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What is a Keynote Speaker? Joel Garfinkle Explains

What Is A Keynote Speaker? The Key To Inspiring Your People!

What is a keynote speaker? He or she can be a lot of things, but over the past 20 years of delivering hundreds of such speeches, I’ve learned that there are five key ingredients to success if you want to deliver an excellent keynote address. Here’s how I deliver for my clients:

  1. I know my audience. You don’t just rely on a shelf full of canned, prepackaged topics. Instead, you customize every keynote speech to fit exactly what your audience is looking for. If you’re speaking to a trade association, you research that industry until you feel like you belong to it. Speak to the audience as though you’re one of them. They need to think and feel that you understand their problems, their needs, and what motivates them. If you’re speaking to a corporate audience, know their business, their competitors, and their internal structure. Be on their team.
  2. I know the meeting theme. Most conferences have a mission, a slogan, or a tag line that identifies the issues they are addressing during the meeting. Get in tune with that mission and weave your message around it. Spend time with the conference organizers, the meeting planners, and immerse yourself in what they are doing. Find out exactly what their expectations are, how to motivate their people, and be ready to deliver what they want, rather than what you think they should have.
  3. I know how to build rapport. If you know how to tell a good joke, use humor early on to connect with your audience. Timing is everything—if humor’s not your thing, don’t attempt to be funny. A good keynote speaker knows what his strengths are and uses them to connect with people. Ask questions—a show of hands focuses peoples’ attention on you. A short survey, given in advance or on the spot, lets them know you’re interested in what they think and you understand their challenges. Bring someone from the audience up on stage for a live interaction. And of course, ending with a Q and A is a great tool for audience involvement.
  4. I know how to hold their attention. Usually, you’ll have about 45 minutes to deliver your keynote address. Sitting through 45 minutes of just listening, unless you have superstar stage presence, can bore even the most receptive audience. Visuals are a great tool to hold peoples’ interest. Whether you use PowerPoint slides, videos, or draw diagrams on a white board, the more you can involve both hearing and seeing, the stronger your message will be. Whatever techniques you choose, always give people tools and techniques they can use immediately.
  5. I know my position. Depending on the format of the meeting or conference, the keynote may be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. It’s important for you to know exactly where you are. If you’re at the beginning, you’ll be setting the tone for the entire conference. If you’re in the middle, you need to know what has already happened, so you can tie into it and motivate people to keep moving ahead. And if you’re at the end, of course, you’re wrapping everything up into a nice package that assures people will be leaving on a high note.

These are the principles I’ve lived by for the past 20 years. The companies and groups I work with know what they are looking for in a keynote speaker. They know they can count on me to deliver excellence in every situation.

If you’re looking for an experienced, dynamic, motivational speaker to keynote your next meeting or conference, Joel knows how to meet your needs. With Joel as your keynote, your next meeting will be both motivational and memorable.

Copyright © 2012 Joel Garfinkle, All Rights Reserved. Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S., and the author of 7 books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. He has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Deloitte, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton, Gap, Cisco, Oracle, and many more. Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter and receive the FREE e-book, "41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!"

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