Keynote Speaking: Six Tips to Master Before Stepping On Stage

A keynote speech is a large undertaking, so it can be an understandably difficult task to prepare for. A keynote must be thorough, thought provoking, and most importantly, must keep the audience’s attention for a good 30 minutes or more. How does one accomplish such a daunting task? When you’re done with picturing everyone in their underwear, try these six new keynote speaking tips.

Start With Something Strong

It can be tempting to start your speech with some background information about yourself or the subject at hand to bring your audience up to speed, but in reality this will just end up putting your audience to sleep. Remember, you’ve already been introduced, so the audience doesn’t need to hear any more dry introductions. Start with a strong statement, a funny story, a personal anecdote, or a shocking statistic – anything to grab people’s attention. Once you have your audience hooked, then you can give them more context on what you’re talking about.

Show, Don’t Tell

One of the biggest – and most often ignored – rules of writing and speaking is: show, don’t tell. That means: don’t just tell your audience what you want them to do, show them through concrete examples, real stories, or facts and figures.

Share Your Weakness

It can seem counterintuitive for a keynote speaker to demonstrate their weakness in front of an audience whose trust they are trying to earn, but in truth this is a great method for reaching your audience at their level. It shows that you are a real person, and makes you more relatable to the audience. That way, they won’t see you as some patronizing figure, but as a fellow human being who is simply sharing ideas on a personal level.

Don’t Memorize Your Speech

Again, it seems counterintuitive for a speaker to go on stage without having memorized their speech, but memorizing is actually one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a keynote speaker. Instead of having lines of text memorized, or worse, reading off of the page in front of you, as a keynote speaker you should be speaking as if you are having a real interaction with the audience. That means you need to know your material inside and out, but you can’t simply be reciting a pre-written speech.

Talk in Tweets

Many contemporary audiences come to events with smartphones in hand, ready to broadcast what they hear. So why not help them by writing their tweets for them? Audiences love great sound bites, so have a few in the back of your pocket that you’re ready to pull out at the perfect moment.

Learn From Other Public Speakers

One of the best ways to prepare for a keynote address is to watch and learn from other great public speakers. They don’t have to be keynote speakers, just speakers who do a great job of connecting with large audiences. For example, Sir Gerry Robinson is a popular keynote speaker, but he also has experience in television and radio broadcasting. He takes the experience from his other public speaking endeavours and applies them to his keynote addresses to come up with speeches that are truly captivating.

Who inspires you when it comes to public speaking? Do you have a favourite comedian, news anchor, radio host, or other public speaker? Use this inspiration to your advantage. Study their techniques and apply what you can to your own speech in order to make a truly memorable address.

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