How to wow the audience: what makes a keynote good?

Mar 13, 2019 | News

The elusive question: what is good? There is nothing more impossible to pin down, and yet nothing more important to improve yourself and your keynotes. Here is our first message: there is no one way to deliver a good keynote to your audience. There are, however, things that can easily lift your speech from mediocre to good, and from good to great.

In this blog post Speakersbase will be diving into some elements of keynotes and speeches we have found to be the most effective in improving a keynote. These are just four tips, and we have many more, so make sure to follow the hashtag #publicspeakingtips on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook!

1. Just a messenger

We loved this post by Inc.com that discusses the understanding that the keynote is not about you. It is about the audience. What will they take away from your speech? What will they learn? Once you start focusing on them rather than yourself, you’ve come a step closer to being a great public speaker. It really helps you to relax too.

When planning a keynote, make sure to remember the audience

As a public speaker you might acquire fame, but only if you understand that it is not about you. You are just the messenger. To be a great public speaker, you will need to make it all about the message. All your practicing and hard work is about improving the messenger in order to have the message stand out more.

2. All about dialogue

Focus on the dialogue, not your monologue. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it is the best way to ensure the audience will take your message home with them. When you understand what your audience needs from you, you’ll deliver a speech that is more focused and more relevant. Doing your research about the event and the attending audience will help you with your angle when writing your speech. Additionally, you will find it easier to establish trust and understanding, leading to dialogue. Meaningful conversation with the audience might not be an easy feat, but what a feat it is. What a thing of beauty when a public speaker establishes trust and listens. Hear what is not being said and listen to that message. It is what is truly essential.

Another very important point here is to never assume everyone is equally prepared for the conversation! Check in with them if they are using the same terms as you are using, if they are aware of all technological developments you mention and what focus they are expecting. Again, this issue can be resolved fairly easy by simply asking the event organizer. Especially what they expect and want from your keynote. Your preparation is what will make you stand out more!

3. Authenticity

The time of trusting slick and smooth sales people has long passed. In a world where everyone is showing their best, most beautiful, and most motivated self through social media, people crave authenticity more than ever. Be authentic and transparent. Only your true self is worth listening to.

To be authentic and show that to the audience, you should not be thinking over every word and slide. While the presentation is going on, that is, so preparation is key. Only when you have total control and insight in what you are teaching, you will be able to divert from your slides where needed. By being able to improvise when it feels right, you will be able to give the audience what they really need. See how that circled beck? Another plus, not needing note cards makes you look extra professional and confident. Or do like Steve Jobs, and tuck your note cards behind the monitor you are using.

4. Listen to your client

Your client will often ask you to incorporate certain things and elements into your keynote. Usually data, but it could be anything. There is a chance here to customize your keynote a little and to make it more relevant for your audience. Grasp this chance! As said before, improvisation is a virtue, but being prepared within that improvisation is even better. What you want is to become a better public speaker, so make sure you know what the public wants.

Always keep in mind what the event organizer is trying to accomplish. Bring awareness? Give new insights to the attendees? Start a conversation? Do not give a sales pitch when you are not specifically asked to do so. There is nothing more frustrating for an event organizer than a public speaker who does not do as was agreed. And when your event organizer is happy with you and you work, you gain possible future speaking arrangements.

To summarize, remember that you are just a messenger, listen to what the audience wants from attending this keynote, show your true self to enhance your connection with the attendees, and listen to the wishes of your client. You will make a positive impact and might even get a new speaking gig out of this one!

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