Keynote Speakers

Written by Christopher Ransom
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Keynote speakers can bring more than just a sense of professionalism to an event. They can also draw a crowd. If a keynote speaker is well known and respected, people may go out of their way to make sure they attend your event. On the other hand, if a keynote speaker is not well known but does a fantastic job, then people will walk away satisfied and will want to tell others how much they enjoyed the speech. The key (pun intended) to successful keynote speakers is to ensure they are not just knowledgeable about the subject but are also enthusiastic and enjoy working with an audience.

Keynote speakers are ubiquitous to conferences and tradeshows, thus providing attendees with a legitimate reason for their boss to spend the money to send them there, and exhibitors with a reason to spend the money to be there (e.g., selling to the attendees who are there to see the speakers). In a good event, everyone walks away happy. The company that hired the keynote speaker has an opportunity to sell something (hopefully in a non-intrusive way), the audience has learned something, and the speaker has gathered more ammo for his or her resume.

What Makes a Good Keynote Speaker?

Keynote speakers should have a sterling resume and a depth of experience. After all, they are key because of their relevance and accomplishments. They have knowledge to share, in a way that interests other people. That being said, it's a good idea to take what's laid out on the resume with a grain of salt. Just because someone has started his own company or written a book does not guarantee that he can be a crowd-pleasing keynote speaker. There have been plenty of famous and very knowledgeable people who simply can't put a concept into easily understood words or, gulp, cannot get in front of people without getting a shaky voice. Likewise, people who are great entertainers in front of a camera with a good television script in their hand may not do a very good job of giving the audience insight on a particular subject.

Truly effective keynote speakers have almost always turned speaking into a second or even first job, having practiced as hard as anyone else would to become a professional. If they are truly able to get an audience excited and interested in their topic, they are part of a somewhat elite group that dominates the market, and with good reason. They have earned the right to charge money for their speaking, just as the CEO who started a billion dollar company earned the right to have a company parking spot.

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