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While the Internet and online research tools have made researching speakers easier too many options make it much harder to decipher which speakers are ‘world class’ and which speakers are the ‘wannabes’!

Lets face it…we are in an age where anyone can claim to be a speaker, influencer or game changer. How can you tell the difference, and how do you ensure you are investing in a speaker that has the skills and the profile to deliver the right solution for your next conference or event?

Ovations love making your life easier, and we understand that there is nothing worse than being the person responsible for booking a speaker that may have talked the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. With that in mind, we are excited to provide you with five hot tips that will help you ensure that the speaker you select is world class every time they grace your stage.


Word of mouth recommendations from someone you trust will always convey more authority and credibility than anything found online. I am not undermining the power of groups online providing feedback however even on those platforms people are always going to be pushing friends or people they know rather than thinking about what your key brief is or what outcomes you require.

The speaking industry covers many areas of business and within your trusted network you will uncover people who have seen great speakers in the past. Find out what speakers they have seen, and rely on insights from people that you trust.

This is also where building a relationship with a bureau consultant is also of value. One thing the Internet can never replace (at this stage) is the personal opinion of an emotionally intelligent human being who has spent years mastering his or her craft. That is also an opinion you can trust.


With the emergence of networking groups, master classes, and public conferences ‘who don’t pay for speakers’ there is often an expectation that speakers should speak for free or at discounted rates for ‘exposure’. If you are looking for a world-class speaker then you must throw this mindset out the door.

A world-class speaker has hard-earned credibility behind them as a thought leader and they are experts in their key area. In the same way, we might engage a lawyer or a doctor to provide a specialist service personally, professional speakers could be considered your organisational doctor. They are there to solve a problem for a business…so if a speaker has agreed to a drastic discount or has agreed to speak for free then you need to be prepared for the possibility of mediocre rather than mastery. I wouldn’t be asking my doctor for a discount!


Today the game of speaking happens onstage and online. While someone may be a solid speaker on stage without a professional brand online then they are failing to take ownership of what it is to be a thought leader in 2017. Of course, there are obvious components like having a website or a Facebook page…however world-class thought leadership and influence go one step further than that.

In my field of work, I am approached by speakers all the time who want Ovations to source them work. One of my pet peeves is that many of these speakers claim to be corporate experts, however, their expertise doesn’t exist when I put their name into Google. If I am paying someone a corporate speaking rate I need to know that their digital footprint and content feed reflects the fee I am paying as much as what they deliver on stage. The future of a world class speaking brand goes way beyond speaking on a stage. Look for thought leadership at every technological touch point, and if you find it you won't be let down.


If you have managed to cull down your list to your five favourite speakers don’t be afraid to ask the speakers to work to get the job. A world-class speaker will have no problems with this and will most likely have the materials on hand to support you.

If they have passed the digital litmus test then chances are you have seen a video of them speaking however this video may not be tailored to your brief. You are spending good money on a speaker so you are always within your rights to ask for tailored proposals, videos or to request a pre-sales phone call. You can also request to see additional testimonials or ask for a speaker to set up a referral call with another client they have worked with. If a speaker is not willing to go the extra mile and offer this support then they are not committed to the job or passionate about working with you!


As events professional, you are a master of understanding the needs of your attendees, the venue, the food, event theming and the list goes on. Speakers are after work, so they are always going to try and make you feel that they have the right solution but the truth is ‘we are not for everyone’. Your event is like a harmony with various chords and the speaker needs to be a part of that greater song. Yes, they may be the main act or the star of the show, but the truth is if they don’t fit with the essence of the overall event then they are not the right fit.

If you are looking for world-class take a step back, and listen to your Intuition. Consider the bigger picture and the purpose of the conference. Regardless of the content….ask yourself whether the speaker you are considering will help create not just a world-class presentation, but a world-class event.

Rebecca Tapp

A massive thank you to you both for all your assistance from selecting to co-ordinating the speakers for our annual ProLoan conference. Feedback was that this year’s speakers where the best they had EVER heard at ANY event. So this is pretty amazing, because they do go to a lot of sessions like these.

Director of Network Relationships - Proloan (aust) pty ltd

Again this year you and your team have been fantastic and extremely helpful.  In regards to you Sharm, you have been an absolute star and phenomenal help with our speakers and presenters, a great communicator, wealth of knowledge and so prompt with responding and looking at ways to cater to our needs.

Event Manager Fitness Australia

I would recommend, without hesitation, the services of Jane Rowland Smith and Ovations. Jane answered a last minute call to arrange a guest speaker for our principals. Nothing was too much effort, all was arranged within hours, and went very smoothly. The guest speaker was exactly what we required and our brief was followed. Thank you Jane and the team at Ovations.

Executive Director of Schools Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta

All aspects of the process has always gone seamlessly with Ovations and we will continue to seek your assistance for the awards in the coming years.

Thank you again, your help has meant that our Awards are very professional and extremely well received by our members and guests.

Executive Assistant BSCAA NSW Division

Jane, I personally want to thank you for all of your support, advice, patience and all round kindness that you have given me over the last 3 or so years.  This event would not have been as successful without the valuable MC’s you have recommended and the support you provided me when it all just seemed too hard

Shona Dilley – Smart School Awards, Department of Education
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