A Great Brief Makes a Great Keynote Speech

by | Mar 9, 2022 | Business Growth

keynote speech

What makes a great keynote speech?

If you want to have a great keynote speech at your event, and you want to get the best possible return on investment from the keynote speaker, start by giving the speaker a great keynote brief to work from. This article shows you how to do that.

A keynote speech should never be about the speaker’s career, adventures and triumphs. It should always be about the client, and their needs. The speaker’s accolades can make nice additions and stories that add layers to the event message, but they should only be additions, not the main subject.

Let’s explore how to put a brief together, so you get a great keynote speech…

The brief: Putting together a great keynote speech

Imagine… it’s 4.30 pm on a Friday afternoon. The senior team has just finished their meeting and the task of putting together an event has landed in your lap. Your brief is to find someone, motivational, inspiring and entertaining.

As an event planner, the chances are you will now likely do one of 5 things:

  1. Ask a speaker agency to help find a speaker –This will shortcut your leg work, because agents cut to the chase, get into your requirements and are realistic about budgets.
  2. Use Google– the DIY option, where you take days looking over videos, scrolling through websites and social profiles. This option takes a lot of your time, doing what an agent will do in minutes
  3. Get referrals from your network–your network shout-out people they’ve heard of and in some cases seen, and then you look at the video, websites and social profiles as you would do in option 2.
  4. Ask in a group– If your social network extends to a group specialising in events you might post in the group and occasionally the group comes up trumps. But expect a deluge of ideas and pitches and be prepared to do the research as in option 2.
  5. Ask your audience– Email the audience likely to attend and get recommendations. This will result in a similar outcome to option 4.

As an agency, the problem we see is the brief you have inherited – ‘find a speaker, someone, motivational, inspiring and entertaining.’ In our view that’s not a brief, that’s just a description of every speaker on our books.

To help you get that great keynote speech we need more…

Digging deeper into the brief

A great speaker brief includes 3 things:

1. The event theme – a brief needs to state the overall theme of the event. Is it to coincide with a new project or to galvanise and energise your team? Is it to highlight and educate on an issue the company or industry is dealing with? Is it to deepen awareness on a value or trend the company wants to bring to the forefront? Check out our guide to creating successful events.

2. The event outcome – When everyone leaves the auditorium at the end of the event, what’s the outcome you want the audience to have? As an event organiser this is where the event ROI is gained.

For the audience to feel the event has been worth the time and effort of participation they need to walk away with something of consequence. If they don’t, they’ll shrug and say the event was ‘Okay’, or ‘Nice,’ but they won’t decide to commit their future to the company or recommend the company to their best industry peers unless they feel you added value to their life and genuinely care. Thinking carefully about the event outcome is one way for the company to add value and show care.

For example, if your organisation has a turnover of just a million a year, you are looking for just a 1% (£10,000) increase in production or sales, a reduction in staff sickness or staff turnover, or other 1% change. That 1% will get you a return on investment from a keynote speech. That’s an easily achievable goal, if you plan the outcome and work with us to measure and ensure it happens.

3. The event audience – The brief needs to state:

– Who the audience is – Are they industry leaders, new company recruits or senior leaders and teams in the organisation?

– What is their understanding of the theme – Is this a new theme being introduced into your company or is it an industry trend that some will have some familiarity with, but not much knowledge; or is it something that’s been prominent for a while and needs to be given greater airtime and thought

– What is the audience’s mindset regarding the outcome – are they likely to be open-minded to it or resistant? What questions do they have that need to be addressed?

Prompts that may help you decide the best event outcome based on your theme:

  1. What knowledge or information gaps do you see in your organisation regarding the event theme right now?
  2. What is the knowledge or information, based on the event theme that you don’t yet have, but nonetheless will be required for the organisation in the future?
  3. What are the trends in the market or world, regarding this theme, that impact your business that you feel you need to understand more about?

Current trending topics include:

  • A Post-COVID World
  • Managing Climate Change
  • The Future of Work
  • Mental Resilience
  • Managing Mental Health
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Diversity
  • Workplace Inclusion
  • Brexit

The research: putting together a great keynote speech

Once we know the theme, the desired outcome and the audience background it’s easy for an agent to put ideas in front of a client. Knowing just those three key pieces of information narrows down the possibilities from dozens of speakers to maybe a handful, in a matter of minutes.

Knowing the budget you are working with will help an agent narrow down the possible speakers even further. Telling the agent the budget will usually result in narrowing down the possible speakers to a handful. At this point as an agency, we would talk you through what we believe they can bring to your event and maybe suggest a few twists to the angles you have in mind to make this an even greater event.

At this point, having narrowed down the speakers down further we’ll give you further information to look over about the speakers. With your approval, we’ll also arrange for you to have a no-obligation consultation with your preferred speaker.

At this briefing, you should invite anyone else involved in the decision-making process, because the speaker will now make suggestions on how they will bring the topic to life. Some speakers will suggest adding something experiential that will stay in the audience’s mind. This could include a demonstration, music, stories or more…

The idea of the briefing meeting is to let you get a feel for the speaker and feel confident in your choice.

How the speech comes to life at the event…

A great keynote speaker will engage your audience – the speaker will bring presence to the stage and connect deeply with your audience, reinforcing the event theme and leading to the desired outcome.

The keynote speech will lead to improvement somewhere within the organisation as mentioned above, leading to ROI.

A great keynote speech: Post-event  

A keynote speech can just be a keynote speech, but why leave it there?

By the time a keynote speaker has taken the stage they will have invested time in getting to know your organisation and helping to reinforce the theme and deliver outcomes. They are gifted communicators and there are a number of ways they could continue to help your organisation internally or externally to drive a message or philosophy forward.

You may also find this article on Finding the best keynote speaker for your event useful

We believe all keynote speakers should be Stellar Speakers – able to entertain, connect with an audience and make a positive impact. As a unique speaker agency representing change-making keynote speakers, we provide expertise to help you manage your budgetary expectations and provide realistic options. We provide a preferred partner’s service base, so that partner clients get everything they need, lowering your risk as a booker of speakers, so you can make your choice about your next speaker with confidence.

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If your next conference is around the corner it’s time to book a consultation with Stellar Speakers.

Let us help you find the right keynote speaker to deliver timely messages, fresh themes and introduce the latest methodology and thinking.

Because our speakers are thought-leaders, industry expert and change-agents we help bring out the best in your organisation. Our passion is developing your people.

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