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.