How to be a Great Keynote Speaker?

Keynote speakers have a lot on their shoulders. Unlike standard conference presentations, a keynote speech can be a significant draw for an event and often sets the mood for what's to follow. Being one of the first (if not the first) on the schedule means you bear the weight of audience expectations. Moreover, delivering a keynote speech is a remarkable marketing opportunity, making it vital that you perform at your best.


Creating the perfect keynote speech


If you aim to join the ranks of exceptional keynote speakers, you'll need to start with compelling content. Here are some key elements you must focus on to prepare a memorable keynote speech.


  • Know your audience inside out - Understanding your audience's needs and expectations is vital. Tailor your speech to address questions they may have or offer insights that directly affect them. For instance, if discussing new regulations, explain how these will benefit or impact the listeners specifically.


  • Clarify your keynote's purpose - Every impactful keynote speech has a well-defined objective. Being clear about what you wish to accomplish will guide your preparations. Keep a note of your main intent within sight as you work on your speech and use it as your compass.


  • Keep your message crystal clear - Simplicity is golden. Ensure that your audience leaves the room with clear takeaways from your speech. A convoluted message can easily get lost in translation, leading your audience to leave the room feeling confused rather than enlightened.

    To prevent this, focus on two to three major points you want your audience to remember. Ask a friend or colleague to listen and then relay back what they think are the core messages. If their takeaways align with your intended messages, you've nailed it. If not, refine your speech for greater clarity.

    Once you have a clear message, use anecdotes, data, or quotes to back up each point, but always circle back to the main messages. Think of your speech as a tree: each supporting point is a branch, but all branches should lead back to the trunk, your core message. This approach will help your audience leave with a clear understanding of what you wanted to convey, making your speech all the more memorable.


Pitfalls keynote speakers should avoid


  • Ditch the dullness - A boring speech is a cardinal sin for keynote speakers. Transform an average talk into an extraordinary keynote by putting in the required preparation time.


  • Skip the formality - Conversational language keeps the audience engaged. Aim for simplicity in your language and structure.


  • Avoid blatant sales pitches - Keynote speeches that come off as sales-like are often poorly received. Focus on showcasing your skills and expertise instead.


  • Less is often more - Overloading your speech with information can confuse the audience. Aim for a focused, concise message.


  • Speak, don't write - A speech should be written for the ear, not the eye. A public speaking coach or a speech writer can help you achieve this.


  • PowerPoints are not essential - While visual aids like PowerPoint slides can be helpful, they should never overshadow the content and delivery of your speech. Remember, you are the focal point, not the slides behind you. Jody Urquhart serves as an excellent example of this principle in action. She engages her audience primarily through words, her tone and body language, and not by just clicking through slides.


Tips for delivering your keynote


  • Amplify your voice - Projection is key. Vary your tone and pace to engage the audience effectively.


  • Use pauses wisely - Strategic pauses can enhance the power of your message. Silence can make a significant difference.


  • Command the stage - Appear confident through your body language and eye contact. This can be learned and practiced.


  • Dress for success - Align your appearance with your message for a cohesive impression.


  • Practise makes perfect - The distinction between good and great keynote speakers often lies in the amount of practice they put in. Your speech should continually evolve up until the final moment.


Book Jody Urquhart - One of Canada's leading keynote speakers


Are you looking for a seasoned keynote speaker who combines expertise, entertainment, and exceptional audience engagement? Look no further than Jody Urquhart. She'll not only meet your expectations but exceed them. Contact us today to book her for your next event and guarantee its success.

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