What is a Keynote Speaker?

We all think we know what a keynote speaker is, but there are certainly huge differences between individual speakers and even categories of keynote speakers.

Usually, a keynote speaker opens or closes an event or conference. Different conferences look for a speaker that will suit their audience’s needs and interests.

Inspirational, Motivational, or Topical?

Some speakers focus on motivation and inspiration, and can address any kind of audience. Others are more topical – they may specialize in sales, marketing, finance, etc., and can deliver content that is more relevant to a specific audience. Others focus on specific topics, say, coping with change.

There’s no right or wrong answer as to the type of keynote that will work for a particular group of people. The conference organizer has to consider the audience, whether they share the same needs and motivations, etc. to try to choose a speaker that will work for most or all of them.

My Keynote Philosophy

In my experience, purely inspirational keynote speakers don’t change their audience in 45 minutes. They can entertain, they can inspire, but these effects are short-lived. By the time conference attendees return home, they have few concrete benefits from that kind of speech.

I prefer to deliver keynotes that inspire the audience with a slightly different way of looking at things, but also incorporate real takeaways they can use when they get home. If a conference attendee brings back one really useful idea and acts on it, she will have justified the cost of attending. I try to deliver enough of these useful ideas in the course of an hour that everyone in the audience will find at least one or two they are excited about.

I plan to expand this page, but, for the moment, feel free to visit my speaking engagements page for more.