What Makes a Great Opening Speaker?


Great Opening Speakers:

  • Set the tone for the rest of the event.
  • Break the ice and gets people talking.
  • Inspire people to interact and connect with each other.
  • Energize the audience with a call to action.
  • Motivate people to make their time at the event count.

Here are 5 of our highest rated Opening Speakers:

Dan Clark | Inspirational Speaker on Teamwork and Sales
Motivational speaker Dan Clark encourages attendees to raise the bar and push themselves to the next level. Teaching a solid foundation on Perspective, Authenticity, Service Before Self, and Commitment to Excellence in All We Do, attendees will be inspired, energized and ready to learn what the rest of the event has in store.

Chip Eichelberger | Motivational Speaker
Chip Eichelberger’s interactive presentations break the ice and get attendees Switched On! Through his motivational keynotes, audience members feel empowered, engaged and ready to achieve peak performance. Eichelberger leaves attendees feeling ready to tackle new challenges; he works with them to look at what they’re doing now, find more effective options, and commit to change that creates productivity and value for your organization.

Carol Kinsey Goman | Speaker on Leadership, Body Language, Collaboration, and Change
Body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, teaches attendees the importance of appearance, posture, gesture, touch, facial expression, eye contact, voice, space and time. Through an interactive presentation, she teaches them how to read verbal and nonverbal messages in those around them, and brings awareness to the attendees own body language. By learning how to better read others and express themselves, attendees will be ready to communicate, make themselves more approachable, and discuss their new found knowledge.

Polly LaBarre | Speaker on Innovation, Leadership and Management
Innovative speaker and captivating storyteller Polly LaBarre, offers fresh perspectives on the modern organization. Attendees walk away with mind-flipping insights on how to evolve their management model – the most powerful source of competitive advantage today – and build an organization that is truly fit for the future: endlessly adaptable, relentlessly inventive, and genuinely inspiring.

Cam Marston | Generational Expert and Motivational Speaker
Cam Marston focuses on opening communication between multiple generations in the workplace. Through his engaging presentations, he will teach attendees how to effectively build connections needed to boost employee performance and retention. His practical ideas and techniques will start Matures, Boomers, Xers, and Millennials engaging with each other at the event and practice their new found knowledge before taking it with them back to the workplace.

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order.

Speaker Booking Tip Number 7

One of the most important points to consider when picking a speaker to place on your agenda is this:

Business conference

What do you actually want the audience thinking when the speaker finishes speaking and they are heading into the next session?

Here are the 3 main outcomes from a speaker’s presentation.

1. “Wow that was inspiring/motivating/entertaining! I am glad they brought that speaker in. I am energized and ready for what’s next on the agenda.”
(Above is great if the audience is going into an update on the biz by the CEO or a presentation of some new idea you want them to embrace. You can end the event this way and send them off on a high, or start an event that has a lot of detailed content on the agenda.)
Who delivers this type of keynote? Adventurers / High Achievers / Overcoming Adversity Speakers.

2. “That was very interesting and useful. I can’t wait to get back to my office on Tuesday and use those ideas. Glad I came to this event! I learnt something practical that will help my business.”
(Above is great if the audience is heading into a break or a session with general content. Also they are inclined to share this info with people who weren’t at the event. “I learned this at the event.”)
Who delivers this type of keynote? Coaches on Leadership / Communication / Customer Service, etc.

3. “That was fascinating and really made me think. I should talk to my colleagues Frank and Susan about what I just heard.”
(Above is great if the audience is heading into break-out sessions or even lunch. This is the kind of talk they will quote to clients. “I was at an event last week and heard this fascinating expert on…”)
Who delivers this type of keynote? People with interesting views on the Economy / Trends / Technology.

If you can’t pick one, try and pick two with one as the major and the other as the minor.

Top 10 Keynote Speakers to Watch In 2015

At The Sweeney Agency, we are constantly gathering recent reviews and references on both our existing speakers as well as new additions to our roster, then tabulate the data to see who clients are picking as the best.

