If you do any sort of event planning work, you’re likely familiar with the task of selecting and hiring a keynote speaker. Speakers are vital to any successful event that brings professionals together in an informative, networking environment.
The best keynote speeches motivate the audience, inspiring them around a common theme or purpose. Your keynote speaker’s message should align with your organization’s vision and goals for the event. The keynote address sets your event’s tone, so it’s important to find the right person to deliver it.
Here are some of the traits that many of the best keynote speakers share:
- An understanding of the event’s overall purpose. It may seem like this should be obvious, but too often keynote speakers are more interested in using their speech to sell themselves and their brand, rather than contributing to the overall vision for your specific conference or event. Make sure you select a speaker who’s bought into your goals and purpose, and who is more interested in contributing to that vision than in selling him or herself to the audience.
- A firm belief in your event and your organization. It’s important to hire a keynote speaker who not only understands your organization’s goals, but also really believes in them. This quality can make working with your speaker much easier from start to finish. For example, when a speaker really believes in an event, he or she is more likely to take an active role in promoting it through social media channels – and keynote speakers are often great influencers for marketing. A speaker who is genuinely excited about your event may also be willing to participate in other ways, such as contributing ideas to planning or participating in a separate panel session.
- A strong focus on your attendees’ needs and interests. The best keynote speakers understand the best way to approach their audience. Great speakers can expertly set up a positive rapport with their audience while also making their credibility clear, which gives the message of their speech and of your event more power and clarity. A good keynote speaker will show a willingness to work closely with your organization to ensure he or she thoroughly understands the best way to connect with your attendees.
- An understanding of the importance of entertainment. Humor is often a central ingredient in many successful keynote speeches, and a good speaker can use humor effectively, without going overboard or letting jokes fall flat. The best speakers strike a perfect balance in their tone, between entertaining and informative.
- Real stories that make the speech personal. The best keynote speakers understand they need to develop a solid relationship with their audience – for at least as long as their speech lasts. By using real stories and personal anecdotes and observations, a good speaker gains the trust of the audience, helping them connect to the message on a personal level.
- A call to action that crystallizes the message. Your event attendees should be leaving the speaker’s session – and your event – with a few concrete, actionable ideas. It’s up to your keynote speaker to inspire your audience not just with his or her ideas, but also with ways to turn those thoughts into action.