An invitation to deliver a keynote address is a tremendous honor to virtually any speaker, from a seasoned professional to someone with little or no professional speaking resume. It symbolizes a perception that an individual’s achievements and reputation are synonymous with some set of overarching progressive goals and principles passionately valued by a like-minded organization. Simply having one’s presence requested in such a capacity can significantly validate the values a speaker strives to inspire belief in by conveying the message, “You wield the influence to light an uncommon fire beneath both strangers and your peers alike. You could lead us to a turning point. Will you help us?”
Your keynote address will be remembered as your event’s defining moment, a talk that encapsulates everything you intended to accomplish within a single gather. Before engaging a speaker, carefully ask yourself, “What do I want this rallying speech to say for me and the people I represent by extending this invitation?”
If your occasion calls for a speaker who infuses every word with the kind of captivating personality that holds the audience’s interest and attention hostage from the instant they take the stage, look to a ‘kickstart’ personality. You and your attendees will instantly feel a personal connection and thrall running through every word, because these immensely talented professionals thrive on intuitively reaching out to audiences through trustworthy personas, emotion and logic. Prepare to be moved down to your most fundamental fiber.
Wherever your organization is headed, you will find something worth gaining in the words of someone who has already been ‘there’, wherever that may be. The most celebrated inspirational speakers reach right into the hearts and souls of each audience member and sow the time-tested seeds of lessons learned from numerous personal adversities overcome against daunting odds. These are the motivators to whom you should turn when you need the people around you to steadfastly believe, “If this person could survive those setbacks, we can do anything.”
Knowledge is power, but it tends to be wasted when not imparted unto others. Educational speakers thrive on seminar and workshop stages where they can pontificate on a wealth of informative, exciting subjects and make every anecdote, factoid or debate unforgettably entertaining. That being said, be advised that your chosen setting will no doubt determine whether this type of guest lecturer bombs dramatically or stands as the highlight of your event. Take your speaker’s contrast with the surrounding atmosphere carefully into account.
Lasting success in the business world accrues, virtually without exception, on a foundation of lessons learned the hard way. When you consider just how many more companies fail spectacularly than succeed beyond their founders’ wildest dreams, it doesn’t take much scrutiny to see and understand the singular lessons only hard-fought success can teach. Among them, your audience is bound to learn how to look back on their hardest times, shake their heads in amazement and laugh at the leanest days after putting miles of struggle behind them. If nothing else, there’s nothing hearing an entrepreneur remind an audience that there are times to persevere along a plotted course, times to pivot rooted toward a new path based on you have learned so far and moments in which we deliberate carefully over what each choice holds at stake.
These seasoned, highly educated speakers often cultivate their followings as speakers based first on a distinguished list of certifications, degrees or licenses in specific fields of study. The best can and will vindicate the depth and breadth of their expertise by delivering highly insightful talks centered on their areas of expertise ranging vastly farther in detail than the majority of their peers. A keynote address from a seasoned, honored expert is almost always a requisite element of any complete training, workshop or seminar.
More often than not, a sponsor’s keynote advances some fairly transparent marketing agenda. To be perfectly honest, that’s why a speech from an organization’s CEO or vice-president of marketing is often seen by the audience as more of a considerately provided opportune window for checking email than a spark to ignite a revolution. It makes a certain degree of sense for the group that made the event possible to ask for a moment of valuable face time before a captive audience. Besides, some of these executives turn out to be phenomenally bright, charismatic speakers in their own right. Unfortunately, it is altogether too easy for attendees to cynically dismiss their presence as little more than a neatly interpolated plug for certain products and services.
Much like an accomplished inspirational speaker, a motivational speaker conjures wellsprings of enthusiasm in an audience by imparting stories rooted in pivotal life experiences, priceless knowledge and/or extensive education. They rejuvenate every attendee’s self-esteem and enthusiasm for the organizations they serve. If you want to fill your conference or business convention with some desperately needed humor and optimism toward a shared objective, look no further.
