What is a keynote speaker? The keynote speaker sets the “pitch” for a seminar, convention, or technical meeting, just as the oboe (the instrument least affected by ambient conditions) sets the pitch for tuning an orchestra. Success depends on organizational and audience expectations, as well as the availability of your preferred keynote speaker.
Essentially, the keynote speaker makes the audience look at something in a way they may never have done before. Some keynote speakers are able to do this based on specific personal experience, while others are known for looking at topics from unusual perspectives. A successful keynote speech is about leaving the audience invigorated and inspired to make the most of the other information they’ll encounter during the event.
What Makes a Great Keynote Speaker?
The exceptional keynote speaker is comfortable with himself or herself, and this comes across as having credibility and having both feet on the ground. An audience should feel as if the keynote speaker is speaking to them as if they were friends or family. Outstanding keynote speakers understand the tension that exists whenever someone goes on stage, and they diffuse that tension through a sense of connectedness with the audience, often with humor interwoven. And although a keynote speaker has to be comfortable being the center of attention, the best ones listen and interact, whether during a post-speech Q and A session or when talking to attendees informally afterward.
What Should You Not Expect from Your Keynote Speaker?
If an organization with serious problems expects a keynote speaker to come in and miraculously heal everything that has gone wrong, disappointment is certain. However, a good keynote speech can be a powerful vehicle for delivering new ideas and inspiration, and this can nudge an organization toward taking real steps to address problems. Also, keynote speeches aren’t where you’ll get detailed strategies or plans. Generally at an annual meeting or technical conference, participants get the granular details from other speakers, while they take in an overarching perspective from the keynote speaker.
Finding and Booking Your Keynote Speaker
When selecting and booking a keynote speaker, ideally the event host, meeting planner, and speaker should discuss and agree upon the purpose of the keynote speech. A good keynote speaker knows which questions to ask you in order to know whether he or she is a good fit and exactly how to tailor the keynote speech to engage the audience fully.
If you want to book a keynote speaker who is in high demand, you may need to be prepared to be flexible about when the keynote speech will take place. Though traditionally delivered at the launch of an event, people are now comfortable with keynote speeches that take place at other times. With the right build-up and information campaign, a keynote speech can be effective whenever it’s scheduled.
Generate Buzz Before the Big Event
Your organization and your audience will get more from your keynote speaker if you set the conditions for “buzz” to develop around the speech. If you can get your keynote speaker to do an interview by email for your website or blog, or even an in-person interview for your YouTube channel, you’ll elevate your event status while raising the profile of your organization. Strategic social media posts about the keynote speech can be remarkably effective as well. You can continue the buzz after the event by sharing photos from it. Ultimately, this can boost your web traffic and social media presence as well.
Are Keynote Speakers Worth the Effort and Cost?
The right keynote speaker takes his or her audience on a journey that is both intellectually and emotionally resonant. People are social creatures, and they take action when inspired, so a great keynote speaker can definitely have a positive effect. This is particularly true for the keynote speaker who can use the force of his or her personality to deliver information that the typical speaker may find too challenging to deliver. When people see the keynote speaker taking the stage, they naturally grant that person temporary authority and let them into their heads. The right keynote speaker knows how to use this temporary authority optimally.
I take the responsibility that comes along with being a keynote speaker seriously. It’s something I love doing, and I would be happy to talk with you about whether I’m the right speaker for your event. Please feel free to get in touch to check out my speaking availability. I would be delighted to answer any questions you may have.