6 Tips for a Keynote Speaker

As you rise to high levels of leadership in your community, you are bound to be invited as a keynote speaker to highlight some important occasion. You could be the keynote speaker or the guest of honor. This “career progression” is inevitable. It’s going to happen to you some day. You will be most likely selected due to your popularity and / or achievements. Your profession or nature of accomplishment must have been in some way related to the occasion in order for you to be invited.

Regardless of the reason, know that you were invited because your community had held you in a high level of admiration or respect. To leave a long lasting impression on the audience, you need to improvise methods to keep their attention glued to you.

  • TED's secret to great public speaking | Chris Anderson
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    TED's secret to great public speaking | Chris Anderson
The good news is, by virtue of their respect for you, they will, to a certain extent give you their full attention anyway. However, you can’t take things for granted & expect them to be attentive towards you throughout your entire speech. It is said that with each year of a person’s age, his attention span will grow by one minute. Therefore, theoretically speaking, 15 years old kids will generally start to lose their concentration after 15 minutes if you do nothing about it. It’s also said that after 20 minutes, regardless of the age of the person, this growth in attention span starts to taper out.

Therefore, if you are the invited guest speaker of an event, the suggestions below may help to keep your audience listening instead of mentally “tuning out.”

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Keynote Speaker Tip 1

Speak in a clear, crisp & comprehensible voice with an enthusiastic tone. The audience must feel the essence of your emotions through your enthusiasm. Avoid mumbling. Try not to swallow your words as if there’s a gum in your mouth. In order for you to know whether you are guilty of any of the above, make an audio recording of your speech using your mobile phone. Pass this recording to a friend in order to get an (hopefully) unbiased opinion about your speech.

Keynote Speaker Tip 2

Your speech should be congruent with the purpose of the gathering, touching on issues relevant to its objective and applicable to the current needs of the audience. This would certainly require you to do some homework prior to attending the event. If you are a member of a Toastmasters Club, you could do a test run of your speech there & get unbiased feedback from the qualified evaluators. If you are not a Toastmaster yet, it’s about time you became one today.

Keynote Speaker Tip 3

Incorporate humor into your presentation to keep the audience alert. Studies reveal that, when humor is used, audiences find the speaker interesting to listen to. A note of caution though. Your humor must be relevant to the subject matter. Only then it will look natural & be meaningful. Try your best to use humor to reinforce your message rather that to use it simply to make people laugh. Remember, this is not a stand-up comedy session. This is a keynote address.

Keynote Speaker Tip 4

When you raise an issue, a suggested way to project it is by citing instances or examples. Correlate the example and the issue clearly. You could follow the following structure which goes by the acronym P.R.E.P.
P – Point. State your point.
R – Reason. State your reason.
E – Example. State an example.
P – Point. State your point once more.

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Keynote Speaker Tip 5

As a keynote speaker or guest of honour, you will be most likely required to deliver an inspiring / motivational speech. Therefore, strive to deliver a speech filled with positive thoughts like forecasting a bright tomorrow. You have the power to turn a depressive atmosphere into an enthusiastic one. If you are well versed with the industry & have a good proposal to make, then say it. In the process of suggesting your proposal, plant the image in the minds of the audience as to how the industry will look like 5 or 10 years from now. Plant the image of positivity. Be specific and realistic in your projection. If hard work is required, say so. Sometimes, it pays to call a spade a spade 🙂

Keynote Speaker Tip 6

Leave a lasting, meaningful message as you conclude your speech. In order to do this effectively, try to end your speech with a personal story that reinforces your message. Personal stories have a queer way of lingering in the minds of people long after the speech is over. Such speeches will also leave the audience remembering you for a loooooooooong time…

All the best to you in your next keynote address. Remember, it was no accident that you were selected as guest of honour. It was meant to be…

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All the best to you in all facets of your life 🙂