What is a Guest Speaker?

What Exactly is a Guest Speaker?
What is a guest speaker, and why should you care? Think of it like this: Have you ever been stuck in a presentation that was so dull that you wished you were anywhere else—even the dentist’s office? A guest speaker comes in to shake things up with fresh ideas and engaging stories, turning a snooze-fest into something you actually want to pay attention to. They’re not always the main event, but they often steal the show, bringing new energy and insights that keep everyone alert and interested. So, whether at a business conference or a university lecture, a top-notch guest speaker can turn an event from ordinary to unforgettable, and we’ll show you why. 
What is a Guest Speaker?
Simply put, a guest speaker is someone invited to share their knowledge, experiences, or insights on a particular topic. These individuals have something unique to offer and the qualities to make any event they participate in more interesting and valuable.
Where You’ll Find Guest Speakers
Guest speakers pop up in various places, adding a special touch wherever they go. Think about the last conference you attended. The most exciting part was probably hearing an industry expert share the latest trends and ideas. Guest speakers are also a big hit in webinars. These online events let experts worldwide connect with audiences without anyone having to leave their homes. Whether a business coaching session or a health and wellness discussion, guest speakers make the content more engaging and informative. Schools love guest speakers, too. Remember going to that cool assembly where someone came to talk about their job or adventure? They brought the real world into the classroom, gave you a peek into what’s possible in life and careers, and inspired you to dream big. Community events also benefit from guest speakers who discuss important local and international issues, share advice, or motivate the crowd with their stories.  
Roles and Responsibilities of a Guest Speaker
Guest speakers aren’t just there to talk—they’re there to make a difference. One of their main jobs is sharing their expertise. Maybe it’s through a detailed presentation, answering questions, or leading a casual chat. The goal is to give the audience something valuable they can use in their lives. Guest speakers also connect with people rather than dumping information or lecturing. A great guest speaker knows how to grab your attention and keep it. Think about the last time you felt enthralled by someone’s story or felt a surge of motivation from their words. It wasn’t just what they were saying; it was how they said it.   Let’s not forget the inspiration factor. Many guest speakers are invited because their stories of success and overcoming challenges can resonate with people. They don’t just share facts; they share their stories, which can motivate and inspire listeners to tackle their own goals.
What Makes a Great Guest Speaker?
You’re at a conference, coffee in hand, settling into your seat as the guest speaker approaches the podium. Right off the bat, you can tell this isn’t your typical snooze-fest lecture. Why?  
Key Qualities of an Effective Guest Speaker
  • Expertise in Their Field: Whether it’s tech, health, or marketing, a top-notch guest speaker is deeply knowledgeable in their area. They bring expertise that commands respect and attention from their audience.
  • Clarity and Engagement: Good guest speakers ditch the jargon and focus on clarity. They often use personal stories and effective visuals to help clarify complex ideas—considering that 85% of us remember visual info a few hours later compared to just 70% for strictly verbal content.
  • Interactive Style: The best speakers make it feel like a conversation rather than a lecture. They engage with the audience through questions, humor, storytelling, and interactive elements that keep everyone alert and involved.
Tips for Selecting a Great Guest Speaker 
So, with that said, how can you find the perfect guest speaker for your next event? Consider these three tips:
  • Dig Deep into Your Research: Who’s coming to your event? Understand your audience’s vibe—what excites them, and what do they want to learn? With this in mind, start scouting for speakers.  
  • Watch Them in Action: Before you commit, see the speaker in their element. Find videos of their past talks. Do they have the audience hanging on every word or checking their phones? Also, look up what people have said about them after their talks.  
  • Match Their Message to Your Mission: Whether your event is about inspiring creativity, sharing industry insights, or sparking discussions, your speaker should amplify this theme. Make sure their topics are spot-on for your goals. Chat with them beforehand, see if they’re excited about your theme, and ask if they have any special requests for their intro—it shows you care about making them look good.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Good Guest Speaker?
Bringing a top-notch guest speaker to your event isn’t just about filling a slot; it’s about transforming your event into a memorable experience. Solid data and real-life examples show how.
Tangible Benefits of a Stellar Guest Speaker
  • Kicking Up the Energy: Imagine a room where nearly everyone feels charged up—between 77% and 91% of attendees, especially the younger crowd, leave feeling more motivated and ready to engage, thanks to a great guest speaker.
  • Boosting Your Event’s Rep: Having a respected expert speak at your event is also highly influential. 95% of B2B buyers prefer getting their info from recognized leaders, making your event the place to be. An authority guest speaker at a webinar can also boost attendance by 200% to 300%.
  • Bringing in Fresh Ideas: When you have a speaker on the cutting edge, they bring the newest insights that can change how your audience thinks, sparking creativity and innovation.
  • Making Connections Happen: Good speakers tackle important, complex topics that get people talking and networking. It’s about opening doors and starting conversations that could lead to big things.
