How to Interview Motivational Keynote Speakers?

keynote speakersOnce you create a shortlist of keynote speakers, you need to interview each one systematically. This article will give you a comprehensive list of questions to ask potential keynote speakers.

Have you ever wondered why companies interview candidates before they hire them? It's not about shattering confidence and discussing payrolls. That comes later. The point of conducting interviews is to clear up any doubts you have about prior experience. 

Even educational institutes, colleges, and universities conduct interviews before they admit students. Not because they want to see if the students are worthy enough, but because they want to make sure that the students have an interest in the field they have applied.

A typical step skipped when you shortlist keynote speakers is a list of questions to ask them.

The answer will reveal how much command a person has over a specific industry and how well they can perform. It's essential you ask all potential keynote speakers the same questions, so you have a guided system. Otherwise, your approach is based on a hunch, not well-researched results.

You have to ask a few questions before you hire a funny keynote speaker!  It would help if you had a clear idea about the budget, how well they perform, what instruments they will use, and so on. 

Let's take a look at some of the fundamental questions you should ask before you confirm the keynote speaker for your event. 


Okay, you have to make sure that the keynote speakers fit your budget. But here's the thing, everything good comes with a price.  If you chose keynote speakers in lower demand, remember they aren't busy for a reason. So first, ensure that the speaker falls under your budget. If they are priced out of your market and not able to negotiate, you have to move on.

Does the speaker's fee level match their experience? Look at how long they have been a keynote speaker and the types of audiences they have experience with.

I like it when event planners tell me their budget, and I can see if I can work within it. Be wary when you ask a keynote speaker what their fee is, and they aren't willing to tell you until you tell them your budget. It means their fee is negotiable. Now it's a balancing act to quote them the right amount. To negotiate with a keynote speaker, first, find out if they are available, next ask them their fee and if there is any negotiation room.

Remember, many keynote speakers require a deposit to hold a date.

Other questions relevant to the fee are:

Do they work through a speakers bureau ( who take upwards of 30% of the fee)?

Do they fly first class or business?

Will they need more than one night's accommodation?

Can you negotiate with them to present a keynote and a break out session? It will save on the rest of your speaker budget.

Does the keynote speaker book their travel?


Most keynote speakers will fit within your agenda. However, make sure the amount of time you have set aside is the ideal amount for their speech.

The idea of hiring a keynote speaker is to provide a comprehensive guide for your audience and also to entertain and engage.  A keynote speech should neither be too short or too long. Balance is key!

Does the keynote speaker guarantee they will end on time?

Will the keynote speaker be able to fill extra time if necessary?


It is also vital that you know about the supportive learning materials that the keynote speaker would be using. Keeping the audience busy is one of the essential points throughout the presentation. You don't want to bore your audience, so you need to be sure that they have the right learning tools to keep your audience engaged!

Does the speaker have handouts? If so, will they bring them, or does the event provide them? Can you post them digitally?

What follow up materials do they provide?

Does the keynote speaker have books, CDs, or other materials? How do they handle sales?


You are not hiring the keynote speaker for no reason, so be clear on what the audience will take away from the speech.

The idea is to make sure that the audience not only has fun and stays engaged, but they learn something new. Double-check the objectives and learning points!

Does the speaker have any code of ethics regarding content?

Are there any Copywrite issues?

How does the keynote speaker prepare for a speaking engagement?

What type of educational activities or methods does the speaker use to get their point across?

Does the keynote speaker have a well-organized message?

How much tech does the speaker use?


The ultimate cliché! It is essential that you have someone who has had prior experience in your industry. It will eliminate the fear of the speech being too generic for the audience, and you will relax! It is crucial that you hire someone who has a command and knowledge of the relevant industry.  

Is a keynote speech a canned routine performance, or will it be catered to your audience?

Does the speaker provide a written guarantee?

What kind of audience research does the speaker do?

What sort of help will they need to deliver a great speech?



Let's not forget that you should ask for previous speech references. It will help you gain a better insight into the style and substance of the keynote speaker. It would help if you also asked for several demo videos samples. You want to see them speaking in front of an audience and make sure that it draws their attention towards the event!

There you go, a few questions you should be asking before you hire a keynote speaker. Asking the right questions is extremely important, I hope you know that and don't shy from asking them!


Is the speaker easy to work with? Or extremely inflexible and challenging?

WIll the speaker spend time with people at the event ( or fly in, speak and fly out)?

How motivating, funny, or entertaining is the keynote speaker?

Do the speaker's topics, speaking style, and content match the needs of your audience?

Is the speaker serving the audience or just showing off? ( watch videos and ask previous references)

Does the speaker use clean humor?

Armed with these questions you can be sure you have a systematic approach to hire a keynote speaker. 


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