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Event Speakers: Guide to Booking an International Speaker

Updated: Jul 10

An international speaker holding a microphone delivering a speech

Are you planning an event and need to hire an international speaker? Whether it’s a corporate event, international summit, conference or workshop, event speakers can have a huge bearing on the success of your event.

As such, it is imperative that you get the right person for the occasion.

The thing is, though, while it might seem as simple as doing a quick online search, jotting down some names before reaching out to potential candidates who should be eager to grace your auspicious event, there is more that goes into booking an international speaker.

You need to sift through the array of options available to you, then weed out speakers based on area of expertise, experience, authority, cost and other relevant factors that we will outline here. The good thing is that by narrowing down your options using these defined criteria, it becomes easier to find a speaker that matches your requirements.

Of course, provided they are available and willing.

Why an international speaker?

First things first, an international speaker is a professional speaker who delivers talks, speeches, presentations or addresses at conferences, summits, workshops or other events across borders.

As with all public speakers, an international speaker can fall into one or more of the many categories of speakers that exist, including:

  • Keynote speakers

  • Motivational speakers

  • Inspirational speakers

  • Educational speakers

  • Business speakers

  • After dinner speakers etc.

Generally, most public speakers tend to double up as one or more, so it’s not a case of “either…or”.

International public speakers tend to have a good grasp of a certain topic, which is what you should expect at a bare minimum from the person you’re looking to on-board. That’s because when hiring an international speaker, you are not just looking for someone to fill in your schedule.

You want a dynamic professional who is not only capable of communicating effectively, but one that can also captivate an audience. You want an impactful speaker that can bring actual value to your event that the audience can look back on memorably.

Another reason for the growing popularity of international speakers is that their content transcends borders and is able to resonate with audiences the world over, be it individuals or corporates.

For instance, as a motivational speaker on resilience, I have found that adversity and resilience is a subject that cuts across the board. No matter where you go, individuals and organisations undergo challenges of their own. I have addressed audiences in the UK and across Europe, North America, India, and the Middle East, and this is a common thread.

As an international speaker, the challenge would therefore be to tailor the message to the audience I’m speaking to while ensuring I maintain the cultural and societal context of the country I’m speaking in.

But overall, adversity (and resilience) is a universal message we all understand and resonate with. Ditto a host of other topics like tech, AI, self-development, entrepreneurship and more.

Factors to consider when booking an international speaker

Selecting the right international speaker can be challenging, especially if you have never done it before. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 7 important factors to keep in mind if you’re looking to hire an international speaker:

  1. Speech objectives

  2. Speaker expertise

  3. Audience makeup

  4. Profile vs substance

  5. Costs

  6. Presentation skills

  7. Availability

1. Speech objectives

One of the first things you need to do when booking an international speaker is to be clear on your objective(s). What is the goal of the event? What do you wish to accomplish by bringing in a speaker?

Is it to provide insights regarding areas such as leadership, business growth or creating profitable enterprises? Or are you a company looking for a motivational speaker for corporate events to inspire your staff?

Perhaps you’re planning a conference to educate on topics around social change, human rights or personal development?

Or maybe you need a resilience speaker to teach your audience about overcoming challenges, whether from a personal or professional context?

Someone to help you reboot your organisational culture, perhaps, by challenging your norms and helping your people cultivate healthier workplace habits?

Whatever the objective of your event is, you need to be clear on that goal from the onset. This will simplify your search while ensuring you book someone who aligns with your ideals and the mission you wish to accomplish.

2. Speaker expertise (Round pegs for round holes)

Closely related to the objective of your event, you also need to consider expertise when hiring international event speakers. Expertise is the specific field the speaker majors in vs how it aligns with your event theme. Round pegs for round holes, if you may.

While many public speakers can speak on different topics under the sun (after all, that’s our job!), you need an expert in a field or theme that your event is centred around for best results – whether that’s resilience, artificial intelligence, space exploration, you name it.

For example, any motivational speaker will be at ease delivering a speech around a topic like overcoming adversity or chasing after your goals. However, if you need someone who knows the topic inside-out, you should narrow down your search further and consider event speakers in this particular category.

The good thing about getting an expert versed in a certain subject is that their talks tend to be more impactful because the speaker is qualified either through training or experience (read first-hand accounts) – which is difficult to replicate.