After careful consideration, we have narrowed down our Top 10 Speakers to Watch In 2015 in subjects ranging from Leadership and Increasing Sales Performance to Motivational Strategies and Business Management.

Top 10 for 2015

Mike Abrashoff – Former Commander, USS Benfold and Author of It’s Your Ship
Mike Abrashoff’s inspiring speeches challenge people to re-imagine their own leadership thinking and instill a renewed responsibility for results and success. At the age of 36, the Navy selected Abrashoff to become Commander of USS Benfold at the time, the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet. The immediate challenges that faced him on this underperforming Naval war ship were staggering: exceptionally low morale, high turnover and unacceptably low performance evaluations. Few thought that this ship could improve. In many ways, the USS Benfold was actually an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today.

Robyn Benincasa – Firefighter and Motivational Adventure Racer
Robyn Benincasa – NYT Best-Selling Author of How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth – accepts full blame for inspiring people to do insane things like climb Mount Kilimanjaro, run their first triathlon, start their own adventure racing teams, or start their own businesses. This is, after all, who she is and what she does: Robyn Benincasa inspires people to do amazing things. Her unforgettable presentations have taught countless high-performance leaders all over the world about Building World Class Teams and the followership skills necessary for dynamic role shifting and true teamwork.

Ty Bennett – Speaker on Leadership, Communication and Entrepreneurship
With a natural ability to engage and empower others, Ty Bennett draws on his experience in the trenches to share real and tangible techniques about the principles of leadership that continue to create his success. The founder of Leadership Inc., who has been featured as one of the Top 40 Under 40, Ty is a young fresh voice providing interactive presentations that are engaging, dynamic and inspiring.

Reva Bhalla – Stratfor Vice President of Global Analysis and Speaker on International Politics
Reva Bhalla regularly represents Stratfor at speaking events in the United States and abroad. She provides an audience of decision-makers and sophisticated news consumers around the world with unique insights into political, economic and military developments. She uses her area of expertise combined with geopolitical analysis to produce penetrating explanations and forecasts of world events. This independent, non-ideological content enables users to better understand international events and reduce risks and identify opportunities in every region of the globe.

Dan Clark – Inspirational Speaker on Teamwork and Sales
Dan Clark is CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, an internationally recognized speaker, champion athlete, entertainer, and author. He is the primary contributing author to the best-selling series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. Dan Clark draws on his experience in the world of sports and business and shares inspirational stories that offer insight into change, motivation, teamwork, and sales.

Mark C. Crowley – Leadership and Management Author
Mark C. Crowley spent over 25 years in the dog-eat-dog world of financial services, an environment known for its heartlessness and “take no prisoners” attitude. Twice, he held national-level responsibilities – most recently as Senior Vice President-National Manager for Investment Product Sales at one of America’s largest financial institutions, where he was named “Leader of the Year.” What he ultimately discovered is that his chosen management style was highly uncommon, yet extraordinarily productive. His teams constantly excelled. When asked what he was doing differently, Mark replied, “It’s the same disciplined approach others have with numbers and production… but mine is with people. You could say I manage the emotional side of work. I intentionally make people feel valued. I identify their raw talents and seek ways to further develop them. I express my deep belief in them, proactively teach them skills and make a deliberate point of honoring and recognizing all their achievements.”

Ryan Estis – Speaks on Business Performance, Leadership and Sales
Ryan Estis has dedicated his career to helping both companies and individual contributors leverage change as a catalyst to achieve breakthrough performance. Using his two decades of hands on business experience the former McCann World Group Advertising Chief Strategy Officer is widely regarded as a leading expert on Culture, Leadership, Sales Effectiveness and the Future of Work.

