Guest Speaker David Kwong next to a graphic of a check list
We have compiled this guide on how to host a guest speaker, to make sure there are no loose ends when working with a speaker.

How to Host a Guest Speaker | Expert Guide (Updated 2024)

Welcome to our step-by-step, all-inclusive guide on hosting a guest speaker for your event, including the difference between keynote speakers and guest speakers, and what typical guest speaker fees are

Guest speakers enhance events by telling engaging stories. In fact, scientific evidence shows that our brains respond positively to stories, and why stories are so effective in engaging and influencing people.

There are many types of guest speakers available for different kinds of events. For example, topics can include burnout prevention, diversity and inclusion, wellness, and leadership, to name just a few.

Ultimately, to make the process of hosting a guest speaker easier we have created this definitive guide.

All writing samples are free to use, but please link back to this article if they are re-published. 

We will also drill down into specific situations such as negotiating celebrity guest speaker fees and the process of writing introductions for guest speakers. 

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Guest Speaker Vs. Keynote Speaker

Firstly, consider whether a guest speaker or a keynote speaker is suitable for the event. In table 1, we have provided a table that compares and contrasts the different aspects between keynote speakers and guest speakers.

Keynote SpeakerGuest Speaker
ContentKnowledgePersonal Experience
CredentialsCertificationAccomplishments
Program GoalEducationalExperiencial
Program StyleLecture, WorkshopMeet & Greet
Audience Interaction1-1 InterviewQ&A
ExpertiseIndustry SpecificInterest Specific
Table 1: The differences between keynote speakers and guest speakers

Now, let’s provide some additional context for each one of these points.

What is a Keynote Speaker

A keynote speaker is the main speaker for your event. They take center stage and set the tone, supporting the other features of the event, and helping the audience tune into the main takeaways. 

For example, corporate keynote speakers will integrate the organization’s achievements, challenges, and goals into their speeches. Conference keynote speakers set the audience’s expectations for what information and networking opportunities they stand to gain. Festival keynote speakers celebrate the event and upcoming featured entertainment.

What is a Guest Speaker

Guest speakers are speakers that add value to your event through their speech, individual likeness and notoriety. 

Event planners hire guest speakers to make specialized presentations. In other words, they make speeches that are not only informed by their career, but defined by their own personal experience. For example, a professional football player speaking at an event based in the team’s town would likely be a guest speaker. Or, an industry expert that has achieved a level of notoriety for their work will be hired because of their namesake as well as their expertise. 

Guest speakers add value to your event, beyond the immediate knowledge imparted by their speech. Let’s return to our examples of the football player and industry professional. They both will draw more attendees than equally experienced but less recognized speakers. This is because they can add value to the attendees’ experience by signing autographs, giving photo ops, or offering Q&As. 

Guest Speaker Examples

We represent and continue to work with some of the top trending guest speakers. This is just a short preview of the speakers available, and the full list can be found here.

  • David Kwong
    • New York Times, LA Times, and WSJ crossword constructor, Hollywood Magic Consultant
  • John Roesch
    • Former Lead Foley Artist of Skywalker Sound (Star Wars, Disney, Marvel)
  • Meb Keflezighi
    • Eritrean-born All-American Athlete, Boston Marathon Winner, face of Oakley, Sketchers, Sony
  • Leslie Maxie
    • Track star, Olympic track & field athlete, acclaimed sports broadcaster
  • Robert Paylor
    • Disabilities speaker, former athlete, inspirational and motivational speaker
  • Marcus Allen
    • Former professional basketball player, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence region, DE&I speaker

For more info on how to find a good guest speaker for your event check out our other article,
How Do Meeting Planners and Event Managers Work with Entertainment Agencies to Broker Talent?

Here is an example of a guest speaker speech:

If you don’t have time for a video, I’ll give you the general idea of what you should be looking for. Great speeches by guest speakers do the following:

  • Bring prestige to the event
  • Set the tone for the event
  • Excite the audience.

Take a look at our other blog post for the top guest speakers of 2024, and you’ll get a great idea of what makes an excellent guest speaker. 

First off, it’s important to learn what information you’ll need when you approach the speakers bureau or speaker agency to ask someone to be a guest speaker.

How to Ask Someone to be A Guest Speaker

Writing an Invitation Letter to a Guest Speaker:

When you approach a speakers bureau or agency to book a keynote speaker, you’re going to need to provide some information. The speakers agency that you’re working with will most likely write a formal letter/email regarding your event, date, location, time, and any other important information regarding the event.

We’ll give you a sample invitation letter to a guest speaker. Check it out below:

Company Name

Address

Location

Hello, [Speakers Name!] We would like to cordially invite you to be the guest speaker for our employee appreciation event. The event is a live event, and will take place on [date, location, and time.] Additionally, the expected attendance will be [# of people attending]

We feel as though you are a perfect fit for this type of event, and we would love to have you. Please let us know if you are available, and what your fees might be for this particular type of event.

Thank you!