This, by extension, means you get better value for the cost. And isn’t that what the whole point is? To bring in someone who can connect with the audience and deliver a speech with profound impact on the attendees?

3. Audience makeup

It’s important to match your audience with the speaker in order to ensure the speaker appeals to the audience.

For instance, if you’re hosting a women’s conference or planning a women’s-only corporate event, it makes sense to have a female speaker for events whose theme revolves around women’s issues or challenges. Same case for men. And youth – look for speakers for youth events who can easily relate with the audience, whether it’s high school or college students, or young people in general.

Similarly, if you’re inviting international keynote speakers to a leadership forum, obviously you want a corporate event speaker who is experienced with leadership and management.

You can have the best life coach, comedian or author deliver a speech, but if they cannot appeal to the audience or the two are a mismatch, the speech will likely fall flat.

As you define your goal and theme of your event, consider your audience as well.

If it’s an internal corporate event, you can even ask the relevant staff that will be attending about their needs and expectations vis-à-vis event speakers. If it’s an international conference or workshop, ask yourself what exactly the attendees are looking to gain from the talk; why they will be attending the event in the first place.

Armed with that information, it becomes easier to select event speakers who will resonate with your audience.

4. Profile vs substance

When booking international public speakers, some organisers are prone to go for the bigger names they come across – budget permitting, of course.

In truth, however, while some famous personalities or celebrity speakers for corporate events can get people to take notice of the upcoming event, it does not guarantee the presentation will be a success. Not to mention, the more high-profile the name is, the more expensive they will be.

You need to decide which between profile and substance you want to prioritise, well bearing in mind that a celebrity name isn’t necessarily a bigger expert than the next guy in the field you need a speaker for.

5. Costs

Speaking of budget, cost is something else you need to keep in mind when booking an international speaker. It’s always a big factor when hiring a speaker, but costs become even more important in the case of global speakers because these come with additional costs you need to budget for.

In addition to the usual speaker rates you need to evaluate (which differ widely amongst speakers), you also need to factor in travel expenses and accommodation costs when dealing with international public speakers – unless they will be speaking virtually.

Depending on the individual speaker’s contract, some might also expect you to foot other expenses like food and refreshments which may or may not be reasonable depending on the nature of the event. As well, if you’re planning a meet-and-greet session after the speech, confirm if there are additional costs on top of the standard fees the speaker is charging.

The speaker contract should contain these details; and even if it does not, make sure to check everything with the speaker before you confirm your booking.

Something else related to costs you should remember is the payment method and associated fees, including currency exchange fees.

6. Presentation skills

Another important consideration you should make before booking an international speaker is their presentation skills. Event speakers all have their own presentation style, so make sure that these align with your needs.

There are those who will deliver a lengthy keynote address on stage, others like engaging the audience. And then there are other event speakers who prefer a moderated Q&A session. While most should be good with the former, it never hurts to confirm this in advance to ensure you’re on the same page – assuming you are clear in mind on what exactly you want depending on your audience.

It is when evaluating the presentation skills that you should also check for the speaker’s style. Things like how they work the stage and their use or reliance on technology.

If you’re looking for speakers for virtual events, how comfortable are the candidates you are considering with virtual presentations? Is it something they’ve done before? And is it something they are happy with on this particular occasion?

7. Availability

Once you’ve done your due diligence and it comes down to booking your speaker(s), find out if they are available. Many speakers tend to have their calendar booked in advance. But it’s also best practice to book your international event speakers early to help with your planning and avoid last-minute frustrations.

Still on the issue of availability, you should also factor in time difference when booking an international speaker – double so if it’s a virtual event. Speakers for virtual events need to be comfortable with your timings or event schedule. If there is a notable time difference between the pair of you, that’s something you need to confirm.


Whether it’s an internal business event or international event such as a summit or conference, bringing in an international speaker can benefit you in more ways than one depending on what you are looking to achieve.

International event speakers present a great learning opportunity for the audience through their expertise and their insights can be hugely inspiring too. Also importantly, they introduce fresh perspectives which – particularly for corporates – may be much needed if you are aiming to challenge existing thinking and overhaul a culture that is no longer serving.

As with most other event speakers, an international speaker can be a justifiable cost for businesses and event planners alike.


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