Here are seven things every keynote speaker should know:
1.First impression lasts
Your first invitation as a keynote speaker will decide the impression you will leave to your audience. Of course, the reception from the audience will also determine if you are worth a second invitation or not. The first time is nerve-racking, but it is the most crucial starting point of your career. Keep your focus and take the stage like it is your last speaking engagement. Your motivation will tell you how far you can get in the public speaking arena.
2.The audience has short attention span
Write and deliver your speech like you are trying to sell a product over the phone. You only have an opening of a few seconds to catch your audience’s attention and interest, so make sure that you take the opportunity before their ears close completely. A boring start rarely takes off high in the end because once a “listener” yawns or talks to somebody else, it will be really hard to get his attention back no matter how interesting your topic is. Start with enthusiasm and be personal.
3.You are an extension of the organizers/sponsors
What you say should reflect the principles of the organizers. If the organizer is a non-profit organization with a certain advocacy, your speech should not go against that advocacy and instead, help promote it. As different topics will also be assigned to different speakers, your content should be on the same page as the others. If you disagree with their principles, do not accept the invitation. Otherwise, that is called hypocrisy.
4.The clock is ticking
You do not have the whole day, so stick with the schedule. Some speakers bask in the attention too much that they feel like they can talk no matter how long they want. However, a five-minute extension of your speech can already cost the organizers thousands of dollars for the venue and personnel. Return the favor and be sensitive. They invited you to the event, so be nice.
5.You are an authority
Maybe you are really not, but as the keynote speaker, you have to give that impression. The organizers are trying to establish an image by hiring you, so you have to stick with the role and deliver a well-researched speech. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not considered the most credible politician, but everybody listens when he talks because he talks with conviction (maybe it is the inner action star in him). Likewise, Sarah Palin is considered by many as a nuisance candidate despite being one of the most powerful women in America. Surprisingly, she is now one of the most in-demand speakers in the country.
6.Not everyone agrees with you
You cannot make everybody agree with you no matter how credible and experienced you are simply because everyone has his own opinion. Your speech aims to share your take on a certain issue backed by justifications and arguments. It does not aim to convince everybody in the event to adopt your own beliefs and throw theirs just because you are an expert. Do not be disheartened if you see people shaking their heads. The important thing is that you leave something for them to think about when they go home.
7.The event is not about you
As the keynote speaker, you are considered the most important speaker of the event. Yours is the most awaited part, but do not ever think that the event is all about you or has been organized for you. While a motivational speaker normally holds his own event, a keynote speaker is merely invited. At the end of the day, you should still remember rule number three – you are the extension of the organizers.
Excellent speaker selection is one of the most important elements in a successful meeting.