How to Hire a Dynamic Keynote Speaker That Doesn’t Bore Your Audience to Death

Some speakers never fail to captivate a room. 

It happens instantly, as soon as they take the stage or the mic or the podium. Everyone knows, this is someone with something important to say, and I can’t wait to hear what it is. It’s like they give off some kind of invisible captivation vibes. 

That’s the kind of person you want to find to inspire and educate your team. Conferences search far and wide for the best speakers, the captivating kind with a great message to share. 

But booking a dynamic keynote speaker isn’t just about finding a person, or even finding a cheap person. It’s something more. 

You all are probably familiar with self-help/motivational speaking guru Tony Robbins. Granted, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but one thing is clear—for better or for worse, the man will hold your attention. His presentations will make you feel something. Energized. Inspired. Or ready to challenge. Coiled for a critical dialogue. Even walk across a bed of hot coals.  

Excellent speakers make the audience think, feel, and engage in ways that last. 

A Dud Will Cost You

Alternately, when you book someone who, well, just bombs, it’s obvious. The crowd physically withdraws. Eyes turn away. Squirming in seats. Pens and notebooks down.

In a phrase—checked out.   

Everyone is thinking: Can I leave yet? Who let this guy in? If the speaker is already “off” the audience reaction will only send him/her farther from the mark. Or else—and maybe even worse—they will keep going, oblivious to the anguish of the audience. 

And once they bomb, there’s no way to take that back. A poor keynote speaker torpedos the energy of the whole conference. 

But there’s good news—you can discover the perfect keynote speaker for your event. You can avoid the disaster of a bad keynote speaker and instead create an event people will be talking about all year. 

The trick? Find a dynamic keynote speaker. It’s doable, as long as you know the secrets. 

When Your Keynote Speaker Wins, Everyone Wins 

I’ve spoken in front of thousands of people across several continents and can tell you—there’s no feeling like absolutely nailing a keynote speech. 

Not only does it feel great knowing you’ve successfully delivered amazing value to a large group of growing leaders/entrepreneurs/etc. but executing a presentation on so large a scale also benefits the hosting organization, sponsors/collaborators, even the event planners themselves. 

So how do you know if your speaker is going to bomb or bring their A-Game? 

Over the years I’ve paid attention to the exact skills that separate the average from the impactful… And you know what? 

What makes Tony—or any other keynote speaker—such a powerful asset to a conference isn’t just the X factor. 

It comes down to eight elements YOU can look for today. 

These are the key elements you need to see when booking your next keynote speaker.

1. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Hook the Audience and Keep Them on the Line

(No worms required.)

People know within the first two minutes whether they want to listen to the speaker for the next ninety minutes. But some speakers don’t maximize that initial first impression. Most speakers move through their intro too quickly. 

It’s good to be excited about their message, so they want to get to the meat of their presentation and really wow the audience with their know-how. But these speakers miss a key element of human connection—the power of first impressions.  

A hook is just like it sounds, it grabs the audience and doesn’t let them go. It makes them want to see what’s coming and it keeps them on the edge of their seats.

Without a hook, your speaker will lose the audience’s attention—and trust—before he/she can get anywhere meaningful. 

It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s just how the human brain works. 

You can fight against that knowledge, or use it to your advantage. 

Some of my favorite hooks:

  • An intriguing question
  • Something that makes you unique
  • Something that makes the audience laugh.
  • A story—with a relevant twist

Good hooks set up the entire presentation. Do some research and if your keynote speaker has a dynamic intro. 

2. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Authentically Connect 

After a well-done first impression comes the real connection. A dynamic speaker has the social awareness and personal understanding to honestly, authentically, and humbly connect with their audience. 

Who wants to listen to someone brag on and on about what they know? 

Not your team, for sure. 

Authentic speakers use real stories from their life to connect with their audience. They show that they have walked the walk, not just talked the talk. They have experienced the same struggles as many in the room. 

Honest connectors are open about where they have failed in the past, but have learned powerful lessons and are ready to share with others on the same path. 

They avoid using pretentious words and undefined vocabulary, but speak with approachable intelligence. 

Most importantly, they make their message about the audience, not themselves and this resonates. 

3. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Know the Crowd

Every keynote speaker finds a particularly difficult crowd once in a while. 

But the best of the best know how to adjust for the room. Without going off-presentation, they can scan the crowd, find those who are “leaning in” and those who aren’t. 

Contemplative listeners are one thing, they lean in and are engaged with the message. Bored is another, they zone out. 

But great speakers have a plan to re-engage those who are wandering. 

  • A plot twist mid-speech
  • Another probing question
  • A surprising statistic

Some of the bold even acknowledge, “Okay, if some of you are slipping, make sure you come back for this point. If you take nothing else from today—remember this.” 