  • Building Confidence: Every time a guest speaker takes the stage, they’re not just talking but boosting confidence and self-belief. Each talk can increase the audience’s confidence and sense of capability by 30% to 32%.
SNI’s Real-World Success Stories
Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI) has a track record of delivering impactful results through guest speakers. For instance, a Comcast sales manager enhanced their negotiation skills and successfully closed important deals by implementing the “Three P’s” strategy learned at an SNI seminar. A partner at DLA Piper commended an SNI presentation on negotiation as the best they’d ever heard for its high-quality information and inspiring delivery. The General Services Administration and The Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing also found engaging and educational presentations valuable. Even at Johnson & Johnson, a director applied the P.A.I.D. model the day after an SNI session, resulting in a beneficial solution for all parties involved.
What Is the Difference Between a Guest Speaker and a Keynote Speaker?
Are you planning an event and wondering whether to book a keynote speaker or a guest speaker? Let’s discuss what each offers and how to choose the right one.
Meet Your Keynote Speaker: The Main Event
Think of the keynote speaker as the headliner of your conference or seminar that sets the stage or closes it out with a powerful, overarching message resonating with the entire audience. They’re there to ignite enthusiasm and present a broad perspective on the theme of your event. If your conference is about “Innovations in Green Technology,” your keynote might be an industry leader whose speech creates a buzz and gets everyone thinking about the future of sustainable tech. Keynotes often talk at the start or end, delivering a longer, more impactful presentation to inspire and captivate.
Guest Speakers: The Supporting Acts  
Guest speakers, on the other hand, are like the event’s supporting acts.. They come with unique expertise on specific topics that add depth to the broader theme. These speakers are perfect for covering particular aspects or niches within the main theme. For instance, in that same “Innovations in Green Technology” event, a guest speaker might zoom in on something specific like “Electric Vehicles” or “Clean Energy.” Their talks are usually shorter, packed with detailed insights, and tailored to audiences interested in those specific angles.
Choosing the Right Speaker for Your Event
So, how do you decide? It all boils down to what your event aims to achieve. If you need someone to bring together all parts of your conference with a big, bold narrative, go for a keynote speaker. They’ll give you that compelling start or powerful finale that can inspire and unify your audience. But if your event includes breakout sessions or you want to offer your attendees a menu of diverse, in-depth topics, guest speakers are your best bet. And there’s no rule to say you can’t use both. Both complement each other to create a well-rounded and engaging event experience. 
How to Structure the Guest Speaker’s Appearance
Bringing in a guest speaker can turn your event into something truly memorable. To make the most of it, consider following the below blueprint:
  • Pre-Event Preparation: Define what your event aims to achieve—whether it’s to educate, inspire, or entertain. Once set, thoroughly brief your speaker about the agenda and the audience’s background so they tailor their content effectively.
  • During the Event: Start with a lively introduction beyond the speaker’s bio to excite the audience. Encourage your speaker to use a captivating opening, a well-organized main message, and a strong conclusion, and facilitate an engaging Q&A session.
  • Post-Event Follow-Up: Collect feedback from your audience to refine future events and share it with your speaker for their development. Distribute recordings and materials to your audience to prolong the impact and reach of the event.
Where to Find a Guest Speaker
If you’re planning an event and looking for the perfect guest speaker, consider contacting SNI. Since 1995, SNI has been a go-to source for expert speakers, turning events into something memorable that resonates. Here’s why you should team up with Shapiro to find your next guest speaker:
  • Perfect Match: You’re not just getting any speaker. Shapiro finds the one who’ll click with your audience. Need someone motivational, funny, or insightful on business skills? They’ve got just the person.
  • Expert Advice on Tap: Picture this: a speaker who doesn’t just talk but transforms the room with fresh, expert insights on negotiation, sales, and influence. Those are the kinds of speakers Shapiro can bring to your stage.
  • Speakers Who Stand Out: With many voices from different fields, including seasoned pros like Jeff Cochran and Dan Parsons, your event will keep everyone engaged and entertained.
  • Custom Fits: Every event has its vibe. Shapiro tailors their speakers’ topics to blend seamlessly with your event’s theme so your audience leaves inspired.
  • Worldwide Appeal: Planning an international event? No worries. Shapiro’s speakers can charm audiences in eight languages so no one misses the message.  
Final Words
Understanding the role of a guest speaker can bring your event to life. They’re not just another name on the agenda—they’re the spark that can keep your audience engaged and make your event memorable.  That’s where SNI comes in. With a wealth of experience, we know exactly how to match your event with a speaker who’s knowledgeable and natural at captivating audiences. Whether it’s a business conference or a creative workshop, SNI has the perfect speaker. Reach out to us at SNI. We’re happy to help you find that perfect guest speaker who will leave your audience inspired and looking forward to more.
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