What Makes a Keynote Speech Valuable to the Audience?

By Daryl Wizelman

There are a lot of reasons to hire a keynote speaker to address a group of people. Some want inspiration, some want motivation, some want to be entertained and others want education. Those are all worthy reasons to listen to a professional speaker.

As a keynote speaker myself, I strongly believe if you walk away from our time together with one new idea or tool that you didn't have before I spoke, it was a successful talk. In my presentations I infuse inspirational, motivational and educational take a-ways and tools to help the audience members improve their lives and their careers. The audience will take these tools with them when they leave so they can easily inculcate them into their lives and careers.

In my experience as a motivational speaker there are two things most people want more of, time and money. In order for them to get more time and more money they must discover tools and processes that allow them to accomplish their long and short term goals. This is accomplished by spending most of the keynote talking about these goals and how the speaker can help them to improve the attendee's life and/or their business.

In the movie "Beaches", the main characters in the film Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler have a talk on the beach where one character says to the other, "that's enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think of me?" The talk a keynote motivational speaker gives should have a strong focus on the value the audience is getting from investing their time with the speaker. The speaker should be selfless not selfish is the motto I reflect on when I am preparing my talks. It isn't about me. It is about the audience and what I can give to them.

I do believe it is important to begin the talk by telling the audience the speaker's "story." The speaker should be both transparent and vulnerable. The speaker's story consists of what they have accomplished and where they have succeeded and where they have failed. It is vitally important to gain trust and respect from the audience if the speaker expects them to leave the talk with value.

In my case I discuss my challenging childhood including my parent's divorce when I was 10, my responsibility for my two younger brothers and how both of my parents battled with substance abuse, my ADD diagnosis at age 6 (took Ritalin for many years), my struggle to get through high school and college, the building of my business from scratch into a business with 550+ employees and over 3 billion dollars in annual volume, the unique corporate culture we created and fostered to the end of my business and its eventual acquisition and the stress and life changing challenges that arose after my business was no longer in my control including contracting shingles and spinal meningitis. This "story" is communicated in 10 minutes or so. The audience then knows a bit about me and my successes, challenges and failures. I believe that my story or part of my story is similar to their story. I am looking to create rapport and trust with the audience.

After the speaker tells their "story", it is time to spend the majority of the time remaining focusing on how the speaker can enable each audience member to accomplish their short and long term goals. In my case I focus on life/work balance, leadership, life planning, strategic initiatives and emotional intelligence. Through these topics my audience will learn tools and processes to help them improve their lives and their careers. My goal is for my audience to move from living a happy life to living an extraordinary life where they are as happy and fulfilled as possible.

Included in my presentations are music and video intertwined with my presentation. My goal is to stimulate the audience and for them to leave inspired, educated and with new tools that they didn't have before the talk began.

A keynote motivational speaker should leave the audience feeling like they spent their time and money wisely and they left the speakers talk with some very valuable take-a-ways.

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