And then they deliver a powerful point that brings the crowd back into focus. 

4. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Use Slides Carefully 

A common question I get is whether it’s okay to use slides for presentations. Is it distracting? Is it helpful? Will the audience think I need too much help? 

Here’s my rule of thumb: Use notes/slides if it delivers value to the audience. 

So look at each slide as if you were the audience member. Is this a key point you would want to remember? A helpful quote? An engaging image? 

Or is the content unnecessary to reiterate? Is it overly-detailed? Does the wording speak down to the reader or mainly boost your ego? 

Those slides will be a distraction more than a resource. Remember: the speaker should be commanding attention, not the screens. Too much slideshow and your audience will forget about the person talking on stage. You want a dynamic keynote speaker, not a slideshow. 

The speaker who can put together an engaging, informative, yet subtle set of slides, has the best chance of executing them successfully. 

5. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Own a Clear Message

I’ve left keynote speeches where everything seemed great. The speaker was bright, chatty, and, the audience seemed engaged, until afterwards someone asked, “Hey, so what was the main idea?” and I realized… there wasn’t one. 

Well that was a waste. 

Without a clear and concise message, your speaker has missed the mark. They might have left an impression, but offered nothing of real, lasting value. 

A dynamic keynote speaker cuts to the chase. 

  • They know less is more. 
  • They cover the first things first (front-loading the message). 
  • They present actionable takeaways instead of abstract values. 
  • They leave the audience with a memorable call to action. 

6. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Make the Audience Feel

Of course, charisma is still an important element. 

Maya Angelou once said, “They may forget your words but won’t forget how you made them feel.” Remember back to some of your favorite speakers. They certainly had a central message—but also left you with something more. 

Your keynote speaker should wield his or her clear, concise ideas to make the audience feel something powerful. It takes a willingness to put themselves into the audience perspective.

They will ask, “What does the room need to learn that I can share? How do they want to feel afterwards? How can I energize them towards their goals?”

Dynamic keynote speakers do the research so they know the crowd and what they (or their organization) thinks they need—and deliver that. 

7. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Master Voice Level, Inflection, Tone, and Body Language

For thousands of years stories were passed down through performance. Each community had a storyteller who had mastered the art of performance, tone, inflection, and body language. 

These men and women shared important lessons, histories, and morals—all through voice. 

Even today, voice and body language are an innate extension of your message: 

  • Raising the voice to make a point
  • Lower the voice to get people to lean in
  • Open arms represent openness and honesty
  • Eye contact instills trust and confidence
  • Movement across the stage creates dimension between topics 
  • Movement toward the audience creates rapport when asking questions, making a vital point, or proposing a new idea

Pick a speaker whose physical awareness adds to the rhetoric of their message. They understand how body language conveys meaning, so instead of standing still, reading monotonously off a script, they make the space come alive. 

8. Dynamic Keynote Speakers Leave You Wanting More

A good sign that your keynote speaker is great? When you feel surprised (and a little sad) as they come to a close.  

The best speakers close out their dynamic presentations just as strongly as they started. But for all the value they brought, their audience is left wanting more. 

They got a hint of the next level—and they can’t wait to get there. 

So when choosing a keynote speaker, assess whether they invite you to the next level. Do they: 

  • Give the audience something to do?
  • Offer to connect?
  • Share social, site, book, etc. so the audience can learn more?

By approaching each speech as part of a larger learning journey, dynamic keynote speakers create dynamic listeners.  

Still Searching for a Dynamic Keynote Speaker?

As a speaker, it’s my job to nurture these eight elements every single day. Whether I’m teaching excellent execution of the InSPIRED Leadership Framework to a few business teams or sharing my Iditarod leadership journey with an entire conference, I can see these elements make a powerful difference. 

If you like what you’re reading and want to hear more on leadership, communication, execution, intentionality, and more, contact me at (877) 843-7284.

This Common Workplace Problem is Costing You Money

It’s a workplace epidemic. Poor conflict skills are hurting business teams at every level. 

We’ve all been there: 

You notice a problem but it feels “nicer” to avoid confrontation. But “nice” can’t stop the problem from continuing or resentment from growing … before long emotions are festering… until someone blows up! 

Now a moment of misunderstanding has become an emergency. 

Not only do poorly managed conflicts damage team unity, interpersonal trust, and communication—but they hurt the bottom line! 

The American economy has lost billions, yes billions, of dollars of work hours to unresolved arguments at work. The top offenders? 

  1. Personality clashes
  2. Stress levels
  3. Workload amount
  4. Poor leadership 
  5. Lack of honesty 

Do any of these sound familiar? Well, thankfully your team isn’t alone. 

