Keynote talks are really important. They set the mood for a conference: they should be relevant to the audience and well delivered and at a good pace without being rushed. A great keynote makes the audience really think: there should be new ideas and observations and something to refer to.
I get asked to deliver keynotes at a number of conferences, large and small. I do not deliver a standard keynote (amazingly some speakers seem to have a stock talk) but I do tend to start with the simple question:
“What do you want the audience to feel or do at the end of the keynote”. This is different from “what do you want me to talk about” and, in my opinion, makes the difference between a good and a great keynote.
Once you understand what it is that you want your audience to learn from the keynote, I can create something bespoke that will meet your specific needs. There’s no feeling quite like leaving the stage to a standing ovation, knowing that you’ve left the audience enthused, inspired and hungry for more!
Feelings afterwards – range from “I’ve learned something really new which I can put into practice right now” through to “OK, I’m going to make some real changes..” are sometimes difficult to identify. But that’s what i find makes the difference. I guess it’s about planning and preparation. Remember, the salary cost of the audience will usually vastly outweigh the cost of the keynote speaker – and it is really important to obtain real value for money when involving such an expensive audience.
Some of the key things to consider when planning a keynote are:
– What is the intention of the keynote: inspiration, information, material, enjoyment
– Who are the audience: what are their needs and concerns: what areas of the business are they in, what can they do
– What venue has been organised (venues and infrastructure make a huge difference: what’s the technology, what are the ceiling heights, what’s the catering and where are the loos)
– What speakers have you had before, and what was said about them – afterwards (and I do not mean a few hours, but rather a few days)