Meeting planners have a choice of hiring an expert who speaks or hiring an expert speaker. I always try to put myself into the shoes of the audience, and I would personally not be that interested in a speaker who hadn’t actually done what they are speaking about. If I was going to hire an innovation keynote speaker I would want to listen to someone who had actually innovated and not just someone who had read some books about the topic. There is a big difference. I could read books on my own.
Expert in innovation
As a speaker you are in front of many different types of audiences and you can’t possibly be an expert in each industry. But if you’re an expert in your own topic that is a good start. You’re bringing much more credibility to your speech. When I speak to a group of scientists or engineers, I start by saying “I’m technically the dumbest person in the room. I’m not an expert in your field, but I am an expert in innovation and that’s what I want to talk to you about”.
Primary and secondary sources
What it boils down to is primary source and secondary source. An expert speaker is a primary source with firsthand experience in a topic. They have either run a business, adopted a child, climbed Mt. Everest, or in my case as an innovation keynote speaker, invented a product and got it on the market in 25 countries.
Speakers who haven’t actually done what it is they talk about don’t have the level of authenticity that an expert has. They can only give their interpretation of it as seen through a second-hand account. They haven’t been in the trenches and earned the title of expert. A secondary speaker can have charts and graphs, but not the problem-solving steps they went through themselves to arrive at those conclusions. They can’t offer a personal perspective. They’ve only read about it.
If you’re looking to hire an innovation keynote speaker, experience trumps book sense any day. To be an innovator you simply have to get down in the trenches and learn by doing. You can talk about innovation theory all you want, but innovation is “the action or process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value for which customers will pay”.
If you want to learn about innovation theory, hire a professor. If you want to learn how to generate ideas on a consistent basis to create new revenue streams, outwit the competition, design unique marketing campaigns, cut costs, improve sales, create new products, services, business models, and unique promotions, then hire an innovation keynote speaker who is also an actual innovator. Hire someone who has done it and has the credibility to back it up.
If you’re looking for an expert as an innovation keynote speaker, make sure you do the following:
Read their bio
A real innovator will list their innovations in their bio. If they don’t have their background as an innovator in their bio, chances are that they are just secondary sources. A real innovator would be proud to list them.
Check out their PR page
An expert in the field will have national and local press. How many times have they been interviewed by the press as an innovation expert?
Listen to their speeches
Good speakers don’t just talk about themselves, but they should give examples of some of their accomplishments and how they created them. It’s helpful for people in the audience to learn real life problem solving from someone who has done it. In the beginning I avoided talking about my inventions, but meeting planners asked me to add it in. I was even asked to bring my original clay prototype once when speaking to a group of scientists and engineers. They wanted to see how it got from a lump of clay to a finished product.
Check out their awards
Real innovators will probably have at least 1 or 2 awards if they’ve been around long enough. This is good social proof that they are an expert in their field.
Hire an expert who is also a professional speaker
Just being an expert doesn’t make you a great speaker. You want the background, but also someone who isn’t going to put your audience to sleep. The best solution is to hire an innovation keynote speaker who has both for the ultimate experience for your audience.