If you want your next event to be amazing and unforgettable, consider booking these speakers.
December 31, 2018 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When considering guest speakers you are booking for your events this year, you probably get excited about booking big names like Tony Robbins or Dave Ramsey to speak at your event. However, after you call the bureau, your dreams are crushed — these speakers can be slightly outside of your budget, or the firm dates you need are already blocked out.
Because of this, I’m often asked about up-and-comers or people who have knocked it out of the park at events I’ve attended with unique angles of motivation. The more I travel, the more fortunate I am to see people from different backgrounds — and with different personalities and ages — crushing it on the speaking circuit.
Here are some guest speakers I’ve seen that you can try to catch if you see them at an event.
1. Iyanla Vanzant – Author of “Get Over It.”
Iyanla Vanzant’s journey has taken her from being a mother on welfare and in an abusive relationship, to a New York Times bestselling author. In fact, she has published 15 books, holds a J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law and has been included in Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul100 list of visionaries and influential leaders. Vanzant also the host of an award-winning reality show, “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” on OWN. She hosts weekend retreats and has founded the personal development workshop Inner Visions World Wide.
Iyanla, whose name means “great mother,” has become a popular inspirational speaker because she’s passionate, funny and captivating, with has a no-nonsense approach.
2. John Hall – Author of “Top of Mind.”
John Hall is a keynote speaker who has worked with influential people on how to build trust. He’s a down-to-earth guest speaker who makes every effort to really connect with the audience by adding funny and relatable stories. I laughed pretty hard at this video, where he gave his daughter his old Timex watch, and she expected Siri to call her grandmother from it. It’s a great lesson in helping us understand how different types of people learn and communicate and what you can do to earn trust with the people around you.
He’s a master of helping people remain “top of mind” with the most important people in their lives, and he’s big on giving his audiences actionable steps to engage customers, teammates and other vital relationships.
3. Brittany Hodak – Co-founder of The Superfan Company.
Brittany Hodak is an award-winning entrepreneur who’s an expert at creating loyal fans for your brand. Hodak has worked with icons such as Walmart, Amazon, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. She’s been honored with awards from Billboard, Ad Age, Entrepreneur and Inc., and she shares her expertise as a columnist for publications like Forbes.
As a speaker, Hodak has spoken to thousands of professionals across the country and is known for her enthusiasm, energy and engaging personality. Best of all, she’s good at sharing practical advice that audience members can use immediately following your event.
4. Tiffani Bova – Author of “Growth.”
Tiffani Bova is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author and the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. She also hosts the podcast “What’s Next! with Tiffani Bova.” Bova delivered more than 400 presentations to more than 350,000 people around the globe, and she’s a regular contributor to publications like Harvard Business Review and Forbes.
Known as one of the leading experts in business innovation, Tiffani is articulate, has a dynamic presence and delivers masterful strategies.
5. Robert Glazer – Author of “Friday Forward.”
Bob Glazer has long been a highly sought-after speaker for his expertise on performance marketing. He then decided to start an inspirational email series that he sent out every Friday to his team called, well, Friday Forward. The thought-provoking topics he writes about, as well as the nuggets of wisdom, are why his Friday Forwards have quickly gained a worldwide following among CEOs. He’s now considered one of the up-and-coming motivational and culture speakers on the circuit and was ranked the No. 2 Small Business CEO by Glassdoor
Even if you don’t catch him speaking, I’d sign up for his Friday Forward emails. Personally, it’s given me the inspiration I need to wrap up the week on a high note and offered great ideas for how to be a better leader.
6. Michael Brenner – Author of “The Content Formula.”
If you’re looking for a blend of inspiration and actionable tips for your audience, look no further than entrepreneur Michael Brenner. After a successful 25-year career in sales and marketing, Michael started his own consulting firm, where he’s delivered more than 100 workshops on digital marketing strategy. He is the co-author of two books on content and digital marketing and is working on his third book, titled “The Empathy Formula.”
Michael speaks to businesses and startups, as well as at industry conferences all over the world, sharing stories on marketing, the importance of culture, and employee engagement. He refers to empathy as “the counterintuitive secret to success in business and in life” and can show your team how to nurture this gift to drive success.
7. J.T. O’Donnell – CEO of Work It Daily.
J.T. is the founder and CEO of Work It Daily, which provides career support through online courses, career coaching and peer networking. No wonder J.T. calls herself a “career therapist.” She’s also delivered more than 200 presentations to more than 10,000 professionals on a wide range of career advice and emerging workforce trends.
Unlike some speakers, J.T. is a true “field expert” who has more than 18 years of experience, managing, training and coaching. As a result, your audience members, no matter their age, will leave with the knowledge and confidence to tackle their career problems head-on.
8. John Ruhlin – Author of “Giftology.”
John Ruhlin is just your average Ohio farm boy who only went on to become the No. 1 Cutco knives sales representative. Today, he’s an author who runs The Ruhlin Group, where he’s worked with brands like the Chicago Cubs, Morgan Stanley and Caesars Palace.
John’s key to success is all about deepening relationships with customers and showing them your appreciation. As a result, you not only retain these customers, but they’ll also refer you to others. In fact, his keynote topics focus on giftology and the “referabilty” factor. However, after getting to know your specific audience, John will customize his speech for your event.
9. Gene Hammett – Author of “The Trap of Success.”
More than 1 million people have read Gene’s articles, listened to his podcast “Leaders in the Trenches” or applied his advice on developing leadership that will create hypergrowth.
Whether you want to book Gene Hammett for a conference or half-day workshop, he’s able to take an otherwise routine topic and make it new, exciting and captivating. He also encourages attendees to think outside the box and start implementing fresh ideas that can take their businesses to the next level.
10. John Rampton – Co-founder of Calendar.
While working construction, John Rampton was run over by a vehicle and was told he would never walk again. After experimental stem cell research, he did. That actually makes him the only person in this article who is part lamb. But, more importantly, his passion for life, how we spend our time and why we should focus on what really matters is contagious among any group he speaks to.
If time management, productivity and focus are important subjects for your audience, John would be a great addition to your next event.
11. Chris Gardner – Author of “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
Chris Gardner may not be a household name, but you’re probably already familiar with him if you’ve seen the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness.” (If you haven’t, spoiler alert: He was played by Will Smith.)
Chris has an incredible story. After struggling with homelessness, he achieved success as a stockbroker and started his own firm, Gardner Rich & Co. He offers great insights on overcoming obstacles and keeping the promises we make to ourselves.
If you want your next event to be amazing and unforgettable, consider booking these speakers. They all have unique stories and expertise that can leave your audience inspired to take action, whether that means improving their business or being kind to others.
Do you know of any motivational speakers who deserve a shout-out? I know there are a lot out there, and it’s always good to get more on people’s radar.