Steve Gilliland – Motivational Speaker and Author on Teamwork and Leadership
A member of the Speaker Hall of Fame, Steve Gilliland is one of the most in-demand and top-rated speakers in the world. His keynotes are motivational and help inspire better teamwork and leadership. Recognized by his peers as a master storyteller and brilliant comedian, he can be heard daily alongside Jerry Seinfeld and Jeff Foxworthy on SiriusXM Radio’s Laugh USA and Blue Collar Radio. With an appeal that transcends barriers of age, culture and occupation–plus an interactive and entertaining style–Steve shows audiences how to open doors to success in their careers, their relationships and their lives. He speaks to more than 250,000 people a year and has shared the platform with numerous dignitaries. Over two million people have heard him speak, with his audiences crossing over 29 different industries. Steve has the distinction of speaking in all 50 states and in 15 countries. As one newspaper stated, Steve is what happens when the humor of Ron White collides with the inspiration of Zig Ziglar.

David Goldsmith – Leadership and Management Expert
Over the past 29 years, David Goldsmith, author of the book Paid to THINK and president of the Goldsmith Organization, has captivated audiences with his hard hitting, innovative, comprehensive and consultative approach to presenting. It’s not uncommon for David’s research to be so extensive that the CEO of a $14B company remarked, “You understand our business as much as our executive management team.” The pre-presentation research translates into fresh, relevant on-stage content that is anything but the same old presentation you’d hear from one venue to the other. David delivers new models, tools, and insights that are innovative, meaty, and transformative which generates new paradigms for listeners. David is direct in his approach and is known for a consultative presentation style that provides solutions universally to decision makers worldwide. As a result, audience members are empowered to take action and effect change immediately after sitting in on his programs.

Marilyn Tam – Author and Speaker on Leadership, Productivity, and Diversity
Marilyn Tam, Ph.D. is a Speaker, Author, Consultant, Board Certified Executive/Corporate Coach, CEO of Marilyn Tam & Co. and Founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation. She was formerly the CEO of Aveda Corp., President of Reebok Apparel and Retail Group; Vice President of Nike Inc. and also a successful entrepreneur who has built four companies. She is now an international selling author, and she speaks, facilitates workshops and consults with corporations, organizations and people to achieve greater success and happiness. Marilyn helps people and organization find and fulfill their life purpose, and provide them with the principles and actions steps to take them their goals. Her NPR (Net Promoter Score), the industry standard for measuring customer satisfaction, from her clients is among the highest rated of all speakers.

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Top Speakers On Communication

We are constantly gathering recent reviews and references on both our existing speakers as well as new additions to our roster. We tabulate the data to see who clients are picking as the best.

As of November 20th, 2014 here are our highest rated Speakers on Communication:

Top Communication Speakers

Bill Acheson – Speaker on Communication and Body Language
Bill Acheson is an expert in nonverbal communication, and teaches professionals how to project themselves with greater impact, and interpret subconscious messages sent by others.

Ty Bennett – Speaker on Leadership, Communication and Entrepreneurship
The author of The Power of Influence and The Power of Storytelling, Ty Bennett has reached more than one million people from 50 countries with his insights on communication, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Travis Bradberry – Speaker on Emotional Intelligence and Organizational Psychology
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning author of the #1 best selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart: a consultancy that serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies and is the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training.

Dr. Robert Cialdini – Expert in the Fields of Persuasion, Compliance, and Negotiation
Dr. Robert Cialdini has spent his entire career researching the science of influence earning him an international reputation as an expert in the fields of communication, leadership, teamwork, persuasion and negotiation. His best-selling book Influence: Science & Practice, is the result of years of study into the reasons why people comply with requests in business settings.

Dr. Tasha Eurich – Organizational Psychologist and Speaker on Leadership & Teamwork
Dr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, speaker and New York Times best-selling author of Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom Line Results and the Power to Deliver Both. Her life’s work is to help organizations succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders and teams.

Carol Kinsey Goman – Speaker on Leadership, Body Language, Collaboration, and Change
Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is an international keynote speaker, specializing in leadership and nonverbal communication. A frequent presenter for The Conference Board, The Executive Forum, and the International Association of Business Communicators, Carol coaches and presents keynote addresses and seminars on leadership, body language in the workplace, collaboration, and change communication.

