What Makes a Great Keynote?

What should organizations look for in a Keynote Speaker? As a frequent conference presenter, I am always looking for ways to distinguish myself from my peers, especially as a concurrent presenter looking to continue to progress to keynote sessions. We have identified five qualities keynote speakers must have in order to be successful:

  • High-Energy – Keynotes usually kick off a conference or end a conference; in these time slots, you need a presenter that energizes the entire group and gets them excited about what’s to come or what has been heard. It has to have a fun, invigorating feel and make the audience leave excited and enlightened.
  • Entertaining – Keynotes must be extremely entertaining and fun and excite and energize the room and all attendees. They must connect the audience with the overall message.
  • Engaging – Keynotes have to engage the audience and converse with them, not to them. Get them involved in the conversation, make them emotionally connect to the message. The more engaging, the more the audience will feel the message and connect with each person on a personal level.
  • Message/Material must applies to EVERYONE in an Audience: Keynotes have to be able to connect with everyone in the audience and must a message that is universal.
  • Unique – Finally, a very important trait that is usually not pointed out is the uniqueness of the presenter. Keynotes need to differentiate themselves from the pack; it might be as simple as a different way to think or that they dress differently or do not use a microphone or podium…whatever the trait, it needs to stick out and be remembered.

A few months back, I had the great pleasure of attending a fundraiser that ex-Chief of Dallas Police David Brown spoke. I assumed he would connect the audience with the attacks on Dallas in July 2016 and how he graciously handled these events. I was completely surprised when this was never mentioned and he told a wonderful story from his youth and connected the whole room with his message. It was a truly excellent presentation and his speech exemplified all of the qualities outlined above. What else is necessary to make a great keynote presentation?

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