I remember the first time I saw a keynote speech. I was at a staff event at Virgin Atlantic Airways with none other than the epic Richard Branson. I was tipsy on southern comfort and coke, but that only enhanced the experience!

Over the years I have seen many more keynote speeches, and whilst each one is unique (which is the beauty of speaking) I’ve noticed some common threads that tie the best together. If you are thinking of giving a keynote, put these 7 key ingredients into yours for maximum impact.

  1. Thermostat not thermometer

The purpose of a keynote is to bring the overarching message of an event together. I like to think of this using the analogy of the thermostat and the thermometer. A thermometer reacts to the environment, which as a speaker means they are not feeling empowered by the message they are delivering and how this will move, inspire or help the audience.

A top keynote speaker will act like a thermostat. They will set the temperature of the event, so that all the other talks align and compliment. Rather than reacting to the audience, they will be interacting. The keynote will communicate the theme of the event in a truly inspiring way. Ann Daniels, the keynote speaker for Entrepreneurial Leaders Live was chosen because I just knew she would set the temperature of the event and bring together the theme ‘The Big Breakthrough.’ Particularly her polar bear story!

  1. Inspiration

A great keynote will include bucket loads of inspiration. This usually comes from the speaker sharing elements of a personal or professional journey that is aligned to the message. This will include insights and lessons. The more the speaker is able to connect with the audience, the more they will be inspired. I believe passionately that we all have the ability to make a big impact and inspire so many by sharing these stories. A big outcome for people attending EL live is that they will walk away knowing how they can use their personal and professional stories to inspire others and set themselves apart from the competition.

  1. Change making

A great keynote will not only inspire you, but will also leave you motivated to go away and make real changes. This usually happens through a powerful core message, which will fill you up throughout the talk and leave you wanting to run out the door and take action straight  away. Big change can come from taking one key lesson away. If you are developing a keynote yourself, think about the one thing you would want your audience to walk away and do as a result of listening to you. After Ann’s talk at the world class leadership conference, I bounded up to her and asked her straight away if she would be keynote speaker at my event. I hadn’t even planned the event! Now that’s change making!

  1. Presence

That day I saw Richard Branson for the first time I was blown away by his presence. He was quiet and unassuming, yet he had every member in the audience on tenterhooks till the very last word. This is the thing about presence. You don’t have to be a gregarious extrovert to hold a room and leave them wanting more. Having low controlled presence is as effective as having high controlled presence. The key is to connect with your audience and use the ‘power of the pause’. Georgia Varjas is a speaker coach has oodles of experience in making an impact with your presence. Georgia, who will be speaking at EL live talks frequently about the power of the pause, and how you can make a big impact by not saying anything at all.

  1. Simplicity

I have delivered many workshops, talks and keynotes over the years, and I’ve seen a load too. My biggest lesson is to keep it as simple as possible. A great keynote will only focus on a few key points, and will use stories, studies, analogies, opinions and case studies to back them up.

We often think that the more information we give the more it will help people, but stripping it all back to its simplest elements will help your audience not only remember the key points of your talk, but will also remember you for delivering it in such an effective way. At EL live attendees will get the chance to flex their speaking muscles by taking to the mic for an open session at the end of Day 1.

  1. Visually stimulating

Great keynotes use elements that stimulate the senses. Just hearing someone speak for 45 minutes can become energy draining. Switching up the stimulus will keep the audience paying attention. Using video, imagery, sound and even sometimes smell can help to anchor key points, and make the talk energising and memorable. In Floyd Woodrow’s keynote talk at the world class leadership conference, he used lots of video and visual imagery in quick succession, which gave a high energy feel whilst anchoring the key points of his talk.

  1. Fun

Humour has been cited as one of the key ingredients for the most successful TED talks of all time. This is because humour has the ability to disarm even the harshest critics, break down emotional barriers and connect the audience and speaker. Having fun is also a great way to combat nerves, which we all get regardless of whether we are a seasoned keynote speaker or just starting out. It is and should be an enjoyable experience! And if you are having fun the audience will too. In my recent Independent article, I explore the use of humour and the importance it plays in public speaking.

But my biggest advice to you is believing that you have the ability to be a top keynote speaker. You do. We ALL do. The key is aligning your inner passion for your subject with your delivery.

Are you an entrepreneur or small business owner looking for ways to stand out in a saturated market?

Harnessing the power of storytelling is a strategy I recommend. At Entrepreneurial Leaders Live 2018 you will learn from and be inspired by top keynote speakers who have used their own personal and professional stories to make a big impact in the world.

You will have the opportunity to tap your own stories and discover how they can stand you apart from the rest and eradicate the competition. You will also get the chance to put your stories to the test and feel the buzz of rapturous applause!

Join us this summer for a truly transformative experience.

Buy your ticket here

Helen xx


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