Seth Mattison – Speaker on Communication and Millennials in the Workplace

An expert on millennials in the workplace, Seth Mattison bridges the gap in communication between generations, and provides valuable insights and actionable solutions that Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials can use to bridge generational gaps, become more productive, and achieve organizational success.

Dr. Nick Morgan – One of America’s Top Communication Theorists and Coaches
A passionate teacher, Dr. Nick Morgan is committed to helping people find clarity in their thinking and ideas, and then delivering them with panache. Nick’s methods are well-known for challenging conventional thinking, and have been published worldwide. He has been commissioned by Fortune 50 companies to write for many CEOs and presidents, and has worked widely with political and educational leaders.

Joel Zeff – Entertaining Communication Speaker
Joel Zeff creates energy. He is a dynamic speaker, improvisational humorist and author. His interactive performances invite members of the audience to participate in hilarious improvisational exercises that illustrate Joel’s central message: That organizations and individuals should celebrate every day successes to increase collaboration, productivity, passion and innovation.

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Top Speakers On Customer Service

We are constantly gathering recent reviews and references on both our existing speakers as well as new additions to our roster. We tabulate the data to see who clients are picking as the best.

As of November 4th, 2014 here are our highest rated Speakers on Customer Service:

Top Customer Service Speakers

Harry Beckwith
Marketing and Client Service Speaker

Jeanne Bliss
World-wide Speaker and Executive Coach on Customer Driven Growth

Curt Coffman
Chief Science Officer of the Coffman Organization and Executive Fellow at the Daniel School of Business

Dr. Kevin Freiberg
Leadership, Innovation, & Change Expert

Doug Lipp
Speaker on Leadership, Customer Service and Change

Scott McKain
Dynamic Speaker on Sales and Customer Service

Dennis Snow
Speaker and Author on Customer Service and Leadership

Robert Spector
Customer Service Expert

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Top Speakers On Teamwork

We are constantly gathering recent reviews and references on both our existing speakers as well as new additions to our roster. We tabulate the data to see who clients are picking as the best.

As of October 24th, 2014 here are our highest rated Speakers on Teamwork:

Top Teamwork Speakers

Stacy Allison
Author, Mountaineer and Speaker on Risk, Teamwork and Leadership

Dr. Travis Bradberry
Author and Speaker on Emotional Intelligence and Organizational Psychology

Chip Eichelberger
Motivational Speaker and Sales Trainer

Steve Gilliland
Motivational Speaker and Author on Teamwork and Leadership

Jeremy Kingsley
Inspiring Speaker on Leadership, Motivation and Teamwork

Adam Kreek
Olympic Gold Medal Winner and Motivational Speaker

Seth Mattison
Expert on Millenials in the Workplace

Rick Searfoss
Astronaut and Speaker on Leadership and Teamwork

Ray Smith
Former Commander of Navy Seal Force & Inspiring Speaker on Leadership and Teamwork

Tim Wright
Speaker on Employee Engagement, Teamwork and Performance

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Top Speakers On Innovation

We are constantly gathering recent reviews and references on both our existing speakers as well as new additions to our roster. We tabulate the data to see who clients are picking as the best.

As of September 29, 2014 here are our highest rated Innovation Speakers:

Top Innovation Speakers

Scott Anthony
Innovation Strategist

Daniel Burrus
Technology and Innovation Futurist

Erik Brynjolfsson
Award-winning Innovation and Technology Researcher, Author and Professor at MIT

Jim Carroll
Futurist, Trends and Innovation Speaker and Author

David Goldsmith
Leadership and Management Expert

Sally Hogshead
Speaker on Innovation in Branding and Marketing

Frans Johansson
Speaker on Diversity and Innovation

Roch Parayre
Expert on Innovation and Decision Making Strategies

Robert B. Tucker
Speaker and Author on Innovation

Mike Walsh
Speaker on the Future, Technology and Innovation

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Highest Rated Leadership Speakers

We are constantly gathering recent reviews and references on both our existing speakers as well as new additions to our roster. We tabulate the data to see who clients are picking as the best.

