The Yorkshire Speakers Directory


This edition of the Yorkshire Speaker Directory comprises speakers, presenters, slide show hosts, small musical groups, entertainers and demonstrators.

The person you choose to be your next speaker is one of the most important elements for a successful, interesting or entertaining meeting. Therefore, selecting the right speaker for your meeting can be a daunting task and, as many of you will know, members can often show their displeasure at your choice of speaker. Whilst it is all too easy to criticise the Speaker Finder, the critics rarely, if ever, offer to take the job on - this site is here to help!

Some useful hints

Determine the needs of your audience

A thorough knowledge of the needs of your group is essential in selecting the right choice whether it is a speaker, musical presentation, slide show presentation, lecturer or info-tainer. Is your group more comfortable with info-tainment or entertainment? Do you need someone to motivate your group, or are you looking for a speaker with a message?

Establish your date, time and budget

• Regular speakers can be booked up to a year in advance; therefore you will need to get on their calendar as soon as possible.
• Consider the length of time you are allotting the speaker and where that time falls in your overall programme. If your time slot is flexible, a professional speaker can often tell you the right amount of time for the job. A professional can also make recommendations about the order of topics/speakers if one presentation will follow another. (You may not want to follow a humorous presentation with a more serious presentation). Or slide presentations during the summer (lighter & brighter Ð problems with black-out) months.
• Consider the fee you are willing or able to pay for a speaker, your search for a speaker can be narrowed or broadened, based upon your budget.
• Balance out those speakers who will visit you on a free basis or expenses with those that will make a fee. Similarly, you can balance out the meetings when you go out on a trip; less indoor meetings held during the summer months may help you to consider a speaker with a higher fee during the winter. Some of the smaller organisations may like to have a particular speaker to visit them but possibly the organisation's finances will not allow. Many of these organisations have that particular meeting as an open meeting when members are permitted to bring along a paying guest for the evening.

Choose speakers that will best suit the needs of your audience

A speaker's expertise in a given field may be the big draw, but a well-known name does not guarantee a professional presentation. High prices don't always mean high quality. Will your audience and the overall programme benefit most from a local celebrity; an expert in the field; a popular sports personality; a local author or a professional speaker who has a thorough knowledge of the appropriate topic?

Locate your resources

Personal recommendations are a great way to narrow your search - ask colleagues, friends and don't forget the local newspapers - check out who's on your circuit. Check out the not so local newspapers to see who is on their circuit.

Review your options and interview your speaker candidates

• A professional or regular speaker will often ask questions about the needs of your audience. If the speaker is new to you, you can always ask for details of previous engagements and, if they are speaking in your area, ask if you could attend the meeting and observe them in action.
• Ensure that a potential speaker has addressed groups similar to yours previously. Talk with them about their experience. Ask for a biography, testimonials or a video of their presentations, preferably before a live audience.
• Find a speaker who can and will tailor his or her presentation to your group.

Selecting your speaker

• Hire a professional or someone who is a regular speaker and you'll hire an ally - these speakers understand that your reputation is riding on their performance. Their experience with many different types of audiences can add to your peace of mind and to the overall success of the event.
• When selecting a speaker, consider that you are not only paying for the time the speaker is on the platform but also for the hours they have spent researching, preparing and customising their presentation. Some speakers may negotiate their fees when they are allowed to sell their products - ask about your options, your organisations rules may allow this but a small percentage (10%) donation from their sales would not be unexpected. If they do not sell products it will probably be a different fee.

Confirm the booking in writing

You should send a letter of confirmation (and a map Ð a photocopy of the map would suffice) that clearly outlines the expectations of both you and your speaker, consider:
• Send a stamped addressed envelope if you require written confirmation
• Always send the speaker the full postcode of the venue, with many speakers now have a satellite navigation system in their car.
• Always remind the speaker two weeks before the agreed date.
• Fees, reimbursements and payment terms.
• If the speaker may sell products and if so, how will this be dealt with?
• Cancellation policies.
• Equipment requirements.
• Make a mobile telephone number available for the speaker is case of delay on route to your venue.
• Reserve a parking space for the visiting speaker.
• Always remember to refund their parking fees if you do not have an available car parking space and they have to use a chargeable public car park. • Remember the speaker may have equipment to carry from their parked car to your venue Ð the distance from the parking place to your venue in the rain is critical. • Appoint someone to look after the speaker on his or her arrival. • The speaker would expect to start on time, as you would expect them to finish on time. • Please have the agreed fee and/or expenses ready. • Do not forget to offer your speaker a glass of water Ð many groups forget.

Work with your speaker

• Share information about your group. This will help the speaker become familiar with your organisation, while facilitating a customised presentation. • Send a copy of your newsletter or anything that would include key people, buzz words or insider news and views. • Give the speaker a clear routine of what you expect. • Be specific about the size and demographics of your audience. • Let the speaker know in advance about other speakers who may be also on the programme. This gives the speaker the opportunity to build on (and not duplicate) what the other speakers say. • Make sure the room is set up for optimum impact. Consider the number of chairs and how they are arranged and consider the room temperature and lighting or blacking out facilities for a slide presentation. Many organisations have vertical / horizontal blinds which in the case of a day time presentation will quite often not create an adequate blackout for a slide presentation (this can make a serious difference to the quality of the presentation if the speaker is using sepia images on the slides).
• Stay on schedule - although a professional will be able to Òmake upÓ time or slow things down if needed, keeping your programme on schedule will allow your audience to get the full impact of the programme you have created for them. • Your speaker should be able to provide you with a good introduction of themselves and their topic. The introduction should be short, energising and create positive expectations.

Evaluate the results

Ask selected members of your audience to complete evaluations on the speaker and his/her presentation. This will allow you to gauge your results and plan for future programmes. Consider sending evaluations to the speaker - they will not be offended and keep notes for the future on all your speakers.


Portable Appliance Testing

Recently I was contacted by a speaker from one of my publications with some information for the benefit of all speakers and speaker finders. It would seem that many of the venues we use, particularly local authority owned ones now ask for all portable electrical equipment brought onto their premises to be PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) tested.

Please note that during 2022, any electrical equipment that does not carry a PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) tested sticker may not be allowed to be used at some venues. This is for the prevention of fire which may be caused by faulty equipment. This has implication for slide projectors, cables, lights, extension cables, portable music devices and tape recorders at the very least. PAT testing is an important part of any health & safety policy. The Health & Safety Executive states that 25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances.

The Electricity at Work Regulations place a legal responsibility on employers, employees and self-employed persons to comply with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of such equipment. This in effect requires the implementation of a systematic and regular program of maintenance, inspection and testing.

A quick glance in the Yellow Pages or a browse for PAT testing on the internet should help to locate the name of someone local to you who can perform the necessary tests on your equipment. Once the tests have been carried out, each item tested will have a sticker fitted showing a date (annually) when it needs to be re-tested.

Once your equipment has been tested you will also be issued with a certificate, whilst not suggesting you should carry this with you to all your bookings it is worth knowing that you may be requested to produce it Ð having a copy of the certificate with your equipment may just save the embarrassment of being told you cannot use your equipment at that particular venue.

A speaker cannot rely on being told about these requirements by the organisation which has booked them - they may not be aware of them.

The foregoing information was provided by Chris Helme