Chip Eichelberger

Chip Eichelberger

Choosing your “bookend” speakers are essential to your meeting success. 4.5 ways to ensure you make a great selection.

The open and closing speaker(s) are the cornerstone of your event. Kick-off your event well and there will be a buzz and everyone taking about it! Participants already feel glad they came. That opening speaker should have high-energy, an upbeat positive message and get the audience involved. It should set the tone for the entire convention. Remember, audiences are craving engagement, not another speech.

If you blow it and choose a stinker, you now have an uphill battle to salvage the event. Don’t take a chance! Hire a proven pro who you know has a high likeability factor and that will connect with your audience.

The closing speaker is essential to send the audience out the door with the right mindset and a clear call to action to put in motion all they have learned. It is more difficult to be the closing speaker because of the many late nights and long days the participants have had already. They must be proven to be able to overcome those obstacles and come through shining anyway!

Perhaps you can choose a closing activity like the Breaking Barriers program. When the audience gets truly involved and interacting it is always memorable. Give them an opportunity to participate in the Breaking Barriers – Board Break Experience program with Chip Eichelberger and it is unforgettable!

Often Chip will “bookend” the event and be the opening AND closing speaker. It brings continuity to the event and also saves on fees and travel costs.

“Chip far exceeded our expectations when he opened day one AND closed day two at our National Sales Conference! Our audience has a wide range of attendees from mortgage originators (sales), their leaders and corporate executives. Chip’s preparation leading up to the conference significantly increased his impact as his content was engaging, entertaining, filled with energy and relevant to our audience. The closing Board Break Experience was a great way to send people back into their markets energized and fired up. The picture says it all. When Chip got off stage the AV producer told Chip, ‘You blew last years speaker off the stage.’ We had to agree.” – Gateway Mortgage Group, LLC

Here are a few ideas to help you better select your opening and closing speakers.

  1. Review sample videos, written and video testimonials and see what others have to say.

Review their demo video. Is it recent and well done? You should get a good feeling in the first 3 minutes. If you like it, keep watching! There should be much more to watch that 10 second sound bites!

Look at both video and written testimonials from meeting planners just like you. What do they have to say? Where has the speaker spoken before? Do they have a long record of success, doing their homework and exceeding expectations?

  1. Personally talk to the top candidates on your short list.

The Intelligentsia Agency is your partner and terrific at suggesting speakers. When you get your short list, set up a call to speak directly to the speaker. You want to know more about – their experience, why they are a great opener and/or closer, their expectations of you and, of course, their style of presentation to get your convention off on the right foot. You want someone with high energy, interaction, and a high likeability factor.

You also want to feel that energy, enthusiasm and get a sense of the speaker’s use of humor to fully engage your attendees. It doesn’t take long to determine if this is the right speaker for your convention but it’s an essential step in getting the best speaker for your event.

  1. Ask about the speaker’s experience within your event attendees’ expertise.

A good opening speaker for a medical convention doesn’t have to be a doctor. In fact, put an MD on stage to kick off the event and chances are half the audience will doze off during the presentation (complete with slide show) after that heavy breakfast.

Good opening speakers take the time to research the interests and challenges of any audience. Your opening speaker will be well versed in motivating and engaging any audience to prepare attendees to absorb the information they’ll gather over the next few days. Good opening speakers use audience interaction, engaging activities, energy and humor to create a positive audience mind set.

The perfect opening or closing speaker will do the homework and interviews to understand the industry, the specialties, the needs and wants of attendees, and prepares these men and women for what’s coming up. It’s much more important to find a professional opening speaker who motivates and challenges than one who simply re-hashes what the audience already knows.

  1. Get a solid ROI from your speaker selection.

If your first priority in hiring an opening speaker is cost, chances are you won’t find the

right selection. Good speakers understand audience dynamics and they know how to prepare themselves and your attendees for the upcoming opportunities that will take place over the course of the event. A great speaker is an investment, not a cost. They can be considered insurance your meeting will be successful!

4.5 Ask what else the speaker can do for you at the event.

Ask the speaker if they could do a break-out program for you too. Would they be able to attend the dinner the night before? Could they serve as an emcee? Do they have some great products they can make you a special deal on? Can the speaker stay for lunch or do a book signing? Almost anything is possible if you ask.

So, interview the prospects personally to develop your short list, start early with the search process, watch clips that demonstrate a prospect’s talent and speaking style, ask questions about preparation and get the best ROI from the speaker you select to open your event.


This is an article by Chip Eichelberger. Click here to check his profile page on our website, and read about his biography, speaking topics, keynotes, or clients.