looking for the right messages that fit your event’s theme or approach for that year.
The question is: Do you know what you’re looking for when you watch that video? Outside of your personal biases or inclinations when you view a speaker’s presentation, could you qualify in any terms what makes that speaker ‘good’?
What Makes a Speaker ‘Good’
Certainly, one way to gauge quality is to analyze a speaker’s energy and tone – after all, an entertaining presentation is always better than a dry one. But if that’s all the speaker excels at -- and the content proves to be somewhat empty -- that also leaves your attendees walking away with little in terms of value. Another popular way is to analyze how good a speaker will be is to look at practical value – can the audience walk away with tips or advice that helps them improve what they’re doing today? Yet, similarly, a presentation can be both boring and practical at the same time.
Use a ‘Social Currency’ Lens
So, what else can you look at? One other way to discern ‘good’ is to view those speakers through a little-known marketing lens called social currency. “What is that?” you might ask.
From a strict definition, social currency is information that you pass on that makes you seem smarter, funnier, or generally more interesting. In other words, what we share to look good in front of others. From a marketing standpoint, social currency has been used for years to associate various brands as the place where customers gain that social currency, whether it’s in the form of funny jokes or gags they pass on, or the thought leadership that brands provide that gets repeated by customers.
How does that translate into speaking? One way to consider if a speaker is ‘good’ is to analyze what they present in terms of that social currency. Is something they said so interesting that it’s worth repeating by you so that you sound smarter, funnier or cooler? Is it novel, creative or otherwise something people haven’t heard before so when you pass it on to others, you seem creative as well?
And, it’s not just what the speakers say either. Do they allow for pictures at the event for at least some of the audience? (So, people can post photos of, or even with, the speaker.) Will the speaker attend an after-hours meeting with special clients or audiences who will continue to talk about the experience afterwards? (The latter is not typical – as post-event activities can get hard with security issues or scheduling for some speakers -- but there are those who might be game for more personal interaction, depending on the circumstances.)
In conclusion, social currency is probably one more thing to consider as you think about the perfect speaker for your event. In the end, you can never go wrong when you get a speaker that provides that kind of pass-it-on type of influence. And the best part – when the attendees pass on that wisdom or that funny joke to their friends to seem cool, internally they’ll always associate it with the speaker you hosted and the event you put on.
When it comes to social currency, Washington Speakers Bureau has a lineup of thought leaders, entertainers, and others whose wit and wisdom, as well as their presentation experience, will be talked about for decades to come.
Meet some of WSB's Social Currency speakers below, and contact us to learn more about the availability:
This post was compiled by WSB's team of writers.