It’s just a fact that not every belief and behavior is going to line up. 

That’s why leaders need a plan for discussing conflict with the individual member(s)—and realigning the powerful pull of the team. 

So how does it happen? Here are 4 steps to facilitate your next workplace conflict: 

Understand the Specifics

Instead of entering the conflict with guns blazing generalities—“You’re delivering the wrong results! Do something about it!”—help each listener understand the specifics. 

Break the problem into tangible pieces—only then can you create tangible steps back to cohesion and reconciliation.  

Watch out for ad hominem attacks, personal grudges, or conflict of personality.

Identify what expectations are unmet, how the team member might have gotten off the trail, and where the disconnect actually lies. It may be a simpler fix than you think. 

Assume Better not Worse 

Many people interpret correction or confrontation as an assault or a rejection of them as a person. Biting assumptions about their intentions immediately backs that team member into a corner. 

And when anyone gets cornered, they will almost always lash out for self-preservation. 

You’ll be amazed at how giving people the benefit of the doubt clears the way for honest communication. However, in cases where communication breaks down due to discrimination or unfair treatment, documenting employee discrimination in the workplace becomes crucial for addressing and resolving such issues effectively.

Ask for Perspective 

For years I’ve taught on using the “sandwich method” for confrontation—where you affirm the person (bread), deal with the issue (meat), affirm the person, their contribution / value (bread) and set points of accountability and clarity around future behavior.

When asked, genuinely, for their point of view, they are more likely to feel seen as a whole—even to return the favor.

De-escalate the conversation by putting yourself in their shoes. It’s harder to argue when you know you are affirmed. 

Rediscover the Trail

After you’ve identified where someone has lost the trail (or maybe the trail went somewhere without their knowledge) don’t leave them wandering! 

Most of the time, sharing your lens and the desired lens of the future will be enough to start the change process.

If a team member continues to engage in divisive behaviors or continues to hold onto beliefs that are contrary to the team and harmful to progress then we’ll need to increase the intensity and frequency of the confrontation. 

A last resort: you may recommend that they run for a different team. And that’s ok. 

To move forward, everyone has to pull in one direction—one purpose, one goal, one team.

Craft New Expectations 

I mention all the time that frustration happens when expectation meets reality. 

Here’s our reality—conflict happens. As long as your team works together, you will experience miscommunication, clash of opinion, and other conflicts. But it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s an opportunity. 

When your team members can expect purposeful, balanced, and thoughtful conflict assistance they are free to do their best work. They are free to communicate. They are free to ask questions. 

They can lean into a unified, positive, and purposeful culture. 

If we value the mission and we value the players on the team—we can’t do without these resolution skills. 


The Real Reason No One Listens When You Speak

3 Steps to Communicate Powerfully with Your Team

People have been figuring out ways to communicate with each other since they first set foot on the earth—from cave drawings and hieroglyphics to modern day emojis. 😎

We’ve become masters of getting our ideas across. Without dialogue, our teams disintegrate. But communication requires more than the transmission of information.

On a boat flying across the bay, crew members must become efficient and effective at relaying information. Wasting time and energy, or worse, risking miscommunication, just won’t do.

In your business, what are your critical communication points? Do you speak to employees or team members in person or via video calls? Will a team member text you with a question, call you, email you, or wait until you come asking? How does your behavior influence how willing teammates are to communicate with you?

Every interaction is a potential miscommunication unless you are intentional about integrating.  

The Communication Checklist

As you re-envision what you want successful communication to look like on your team, take these three steps:

1. Identify

It’s also important to identify the key people with whom you need to communicate the most—and help leaders on your team do the same with their key personnel. Everyone needs a leader who will hear him or her. As a leader, you must take responsibility for communication as far as it is within your control.

2. Adapt

Integrated communication depends on doing it in ways others understand and appreciate. Does one member love to contact you directly? Give them a chance to do so.

Are they independent and work on their own until checked upon? Be sure to check in on them at regular intervals.

It’s impossible—and not necessary—to get everyone to speak the same language. Do your best to integrate with the people you lead and speak to them using their preferred style.

3. Ask

When I’m working with turnarounds or start-ups, I like doing critical communication in morning huddles. These are short team meetings designed to communicate critical information, focus the team, and get back at it.

To make sure you are communicating effectively, consider these questions:

  • What are the critical components I need to communicate?
  • What does my team need to know?
  • Whom should I tell first?
  • Are there any critical communication points being missed?
  • Is my communication one-way or two-way?
  • Is the message I’m trying to deliver the message that’s being received?

People Who Listen are People Who Feel Heard

All communication is not created equal. Many leaders technically say all the right information—but they’re still not communicating. They’re just transmitting. Because if you are talking and nobody is listening, you aren’t communicating.

