November 28, 2011
Every successful meeting has a clearly defined goal. Whether that is to introduce a new product to far-flung distributors or rally employees behind a changing strategic direction, the meeting is a means to an end. 

If selected thoughtfully and briefed well, a good speaker can help move the participants towards that goal, says Gail Davis, president of Colleyville, TX-based speakers bureau Gail Davis & Associates. This starts with “clearly defined goals for the meeting and the specific session,” says Davis, who is also president of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus. “Then step two is conveying that to the speaker. Some are better than others at pulling that information out, but it’s a two-way street.” 
For Peter Sheahan, founder of ChangeLabs, a global consulting firm focused on broad behavioral change, customizing each speech is a three-step process, beginning with finding out where the company is trying to move the group. 

“The typical answer: ‘We just want them inspired’ or ‘We just want them open to change’—is [not sufficient],” he adds. “Inspired to do what? Good speakers really push the client to say, ‘Here are the three things we want this group doing differently in the next 18 months.’ ”
Sheahan’s second stage is about finding common ground between his expertise and their needs. When a client is a good fit, he moves to the customization phase, in which he researches the industry. For Simon Mainwaring, a speaker and branding expert, this is also the time to select the eight or so appropriate case studies from the 300 he has built up. 
We asked some speakers bureaus for recommendations, focusing on potential keynoters who are hot right now, can address a wide variety of topics, and are dynamic speakers. Here are a dozen worth considering in 2012. 

Inspiration, Overcoming Obstacles 

Mark Kelly
Commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission in May 2011 and a highly decorated naval aviator and Gulf War veteran, Captain Mark Kelly and his wife, Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot by a would-be assassin in January, released a highly anticipated memoir of their inspiring story of hope and resilience on November 15. Kelly can share the same message of staying strong in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties, as well as valuable career lessons, with convention groups. Be sure to order books for Kelly to sign, or encourage attendees to purchase their own.(Undisclosed;
Topics: Military Leaders, Motivation/Inspiration, Astronauts, Leadership
Jeff Henderson
Born in a rough inner-city neighborhood, Chef Jeff Henderson turned his life around after emerging from a 10-year jail sentence at age 34. Embracing educational opportunities in prison, Henderson learned to cook, eventually becoming the first African-American executive chef at Caesars Palace and the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The author of a New York Times best-selling memoir and a hit Food Network host, Henderson talks about his journey from the streets to the stove; leadership lessons for executives with a diverse, urban workforce; and advice for climbing the corporate ladder. ($10,001-$20,000;
Topics: African-American Issues, Overcoming Adversity, Motivation/Inspiration, Education, Entrepreneurship, Diversity, Leadership on Campus, Teamwork, Poverty
Alison Levine
Born with a life-threatening heart condition, Levine captained the first American Women’s Everest Expedition on her way to conquering the Seven Summits (the highest mountains on each continent) and skiing to both poles. One of Keppler’s most frequently booked speakers this year, she is a guest professor of leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and president of DareDevil Strategies, specializing in organizational effectiveness and team dynamics. Levine also holds an MBA from Duke University. ($10,001-$20,000;
Topics: Adventure, Overcoming Adversity, Motivation/Inspiration, Women Today, Leadership, Volunteerism and Service Learning, Teamwork

Change, The Future of Business

Peter Diamandis
Diamandis is passionate about solving some of the world’s grand challenges. He is founder, chairman, and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, which spurred the creation of the first private space ships. In 2008, Diamandis co-founded Singularity University; he now serves as its chairman and vice-chancellor. He speaks dynamically and passionately, explaining how the rapid growth of key technologies is empowering individuals and companies to do what only governments were able to achieve in past decades. ($25,000-$30,000;
Topics: Innovation, Future, Science, Technology
Simon Mainwaring
Having worked on dozens of Fortune 500 brands for top advertising and digital agencies over two decades, Mainwaring is an expert on branding and social media and offers corporate executives and nonprofit leaders critical insights into how to capitalize on social media to build brand communities, increase profits, and create a positive impact. He is the master of distilling complex ideas down into simple, memorable communications and at engaging an audience on an emotional level. ($15,000-$20,000;
Topics: Branding, Social Media, E-commerce, Marketing
Peter Sheahan
Founder and CEO of ChangeLabs, a global consultancy building large-scale behavioral change projects that benefit both communities and the sponsoring brands, Sheahan has worked with companies ranging from Apple, Google, and IBM to Goldman Sachs, News Corp., and GlaxoSmithKline. He is the author of global best sellers Fl!p and Generation Y, as well as this year’s Making It Happen: Turning Good Ideas Into Great Results. ($15,000-$25,000;
Topics: Leadership, Management, Marketing/Branding, Retail, Workplace Issues, Teambuilding