As of September 15, 2014 here are our highest rated Leadership Speakers:

12 speakers

Mike Abrashoff
Former Commander, USS Benfold and Author of It’s Your Ship

Robyn Benincasa
Motivational Adventure Racer

Ram Charan
Business Advisor and Author

Dan Coughlin
Author and Executive Coach on Leadership, Innovation and Branding

Mark C. Crowley
Leadership and Management Author

Chester Elton
Leadership and Management Author

Ryan Estis
Speaks on Business Performance, Leadership and Sales

Steve Farber
Speaker on Extreme Leadership

Polly LaBarre
Speaks about Innovation, Leadership and Management

Seth Mattison
Expert on Millennials in the Workplace

Mark Thompson
Expert on Sales and Leadership

Benjamin Zander
Boston Philharmonic Conductor and Leadership Speaker

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Most Requested Speaker Topics As of June 2013

What’s hot? What’s trending? What kinds of Speakers are clients asking us about as we head into the Summer of 2013? Every 2 months our system tabulates all the searches done on our website as well as requests and phone calls and produces a list of the most requested topics. Our position in the marketplace as a Speakers Agency focused on research and results as opposed to marketing and selling gives us the opportunity to really listen to our client’s needs.

That’s what makes the results of our most requested topics list so interesting. This list reflects the major issues and challenges facing businesses in June of 2013.

  1. Leadership – Always within the top 4 but now more than ever companies want to give people the skills to lead both themselves and others.
  2. Innovation – Risen steadily in past 5 years, businesses want to know how to encourage a culture of innovation throughout their organizations.
  3. Change – Always top 10, higher in challenging times.  Clients need to make their people more adaptable and resilient.
  4. Teamwork – Businesses want ideas on creating a more unified workplace as different generations clash and more organizations attempt to become flatter to foster collaboration and communication.
  5. Client Service – Companies are finding that increased competition means they need to know how to deliver a greater customer experience.
  6. Geopolitics – Risen rapidly since 2008. Businesses want to know how different geopolitical trends will affect investing.
  7. Future and Technology – Clients want to both educate and inspire people about the future so they are ready for it.
  8. Economy – Companies want updates and a sense of where the market is going and how it will affect their industry.
  9. Inspiring Stories – Dropped off in the recession as it was hard to justify but now coming back as a way of bringing people together.
  10. Motivational Strategies – Clients are asking for more practical ideas and hands on strategies that their people can put to work right away.
  11. Communication – Businesses looking for new ideas on improving communications with clients and employees.
  12. Social Media – Was number 3 at one stage but falling fast as companies still struggle to find the right way to use it.

Who is the most expensive speaker you have ever booked?

Well, if I told you his name, they would probably kill me, but it’s an interesting story. A few years ago a client came to us looking for some speaker ideas that would help their Leadership team take their company to the next level. As the discussion progressed and different ideas were evaluated, we decided that what they needed was either a current or former CEO of a Fortune 500 company who could give them some real world examples. These kinds of speakers are hard to pin down because they have such major responsibilities and their schedules can change daily. If you book them four months in advance and get your attendees excited about hearing them speak, it can be a major disappointment when the CEO cancels the night before and sends his VP of Public Relations to take his place at the podium.

With the help of another client, we were able to get the request in front of a former CEO of a major company who we knew was a very good speaker. We also knew from our research that this CEO was personally worth about $300 million, so we had to come up with something other than money to get his attention. Through more research we discovered that the CEO was a big fan of a particular author that we work with, so we made an interesting offer.  If the CEO spoke at our Client’s event, we would arrange for him to have lunch with the author. To our delight, the offer of lunch got his attention, and he accepted. We also had to pay his $150,000 speaking fee and hire a private Lear jet 60 to take him to the event and return home. The final cost of the speaking fee, the Lear jet and the 5 star lunch was close to $200k, and our client said he was worth every penny.