In the military, when somebody has given an order, the soldiers respond back with a term called “Hooah!” It stands for H.U.A. Heard. Understood. Acknowledged. Effective communication asks for an echo check from the team, a confirmation that not only have they heard, but they understand what to do, acknowledge their role, and are moving to action.

Don’t mistake leadership monologues for company dialogue. Communication means not only that transmission has occurred, but also that recipients have received the information—and they know what to do with it.

As a leader start the communication evaluation with yourself. Perform a communication audit. Ask your team members to rate your communication skills, and take what they say to heart.

Then perform a listening audit. Work to listen to your team members and use their best input.

When people feel truly heard, they rise to the occasion every time. When you start listening to them, they’ll start listening to you.

Trust is the basis for communication.

Safety (and Self Preservation) are in the top 5 needs of Humans. When people don’t feel safe, when they don’t trust the environment that they are in – they can’t communicate. Their belief is that I will be harmed if I communicate. Cultures that lack trust, foster sarcasm, retaliate for open/honest debate, or criticize anything beyond the status quo CANNOT have productive communication.

Trust does not mean predictability of behavior, trust means a belief that there is safety, integrity, and a full desire for the best in the life of another. You could say, “I TRUST that John will use this information and twist it to his benefit.” Or “I TRUST that Jane will take credit for this idea.” Those are when the word trust is more about predictability. To say, “I TRUST that if Sue says the idea needs to be fleshed out a little more that is what she means” implies that you believe that Sue is operating with authenticity and integrity and not just trying to buy time to get her own agenda implemented.

Where is the trust level in your organization? On your team?

What are the factors that impact trust?

I’ll throw out a couple and then ask that the group adds more in the comments section.

· Hidden agendas

· Unresolved offenses

· Misinterpretation

· Overly competitive culture

· Lack of confrontation of wrong behaviors

What other points can you add to the mix? What are the issues that you have seen in the past that cause distrust?

We need Organizations and teams that can have the “rigorous” honesty and debate without fear of rejection, retaliation or humiliation!

When we spend more time guarding information, fighting each other, or simply closed off to working together as a team, we limit our success for the mission. Our “Trail to Glory” becomes more of a “Trial of the Gory”.

Many times sickness and disease can ravage a team and spread to other teams nearby in Dog Sled races. The cure is to treat each team member and it can take a number of weeks to get the group back to health. If it happens during the race, your race could be over!

There is hope! There are communication programs and remedies that can be put into place to grow and heal your communication culture. Step 1 of all of them goes to understanding and fixing the Trust level in the team.

Please jump in on this Friday blog and let’s discuss communication, trust, and having a healthy team!

When does perception = reality?

You say, “Tomato”. I Say “TomAHto”. You say, “we’re going to change…”. I think, “What do you mean change? I like it the way it is now. I’m used to doing it this way. If you change, it’s going to mean extra work. If you need to change, it means I’m not doing my job right. Or the company is in trouble. Either way I’m probably going to lose my job. This is a terrible time to be out of work. I Hate rebuilding my resume. I hate interviewing. What about the house? What about the bills? …..”

You get the point.

All of us bend information to our own level of understanding. I call this the “Sunglass” principle. Light comes into our “Eyes” but before it gets to the final stage of understanding – it gets interpreted or “bent” by our “lenses”. Without going into a full discussion or session on “Belief Windows”, these “Lenses” are formed from our past experiences, both in our business and our personal lives. The resulting effect on the team is that communication that is not intentional is left to everyone’s separate “Lens” and, at each interpretation, it gets bent. Their Perception = their reality.

Intentional “Iditarod Leadership” Communication takes into account the “Sunglasses” or lens of the recipient(s) before the message is ever launched out there. The message is, intentionally, crafted to each person AND each personality type.

Bending the information to each personality type, basically, means we need to consider:

· How much detail or factual based communication each recipient may need

· How some are going to perceive it affecting their image, social status, or income

· How others are going to feel before they think

· And how some just need us to cut to the bottom line.

Most, if not all, will, immediately, want to know how it affects them and their future. Like it or not, most of us are wired to think of self and self-preservation first.

If the message is to a large audience or is to be cascaded, we will need to build the intentional model to make sure the message isn’t bent at each level or with each department or divisional leader’s agenda.

Intentional Communication takes effort, but with the understanding that it will take more time to clarify, re-engage, re-purpose, re-direct, and get back on track – the effort on the front end is well worth the price of admission!

When communicating to the team, do you consider your teams personality and lenses?

If you are on the team, Do you consider your leader’s personality or lens?

On the trail, in life and business, perceptions and beliefs drive behaviors. To ensure we have the right actions or behaviors we must consider when perception is bending the message.

Have a great day!