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What To Look For In An International Keynote Speaker

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

Adding diverse perspectives and ideas to the next keynote event you are arranging is a great way to get people excited to attend and pay attention. A simple way to do this is to book foreign speakers who can provide a different perspective on the topic you want to emphasize.

Though selecting an international keynote speaker will have some similarities to booking local talent, there are some helpful tips that can guide you along the way, making the global search easier to navigate.

Familiarity With the Topic and Outcomes

When arranging a conference that will include a keynote speech, you want to have a clear idea of what the speaker will be talking about.

Before you spend hours of your precious time looking at all of the options for talent worldwide, take a moment to write down the main objectives for the keynote speech and refer to it often to stay on track.

Whether it is mindful leadership skills or creating a balance between life and work, determining the subject must be done thoughtfully so it can be communicated to the speaker, particularly when they are less familiar with your culture.

An Informative Portfolio

Being able to see a keynote speech in action is a priceless opportunity when searching for a speaker, and this option becomes even more useful when you are arranging international engagements.

Once you have found potential speakers that align with your objectives and focus, review their portfolios for the following intercultural experience and abilities:

  • International speaking examples: Look for un-cut keynote speeches that have been delivered to a diverse crowd and scan the audience for alertness and attentiveness.

  • Manners of delivery: Observe how the material is delivered, both verbally and non-verbally. A speaker should be talking slowly and coherently, in a concise and straightforward manner.

  • Off-topic references: What is not said is just as important as what is said. Make sure a speaker is not referring to potentially offensive, off-topic material, like religion and politics.

  • Speaking habits: Make a note of any use of jargon or other language that is not universally understood. These speaking habits can be insensitive and should be avoided.

  • Avoidance of unnecessary distractions: You want a speaker who does not invite unwanted distraction. Be mindful of the on-stage clothing attire as appropriate for the local culture.

Ultimately, you want to work with a speaker who demonstrates an authentic comprehension of your intentions and how to communicate across cultures to achieve the desired outcomes.

Logistical Teamwork

Meeting planners understand the multitude of details that must be addressed to produce an incredible keynote event. The logistics acquire another layer of complexity when international travel is required. Therefore, establishing open travel communications with your speaker is a vital factor to the event.

Regardless of your speaker’s international experience, request a time to speak with one another prior to the event to discuss and confirm travel details such as:

  • Passport expiration: It is a common practice to travel with a passport that remains current for at least six months after the dates of travel. Have the speaker confirm the status of their legal documents to avoid unpleasant complications at the airport.

  • Length of stay: A speaker should arrive at least one day before the conference, but certain locations may warrant an earlier arrival. Make sure both you and the speaker are in full agreement regarding their length of stay.

  • Travel preferences: Some speakers have flight and hotel preferences and may even appreciate booking travel on their own. Gathering this information from the outset will expedite the reservation process and minimize the occurrence of making changes.

  • Jet lag awareness: For a thoughtful touch, inquire about any jet lag issues the speaker tends to suffer from. Upon their arrival, arrange for known remedies to be delivered to their accommodations so they can begin recovering right away.

Confirming the minutiae of international travel not only ensures accurate arrival and departure times, but it also creates a foundation of trust and respect, which are both key components to building a solid team.

Willingness to Collaborate

Executing a fantastic speech should be the goal of any speaker, but this achievement often relies upon a collaborative approach between themselves and the meeting planner.

Knowing this, make sure you find a keynote speaker who can communicate their needs, is willing to listen to your input and is open to working with you to create a spectacular event.

Take time to clarify technology requirements and what equipment your speaker will be bringing with them or need to be delivered to the venue. Additionally, go over cultural differences that the speaker may not be aware of, so they can prepare their material appropriately.

Bringing different cultures together can provide a wealth of long-term benefits, making all of the challenging preparations well worth the time and effort. By approaching the process with consideration and thought, your event can effectively maximize the impact that an international keynote speaker can deliver.

Pandit Dasa is a mindful leadership expert, motivational keynote speaker and author who has spoken at Fortune 500 companies and helps organizations improve employee engagement, retention and workplace happiness. He helps individuals develop positive leadership qualities, lower stress and anxiety, increase focus and productivity and boost emotional intelli


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