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A lot of preparation goes into planning an event, and if everything’s running smoothly, all that hard work will seem effortless on the big day. Event planners have to make a ton of smart decisions in order for an event to fall into place. The biggest decisions for meeting planners are the event venue and keynote speaker. While there are certainly other important attributes, these are the big two that can really influence attendance and make or break your event. Read on to learn how you can make the best choice when it comes to the venue and speaker for your next big event. 


Your venue says a lot about your event and can affect its outcome. The venue is what sets the scene and greatly influences attendee experience. While providing the right atmosphere, your venue must also be convenient and accessible, as well as deliver the space, technology, and amenities you need for optimal guest experience. Here’s what to consider when choosing a venue:

Think Outside the Box
No matter if you’re planning an industry conference, corporate meeting, or training workshop, think beyond the traditional event venue. Choose unique venues to provide your guests with something different that they’ve never seen before. This will make your event stand out. Instead of the boring boardroom or conference center, think along the lines of universities, museums, historical centers, sporting arenas and stadiums. When choosing your unique venue, don’t forget to consider your business and purpose. Pick a venue that’s unconventional but still complements the theme and purpose of the event.

Be Accessible
Will your event be attracting a local, regional, national or international audience? Your venue must be convenient and accessible for your audience. For out-of-towners, your venue should be located near a major airport, bus and/or rail station. Don’t forget to consider the local amenities, including transportation, hotels, attractions and eateries. 

Consider Space & Amenities
Space and amenities are important considerations when choosing a venue. Though obvious, it’s worth noting that your venue needs to be large enough for all your expected guests. Along with the actual event space, you may want to choose a venue that offers on-site lodging accommodations for multiday events or those expecting nonlocals. The event should also offer the state-of-the-art technology you need, such as wireless internet, surroundsound and visual equipment. 


The keynote speaker is an integral component of your event. Your speaker is tasked with attracting an audience, conveying your message and reinforcing the agenda of your event. A great keynote speaker will differentiate your event and encourage people to attend. Keep these tips in mind when choosing the perfect keynote speaker:

Consider Your Agenda
Along with attracting people to your event, the purpose of your speaker is to strengthen its underlying purpose and goal. Is your event’s purpose to inspire, inform, persuade or entertain? Most events are a combination. Taking from my previous example—an employee appreciation dinner could benefit from a performer who infuses humor into their speech for entertainment, while inspiring innovation and personal development. Remember, every speaker has their own specialty and speaking style, so make sure it perfectly aligns with your event’s agenda and overall goal. 

Book Early
Booking an event venue and hiring a speaker should both be done early on in the event planning process. Not only do the venue and speaker set the stage for your entire event, but also you’re more likely to get your top choices when you start early. With that said, you don’t want to book too early and end up choosing the wrong person. While it’s never too soon to start your research, you should only formally hire a speaker after the event agenda, audience and purpose have been clearly defined. 

Get Outside Help
Even if you’re an industry veteran with your own network of keynote speakers, it’s beneficial to use a speakers bureau. Speakers bureaus can save event planners a lot of valuable time by connecting them to speakers that would be ideal for their event. Based on your unique needs, requirements and budget, the agency matches you to the right talent that will fortify your message and provide value to your audience. From there, you can take those recommendations and view speaker bios, videos and reviews before determining the final keynote speaker for your event. 

Get Connected
Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau:

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In our Winter 2017 issues, we’re featuring the tech companies that were part of the 2016 ibtm America TechCollective in partnership with DAHLIA+. Because we can only fit so much in print, read on here for our full interview with Dade J. Gaylord, vice president of operations, Zerista, by JackRabbit Systems, Inc.

Zerista is an event management website and mobile app that allows event organizers and attendees to manage schedules, set up meetings, generate leads, and participate in games that encourage event learning, discussion, and collaboration.