Many organizations and clubs hire keynote speakers for their conventions or gatherings. The idea of a keynote speaker is that the person will set the tone or theme of the event. Keynote speeches get their name from a keynote in music, in which musicians, like barbershop quartets, will play one note in a certain key to set the tone of the song. Apple founder Steve Jobs’ keynote speeches at Apple product launches certainly set the tone for things like the iPad and iPhone – and got people excited about the products.
So what are the qualities a keynote speaker should have, in order to make your event a success? Here are some tips:
The keynote speaker should talk about the topic at hand
Some of the most famous keynote speeches in history happened at political conventions like – Texas politician Ann Richards became a national celebrity when she eviscerated Vice-president George H.W. Bush during the 1988 Democratic National Convention. On the other hand Republican Chris Christie got grief about his appearance at the 2012 Republican National Convention when he talked more about himself and his mother than he did about Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate. Critics felt that his keynote speech was a failure because he didn’t do his job, which was to support the candidate.
You want to hire a speaker who will support your agenda, and know about how business or organization. A keynote speaker at computing conference who had never touched a computer in his life would not exactly go over well. The keynote speaker doesn’t have to be the top expert in the world in your field, but at the very least, he or she should know enough about your company or organization to be able to speak intelligently.
The keynote speaker should be able to speak well
On the other hand, it will do your organization no good if you hire a keynote speaker who is incredibly knowledgeable but boring. Before you hire a keynote speaker who looks good on paper, ask to see and hear recordings of their speeches. Better yet, if the person is in your area, try to see him or her speak in public to get a sense of how the person would be in front of your organization.
Things you want to make sure are tip-top with the would-be keynote speaker include tone of voice, intonation, ability to vary their speech (you don’t want to hear a monotone monologue), and speed of speaking.
The keynote speaker’s speech shouldn’t be too long – or too short
Depending upon the event, the average keynote speech is somewhere between 18 and 22 minutes. And many events like conventions or conferences are very tightly run. So if you have a keynote speaker who goes too long, it could mess up the timing for all of your other events that day. And if the speaker goes too short, it will result in some uncomfortable “dead air” during the event, with nothing to fill the time.
In summary, do your research, spend some time looking for a keynote speaker, talk with your keynote speaker about your expectations, and then enjoy the speech. Good luck.