What is a Keynote Speaker and Why Are They Important? A well-chosen keynote speaker can enhance the reputation and credibility of the event.

By Ryan Avery

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the most common questions we all get asked is, "What do you do?". This question is one that most people use to start a conversation, get information out of people or simply ask because that is whatever else asks when first meeting people.

When people ask me this question, I say I deliver keynotes at conferences, and they usually look at me with a blank stare. So, today I thought I would share what keynote speakers do, why keynote speakers are important to events and their roles, as it is more than simply speaking and sharing a cool story that gets people to laugh.

The term "keynote" comes from the musical tradition of having a note played before a performance to set the pitch and tone for the rest of the music. As the name suggests, a keynote speaker is a speaker who delivers a keynote speech at an event or conference. This is typically the main speech of the event, designed to set the tone, engage the audience and provide a framework for the rest of the event.

Keynote speakers are often experts in their field, and they are chosen for their ability to deliver compelling, insightful and inspiring speeches that leave a lasting impression on their audience.

Related: 8 Master Tips on How to Get Paid for Public Speaking

Why are keynote speakers important?

Keynote speakers are important for several reasons. First, they provide a clear and compelling message that sets the tone for the rest of the event. This is particularly important for conferences or events with multiple speakers or sessions, as the keynote speech can help attendees understand the overarching theme and goals of the event. Some of the most popular topics for keynote speeches include leadership, motivation, innovation and personal development.

Second, keynote speakers are often experts in their field, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the event. This can be particularly valuable for attendees looking to learn more about a specific topic or industry and to do it in less time (usually, keynotes are around 45 - 90 minutes). The best keynote speakers can motivate, relate and add tangible value to the audience.

Finally, keynote speakers are often skilled communicators who can engage and inspire their audience. This can help create a positive and energized atmosphere at the event and leave attendees feeling motivated and inspired to take action.

Related: How to Adapt Keynote Presentations to Short-form Videos

Why should companies invest in keynote speakers?

There are many benefits to hiring keynote speakers for your event.

  • Set the tone: The keynote speaker can help set the tone for your event and provide a framework for the rest of the event. Do you have a theme? Do you have a central message you want to get across? Keynote speakers are skilled in tying messages and motivation to certain themes that get people to take action.
  • Engage the audience: Keynote speakers are skilled communicators who can engage and inspire their audience and can allow you as the leader to put on an event that people talk about for years to come.
  • Provide valuable insights: Keynote speakers are often experts in their field and can provide valuable insights and knowledge to attendees.
  • Generate buzz: If you have a bigger budget (Some keynote speakers can command high fees, with some high-level speakers charging upwards of $100,000 or more for a single speech), hiring a well-known keynote speaker can help generate buzz and excitement for your event.

Leave lasting impressions: Great keynote speeches can leave a lasting impression on attendees, motivating them to take action or make changes in their personal or professional lives.

Related: Why You Fear Public Speaking and How to Overcome It

How do you hire your next keynote speaker?

Here are some of the things to consider as you are hiring your next keynote speaker...

  • Determine your budget: Before you start looking for a keynote speaker, it's important to determine your budget. This will help you narrow down your options and ensure that you can afford the speaker you want.
  • Identify your needs: Consider the goals and objectives of your event, as well as the interests and needs of your audience. This will help you identify the type of speaker you need and the topics they should cover.
  • Research potential speakers: Many resources are available to help you find potential keynote speakers, including speaker bureaus, online directories, and professional associations. Look for speakers who have expertise in your industry or topic area and have a track record of delivering engaging and inspiring speeches.
  • Review speaker videos and materials: Once you've identified potential speakers, review their videos and other materials to get a sense of their speaking style, personality, and expertise.
  • Check references: Don't be afraid to ask for references from the speaker and follow up with previous clients to get a sense of their experience working with the speaker.
  • Use an agency: There are hundreds of speaker bureaus out there whose job is to help you find the right keynote speaker for your next event. Connecting with them and their agents allows you to find the best keynote speaker — on budget and time!

Keynote speakers are important because they can set the tone and establish the theme of an event or conference. They are typically experts in their field and are invited to share their knowledge, insights, and experiences with the audience. Keynote speeches can be inspiring, informative, and thought-provoking, and they can motivate and engage attendees to participate more fully in the event.

In addition, a well-chosen keynote speaker can enhance the reputation and credibility of the event, attract more attendees, and generate buzz and media coverage. Overall, a compelling keynote speech can make a significant impact on the success of an event and leave a lasting impression on the audience.

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Ryan Avery

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Go From A to THE® with Ryan Avery

Ryan Avery is a world-record holder, Emmy award-winning journalist and best-selling author who shows leaders and their teams how to go From A to THE® in their industry. Avery is also the host of Bellevue University’s 15-minute Tuesday Takeaways.

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