You can see from this example that it includes all of the information that a speaker would need to start formulating their presentation. Additionally, the author has mentioned that it is a live event, and they have also given a specific number of audience members. This is all valuable information that your speaker will need to know, not only to do a good job, but to give you an accurate price.

So when approaching a speakers bureau or agency, make sure you’re ready to provide the following information:

  • Name of the Event
  • Event’s Theme
  • Live or Virtual
  • Location
  • Number of Attendees
  • Audience Demographic

What Are Typical Speaker Fees?

When learning how to host a guest speaker, asking for your speakers fees can be an overwhelming process at first. However, if you know what to expect you will be surprised at how straightforward it can be.

Guest speaker fees can vary depending on the speaker and the event. You may be asking yourself, “how much does a guest speaker cost?”

Guest speaker fees range anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 for an experienced keynote speaker, and potentially even more for a high-profile celebrity speaker. 

There are many factors to consider when it comes to guest speaker fees, and it becomes difficult to give an exact price. Fees can vary depending on the type of event, the experience level of the speaker, the type of organization, and the size of the audience. 

If you’d like to get a solid answer to this question, it’s best to contact an entertainment broker or keynote speaker agency to get a better idea of the fees. This way, you can be specific about your event and the type of speaker you’re looking for so that the broker can give you a realistic estimate. 

How to Proceed with Celebrity Guest Speaker Fees.

Depending on the type of guest speaker you’re looking for, they will most likely be working with an agency, or are otherwise difficult to get a hold of. 

Celebrity guest speakers have an agency exclusively for booking guest speeches at live events. In turn, that agency works with the guest speaker to handle the logistics of individual live events. 

So, to invite a celebrity guest speaker, it is best to get in touch with a keynote speakers agent directly, or find an entertainment broker. 

The agent or broker will help you negotiate the guest speaker terms and fees, which we will cover next.

Celebrity guest speaker fees are above the average keynote speaker. Since these speakers are celebrities and well-known faces, you will find that their fees are more expensive on average. 

Writing an Introduction for Guest Speaker

Writing an introduction for your speaker is an integral part of learning how to host a guest speaker.

When writing an introduction for your guest speaker, you certainly don’t want it to be too long, but you don’t want it to be short either. Ideally, you want to be concise, and include all relevant aspects of their career. If you include too many extra details and information, it could drag on and you may have already lost the attention of your audience. Most guest speakers will be able to provide you with their introduction.

How to Introduce a Guest Speaker Example

Here is an example introduction for one of our very own speakers, Kevin Reilly.

Kevin Reilly is an acclaimed keynote speaker, author, former broadcaster for Philadelphia Eagles Network, and former professional football player. He was Drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1973, captained the special teams of the Philadelphia Eagles, and briefly played for the New England Patriots. But, his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL was cut short. Kevin was diagnosed with a rare tumor that led to the amputation of his left arm. Despite the new challenges that laid before him, he went on to lead a storied career in sports broadcasting, keynote speaking, and as a sales executive for 30 years.Kevin attests that faith, family and fortitude kept his head in the game.

Notice how in just a few short paragraphs, you now completely understand Kevin’s story and what his presentation will be about. This is what you should strive for in writing an introduction for your speaker.

In this case, it’s better to be concise and get to the point rather than giving a long-winded introduction that overshadows the main speech. 

How to Thank a Guest Speaker Email

When writing a thank you email to a guest speaker, be sure to address them by name. It is also very important to state the specific event they spoke at, as well as any additional questions the audience may have had. Sometimes during the Q & A portion of a keynote, things get cut short since the end of the event is approaching by that point. 

So, when writing a thank you email to your speaker, it’s a good idea to include some extra questions that may not have been answered. This is a great piece of information to include in a thank you email, and is also a good time to get feedback from your audience!

Here’s one thing that they could do, along with a thank-you email, they could also send their own testimonial. Like so:

“Gathering together for the first time after the pandemic, we knew we needed a special speaker for our annual luncheon. Having Margaret Hoelzer as our keynote was exactly the memorable speaker we hoped to have. So many times we hear the statistics as it relates to sexual abuse but we forget the small faces that belong to them. Margaret gave us not only a face but a voice to so many who are never heard. We are so grateful for the impact of Margaret’s speech at our annual luncheon.” 

When hosting a guest speaker, adding a testimonial from one of the audience members is a great way for the speaker to get real feedback. This will help the speaker get a good idea of what actually stuck with the audience members. Additionally, it also helps the speaker figure out how to improve their presentations for future events. 

Great testimonials do the following:

  • Thank the speaker by name.
  • State the event that the speaker presented at.
  • State the specific benefits of having the speaker for you and your organization.
  • State the specific takeaways that you personally had from the speaker.

We received the testimonial above after asking CAC directly to send us written testimonials. In this blog, recommend that people write and send them proactively along with the thank-you email.

Enjoy Your Event!

Last, but certainly not least, you get to enjoy your event and see the fruits of your labor unfold. You will surely see the impact that a great guest speaker can have on employees or event goers, making the event that much more memorable!

As with anything else in life, the best way to learn how to host a guest speaker is to get out there and try to make it happen yourself!

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