It doesn’t matter how grave your organization’s situation may be or how vital your immediate objectives are to growth and success beyond your wildest dreams. Nobody wins with a consummate white-knuckle intensity running through every moment of every day. A little levity strengthens bonds between colleagues by reminding everyone, “If you don’t laugh, you eventually cry.” A more lighthearted speaker can prove with a single quip that every success comes with moments destined to inspire chuckles when seen in the rearview mirror. After all, something is drastically wrong if your passion never brings a smile to your lips.
Think of every positive quality listed above that an outstanding keynote speaker can lend an impassioned address. Now, envision all that substance with the intrigue and glamour of an immediately recognizable celebrity. That’s exactly why famous faces are always in so much demand for marquee promotional events. A renowned figure from the world of the arts, professional sports, politics or the media can put butts in seats with name value alone.
As is the case with humorous speakers and celebrity guests, electrifying entertainers virtually always offer a needed momentary break from an air of laser-like focus and professional decorum. As keynote speakers, pure entertainers such as comedians, mentalists, sketch troupes, mentalists, variety acts and the like can keep an audience hooked into a dinner or banquet, party, general session or any other special event by inserting a timely moment for everyone to breathe and disengage their brains for a minute.
Although adept at educating and motivating an audience, seminar leaders provide the most conversational, inviting keynote address within a longer format anywhere from one to three hours that accommodates plenty of interaction with attendees. Expect handouts, slides and overhead projections that eschew drama and bombast in favor of digestible, concrete takeaway thinking points. These speakers typically rank among the most respected experts versed in a specific subject.
If you expect a smaller audience in a more intimate setting, look to a reputable workshop facilitator to construct a program rife with immersive individual attention. Like a seasoned school teacher, these speakers instigate enthusiastic participation among attendees by offering personal guidance replete with new knowledge, skills and enhanced understanding. Your keynote will include plenty of simulations, exercises and activities that deepen learning through ample hands-on involvement.
Much like a workshop facilitator, trainers hone valuable skills through personal involvement and practical exercises. Organizations often approach these speakers to instruct employees at their home facilities more often than they approach them to provide instruction at a convention or meeting.
Experts with a wealth of expertise and sterling reputations within a specific field transition into public speaking, though not all necessary become ‘professional’ speakers. Since their wisdom is usually valued most among a fairly narrow audience, they choose to give back to their peers by accepting invitations to deliver keynote speeches or seminars based on particularly relevant information they have to offer. For instance, a longtime successful real estate professional might impart stories of noteworthy successes, time-tested sales secrets or strategies for better leveraging emerging technology to drive showings.
Approach ‘practitioner’ keynote speakers with a certain caution. Whatever the industry or subject, they tend to stick to what they know best: extremely specific experiences. Attendees are not likely to take away broadly adaptable strategies, but industrious listeners may be able to reverse-engineer the speaker’s anecdotes to recover inferred problem-solving methodologies they can test and adapt to suit their own needs within other scenarios. Many practitioners demonstrate their lack of experience addressing sizable groups by relying excessively on complex, confusing visual aids and failing to mindfully project their speaking voices to be clearly heard in the farthest reaches of a venue. What your peers get out of these ultra-detailed case studies will no doubt depend more on how creatively they themselves evaluate and analyze what they just heard.
Professional / Thought Leader
Finally, there are professionals and thought leaders, each with their own pros and cons to bring to the table. The former class makes a living rallying crowds to action. They will pack a talk with an inimitable enthusiasm perfected through hours sharpening and customizing their presentation. They can hold an audience in the palms of their hands, and that is exactly why they add so much to an event’s overall cost. Then again, the ROI from hiring a seasoned professional speaker often comes down the road in the form of bolstering word-of-mouth recommendations for your next event’s registration. Meanwhile, thought leaders ordinarily don’t have a great deal of personal stake in the event but will offer unusual sources of wisdom not often found anywhere else. When you want to set your organization apart through its goals, you sometimes have no choice but to part from conventional schools of thought. Turn to these outside-the-box minds when you need to zoom out to a ‘big picture’ perspective.
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