Anytime that organizations need to bring in an outside expert to deliver a keynote address, inspire audiences or share valuable insights, they engage the services of a professional speaker. But what exactly is someone who speaks for a living called?

The most common titles and descriptions for those who speak publicly as their primary profession include:

Keynote Speaker
This is one of the most widely used terms to describe prominent speakers hired to deliver a keynote speech or presentation at major corporate events, conferences and functions. Keynote speakers are typically recognized experts, thought leaders or accomplished personalities whose speeches help set the overarching tone and key themes for an event.

Featured Speaker
Conferences and events with multiple presenters will often have a “featured speaker” slot reserved for high-profile individuals who are intended to be a main draw for attendees. Featured speakers help generate excitement and interest in the event itself.

Guest Speaker
Organizations will frequently invite “guest speakers” who are external to their company to share expertise, perspectives and ideas with their employees or members. Guest speakers add variety and dimension that internal speakers may not be able to provide.

Professional Speaker
This general term refers to those who make public speaking their primary occupation and source of income. Professional speakers build their careers by developing keynotes, training seminars and other speaking engagements for corporate audiences.

Motivational Speaker
This type of speaker specializes in delivering high-energy talks designed to excite, inspire and motivate listeners to take action or adopt new mindsets. Motivational speakers are hired to instill passion and give audiences a mental and emotional boost.

Subject Matter Expert Speaker
For events requiring deep technical or industry knowledge on a specific topic, a subject matter expert speaker is often engaged. Whether it’s finance, technology, healthcare or other verticals, these speakers leverage their extensive domain expertise.

Thought Leader Speaker
These speakers are preeminent thinkers and visionaries in their respective fields. As authors, academics or influential figures, thought leader speakers aim to share groundbreaking ideas, frameworks and insights that shift mindsets.

While the specific terminology may vary slightly, the goal of any professional speaker is to leave a lasting impact on audiences. By sharing their wisdom, research and life experiences through powerful oration, professional speakers educate, entertain and impart takeaways audiences can act on long after the speaking engagement concludes.