How to Choose a Winning Keynote Speaker for Your Corporate Event
A keynote speaker is the centerpiece of a corporate event – whether it’s a conference, convention, teambuilding retreat, or seminar. For better or worse, they set the tone, scaffold the ideas, and guide discussions.
We say “for better or worse” because that’s a lot of emphasis to place on one individual. And if the individual you hire fails to spark imaginations, spur thought, and hold the audience’s attention, the entire corporate event around them suffers.
Readers of this blog understand the need for forward-thinking, user-engaging, tuned-in solutions. Your organization isn’t looking for empty platitudes or bald hucksterism (see that fabulous “sell me this pen” scene from The Wolf of Wall Street). You want someone who intimately understands the machinery of modern business.
That said, if you’re hiring a keynote speaker for your next event, consider knowledge, engagement, and track record. Below, let’s explore these criteria in detail.
Balancing the Big Picture with the Hyper-Specific
The best keynote speakers balance two impossible extremes: they take an aerial view of the world’s macro-trends and global societal features, but they follow it up with granular knowledge of various hyper-specific industry problems and solutions. They think big, and they think small. In this way, they’re uniquely suited to breathe fresh perspective into your organization.
Take a futurist like Nikolas Badminton as a prime example. The head keynote speaker at futurist.com, Badminton zooms out the lens as far as it can go, looking at the global trends that impact our futures. But he’s also keenly aware and deeply studied on various industries, connecting those big-picture insights to specific organizations that want to become future ready.
Look for a keynote speaker with a foreknowledge of your industry, organizational goals, setbacks, and ambitions – but who isn’t afraid to look at your organization as part of a much bigger picture.
A Demonstrated Knack for Delivering Engaging Presentations
Knowledge is all well and good – but unless it’s delivered engagingly, it will be a tree falling in the forest with no one around. It’s going to land with little human impact.
Find a keynote speaker with a knack for entertainment. We’re not talking about the “cane-and-hat-act” kind of entertainment – but someone who isn’t afraid to leverage humor, personal stories and grabby anecdotes to convey their premises.
Nowadays, you should have no problem vetting a keynote speaker for engagement in advance. Just search their YouTube channel (or videos section of their website) for examples of their elocution in action. If you find your interest piqued and your imagination sparked, you’ve probably found a winner.
Votes of Confidence: Praise, Testimonials, and Partners
Yes, videos are a fantastic cross-section of the oratory skills and ideas proffered by a keynote speaker. But they are, ultimately, just that: a cross-section. A highlight reel.
To support your decision, look at votes of confidence from other organizations. Read through testimonials and reviews to get a sense of the atmosphere in the room. And pay close attention to the speaker’s partnerships. Have they partnered with multinationals, tech companies, innovators, and game changers? How varied and inspiring are their bona fides?
If you can find a keynote speaker who passes muster on all of the above considerations, you know you have a winner. And you can reasonably expect that, when the date of your corporate event arrives, there will be intellectual and creative fireworks going off in that room.