Five Things to Make a Keynote Sizzle

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

A keynote presentation is a wonderful opportunity to communicate an impactful message to a large group in a short period of time. It can set the tone for the programs and events that follow and it can end an event with a bang….all, if done correctly.

Having made hundreds of keynote addresses over the years, I have created a list of five things we need to do to make a keynote sizzle. These are not the only things to do, but they will increase the odds for a successful presentation.

  1. Prepare. This starts with learning who your audience will be, what they know, and what they need and want to know as a result of your presentation. This research is vital so that you can tailor your presentation to this unique audience, and, all audiences are unique. Practice, practice, practice. Become comfortable enough to deliver the address with just some notes as reminders so that you can tailor the talk as you deliver it.
  2. Arrive Early. The success of your talk has a lot to do with the quality of your presentation but also the environment where it is delivered. Arrive early to make sure the room is set the way you desire, the temperature is at 68 degrees, the lighting is appropriate, all of the AV equipment is working, and all of your materials are there. Stand where you will give your speech and practice for a few minutes. Get comfortable with the setting and the environment.
  3. Meet And Greet. I try to have only one access door open to the room so that as people arrive, I have the opportunity to shake their hands, look them in the eyes, and introduce myself. I will do this even with a very large audience. Some will sneak by, others may not be impressed, but most enjoy the greeting and a bond is established before I talk. When I finally get to the podium, I see familiar faces and they see a person they have touched. It’s a nice way to begin.
  4. Talk To Their Level. I shouldn’t have to add this to the list, but I must. Speakers occasionally try to impress rather than address. Communication is more than my speaking and your hearing my words. Communication is speaking and having the listener hear, understand, internalize, and act upon my message. If I don’t speak at the level of the audience, I will not communicate effectively. They may leave impressed, but their issues may not have been addressed. “He was smart.” “He sure was.” “What did he say?” “I don’t know.”
  5. Stay After. Plan your schedule so that you can remain after your talk to mix and mingle with your audience. Your presence post-speech will reinforce your message and your relatability. Answer their questions. Listen to their concerns. Swap anecdotes. Be a regular guy or gal.

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Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Certified Executive Coach, Consultant and Trainer
Author, “Organizing Your Life” and “The Productivity Handbook”
Productivity Institute
Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact
127 Jefferson St.
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 386-8062
(800) 969-3773
info@balancetime.com
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