Success in Business

Peter Guber
As founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, Peter Guber oversees a company with arms in the film, television, and professional sports industries. A master of telling a story, he has more then 30 years experience producing movies. Guber is responsible for massive hits like Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple, Gorillas in the Mist, The Witches of Eastwick, and Flashdance. He is a former chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures, a full professor at UCLA, and the author of the recently released book Tell to Win. Guber has seen and done it all in business and can speak on thriving in difficult times and the evolution of industries. ($30,000-$50,000;
Topics: Marketing, Motivation, Sales, Success, Leadership
Rick Horrow
A leading expert in the business of sports, Horrow is a regular commentator on television programs and a syndicated radio host (“FOX MoneyBall: The Cost of Winning”), as well as the architect of more than 100 deals for sports stadiums, arenas, racetracks, and other urban infrastructure worth more than $13 billion. He has worked on projects in two dozen cities, from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago to Denver, and international destinations such as Canada and Brazil, and with clients ranging from the major sports leagues to Cisco Systems. He brings unprecedented knowledge of and access to the business of sports in America. ($10,000-$15,000;
Topics: Sports, Business, Negotiation
Tim Sanders
Consultant and best-selling author Sanders (Love Is The Killer App, The Likeability Factor, and Saving The World At Work) was at ground zero of the dot-com boom and bust, working for Mark Cuban’s before becoming Yahoo’s chief solutions officer, where he became an advocate of programs focused on making a difference in the workplace. 

His latest book, 2011’s Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence, aims to help readers develop complete confidence in everything they do and instill a solutions-oriented, promise-keeping culture of highly confident and innovative people. ($15,000-$25,000;
Topics: Future of Business, Green Issues, Leadership, Marketing/Branding, Motivation/Inspiration
Current Affairs 
Jennifer Granholm
The well-respected governor of Michigan from 2002-2010, Granholm has been a federal prosecutor and state attorney general. Beginning in January, she will host a nightly prime-time political show on Al Gore’s Current TV channel. Granholm is senior advisor to The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School, and she serves on the board of directors of the Dow Chemical Co. ($20,001-$30,000;
Topics: Politics, Economy and Finance, Sustainability, Women’s Issues, Energy, Education, Healthcare Policy, Legal Issues, Volunteerism and Service Learning, Leadership
Robyn Meredith
A Hong Kong-based correspondent covering the Asia-Pacific region for Bloomberg Television, Meredith is a seasoned journalist with a decade of experience reporting on Asia and author of the New York Times best-seller The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us. She has covered Detroit for the New York Times and both Detroit and Asia for Forbes

With China a rising international force and Detroit reinventing itself as a green technology, defense, and medical hub, Meredith can expertly speak to dealing with changing market conditions and successful adaptation strategies. ($20,000-$25,000;
Topics: Economics, Global Affairs, China, International Business, Media/Broadcast/Print 

Frank Luntz
Lauded as far back as 1992, when Businessweek called him one of the“top research minds” of the presidential campaign, pollster Luntz has been a guest on virtually every major news program, from “Good Morning America” to “The Jim Lehrer News Hour,” as well as a go-to consultant for nearly a third of the Fortune 100. He is author of the New York Times best seller Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say it’s What People Hear and Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary, and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and George Washington University. ($15,000-$25,000;

Topics: Marketing/Branding, Politics, Government