Don’t Book a Headliner for Your Next Event

Don’t book a headliner? Are we crazy? It depends.

BigSpeak has served F1000 clients, top associations, and universities for more than two decades now, and we’ve grown by 40% every single year. Until 2015, the magic bullet was always bringing in a big headliner to keynote events. But last year, our CLO, Ken Sterling pioneered an exciting new trend: setting up “TED-style” information sessions at corporate events.

“I’ll never get fired for hiring IBM or bringing in a headliner – why should I take the risk?”

Today, there’s a good chance that more than 30% of your audience has, in fact, already seen your headliner and as a result, they’re probably just going to tune them out. Moreover, it’s likely that an additional 15% of your audience will be uninterested in the topic or story at hand — that means nearly 50% of your audience is going to be disengaged.

Bringing in (3) unique speakers with fresh ideas to discuss (3) different topics will ensure that everyone in the audience connects with at least one or two of them. This new format has experience great success with many F1000 companies — Pfizer, Genentech, and Paypal, to name a few — and has received rave reviews from major non-profits, associations, and universities across the country.

Of course, we at BigSpeak realize that expanding from a single headliner to (3) thought leaders may be viewed as a risk by some, but rest assured that this is a fast-growing trend — in fact, it might actually be riskier NOT to consider this format change as your competitors may beat you to it. We work with each client to carefully select the best (3) speakers based on the theme, audience, and intended goals of the event.

But Wait – There’s More!

Audiences love TED – the talks are short, to the point, and are definitely high-impact. The human attention span typically begins to fade at the 23 minute-mark, so why go a full hour when people will simply drift off and start checking their iPhones?

Headliners usually run $75K and up — for the same fee, we can bring in (3) top-tier thought leaders and NY Times Best Sellers with incredible “connect the dots” speaking styles.

To set your company apart from the competition and foster perceptions that you’re an innovative and progressive industry leader, try out this novel and forward-thinking approach. Moreover, it will fit with the culture of the events and community at CMA.

Here are some of our curated “TED-style” speaker lists that we’ve been recommending to our top clients:

List 1:

List 2:

List 3:

List 4:

Still feel as though the above combos aren’t quite right? That’s okay – we can mix and match any combination of speakers for you, using our ExpertSelect process. Call BigSpeak to find out more about how our exciting and impactful new format can transform your business today!

Ken Sterling is the Chief Marketing Officer at BigSpeak Speakers’ bureau – the leading keynote and business speakers bureau in the world. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California and an MBA from Babson College. Ken teaches Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Strategy at UC Santa Barbara. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, business consultant and sales & marketing expert. For press interviews, contact

(Main image credit: Ted Conference/flickr)