10 Keys to Killer Keynotes

10 Keys to killer keynotes

10 Keys to Killer Keynotes

Create a high-impact, memorable keynote.

Whether public speaking is your forte or biggest fear, these 10 tips will up your game!

1. Identify your keynote’s purpose

In other words, what’s your goal? Share expertise? Outline a plan? Change a common perception? Know your keynote’s purpose and refer to it as you build your presentation. Everything you say should serve your purpose.

2. Envision what you want your audience to think, feel and do

Your audience members rouse from a late night and prepare for another day of workshops and speeches. As they savor that first cup of coffee, the fog clears from their mind and your keynote floats in to focus.

  • What do they think? Did they learn a new approach or process? Did they change their mind about a topic? Are they better informed about business trends, products or services? Do they now know how to get from point A to point B?
  • What do they feel? Are they inspired to progress to the next step? Are they excited about the future of your industry? Do they feel a sense of urgency to make changes within their own organization to remain competitive?  What is the emotional reaction you want your audience to feel?
  • Finally, what are they going to do with your message? What actions will they take? What meetings will they set up? How will they effect change based on your message?

3. Get to work immediately

Don’t put off this keynote another moment!

  • Outline, develop and simplify your message.
  • Revise, massage and evolve your speech.
  • Identify stories or examples that land your points.
  • Create or purchase the visuals to help the audience “see” your message.
  • Solicit feedback from at least one other person in your organization who can help identify gaps, point out assumptions or flag inaccuracies.
  • Practice your speech at least 20 times (according to Guy Kawasaki) before you’re ready to deliver to a live audience.

4. Set a theme

Keynotes that make an impression have a theme. A theme is a common thread that connects your points. It can materialize in your visuals, word choice and use of metaphor. A theme contextualizes your message and helps people connect the dots easily.

5. Craft the introduction

Your audience is eager to hear your message. Customize it to engage this audience at this moment in time. Whether it’s a speech you’ve given a hundred times, or if it’s the first time you’re delivering it, be sure to include a timely, relevant introduction. This could be an article you read that morning or a relevant story that underscores the importance of your topic. The introduction is the most critical section of your keynote, so give it due attention.

6. Use humor

This is a proven technique for connecting with an audience. Humor breaks the ice, and eases tension around controversial topics.

7. Pace your speech

Vary your cadence. For example, include moments where the audience can relax and listen, and moments where you bring them to the edge of their seats with a bold, energized statements. Pause when you want a point to sink in. By mixing up the pace, you maintain attention.

8. Keep it simple

You may know this topic better than anyone else, but your audience doesn’t need to know it all. They just need to know why they should care. Keep it simple. Deliver up to three key messages. Any more and you risk confusing or overwhelming your audience.

9. Be sincere

People may not remember every detail of your speech, but they will remember your conviction. Your sincerity will come through more than your originality, research and story-telling ability. Sincerity garners trust.

10. Have a strong call to action

Be very specific about what you want the audience to do next. Ideally this one request – not a laundry list.

There are many perspectives and research conducted about what makes a good speech. We’d love to hear your ideas on giving a killer keynote!

Want some help crafting your keynote? We’d love to help.  Contact us!



Tiffanny Brooks

Senior Director // tiffanny@zumcom.com