Successful as a keynote speaker: How to give a perfect keynote speech

Reading time 5 minutes
Successful as a keynote speaker: How to give a perfect keynote speech

More and more people dream of a career as a keynote speaker. Standing on stage, with the spotlight only on you, speaking about your heartfelt topic. 

Easier said than done. Because what actually makes a good keynote speaker? What does a keynote speaker talk about and how should a good keynote be structured?

If you want to find out what's behind the profession of keynote speaker and how you can become one too, then you should continue reading this post carefully now.

What is a keynote speaker?

A keynote speaker is an expert who shares his or her expertise on a particular topic with the audience. Keynote speakers often speak on topics related to personal development, entrepreneurship or society.

In doing so, they pursue the goal of sharing their knowledge or providing food for thought that moves the audience to critical reflection. Keynote speakers are therefore often invited to company events to get the audience present in the mood for a particular topic and to motivate them.

The keynote itself is often characterized by good Storytelling and personal anecdotes, which should emotionally engage and trigger the audience. An emotional trigger helps to awaken a deeper interest in the topic. This is especially important for rather dry topics around numbers, data and facts.

A keynote speaker is therefore not only a provider of knowledge, but also a motivator at the same time. The decisive keyword in this context is Infotainment.

Infotainment refers to the clever combination of knowledge and entertainment that a good keynote speaker should possess. This requires rhetoric at the very highest level, as well as the prerequisite, Expert in a particular field (e.g. digitization).

If a keynote speaker combines the art of infotainment with terrific rhetoric and expert knowledge, he can achieve great things. A good example of this is Steve Jobs, for example, who skillfully combined dry knowledge with entertainment and thus made a topic (computers) that many people found boring respectable.

What does a keynote speaker talk about?

The most important thing for a good keynote speaker is: a burning passion for the topic. Because every keynote speaker has a specific topic that he wants to bring closer to people. However, it is not only about pure knowledge transfer, but also about an emotional and important message for the listener.

Every good keynote should therefore have a clearly recognizable message that runs like a thread through his speech. Because that is what the audience will remember at the end of the day. And that's exactly what a good keynote speaker should aim for: a message that moves emotionally, inspires people and stays in their minds.

There are no limits to your choice of topics and the resulting message. Anika Tiegs, for example, is incredibly successful in talking about her experiences and her life change to a dominatrix. Her clear message is: "Be yourself and don't apologize for it!"

The more own experiences and emotions you have done with your topic, the more credible you come across. Your message is based not only on theoretical, but on real experiences - and that impresses and inspires.

However, it's just as important to remember that your topic may be completely new, shocking, or triggering to most listeners. Depending on the emotion you want to elicit with your keynote, you can tweak a number of different levers to achieve the desired response. 

Your keynote should be structured in such a way that the audience can follow you without any effort. You want to know how to do that? Then read on now.

What makes a good keynote?

The keynote is the backbone of any keynote speaker, as it contains the structure and thread that turns your topic into an inspiring message.

Another characteristic of a really good keynote is that it entertains and engages the audience. If you start boringly and don't build up any tension in the first 10 seconds, you will quickly lose the audience to their smartphone or the person sitting next to them.

In particular, exciting details, interesting quotes, funny pictures or bizarre facts trigger interest in your audience and you already have their attention. At the beginning of your keynote, for example, you can also pose a question or assertion that you only resolve at the end of your keynote, thus creating an arc of suspense.

Abundance of information is a quality feature

The wealth of information within your keynote is also an important quality feature. Convincing people of your topic in just 18 minutes is not that easy. That's why many keynote speakers tend to pack far too much information into their keynote, which virtually overwhelms the listener. In the worst case, your important message will not be perceived at all. So less is definitely more here.

Moreover, the power of pauses is vastly underestimated by many keynote speakers. Speakers who insert short pauses between topic sections and sentences not only give themselves, but also their audience a mental break. That way, your audience can process information better and you can catch your breath in between.

Last but not least, one thing above all is important for a good keynote: your body language and rhetoric. Nothing emphasizes your statements more than the right gestures and facial expressions. However, you should make sure that your movements do not appear too hectic and restless and rob you and your keynote of credibility.

So in summary there are 5 points, which make your keynote really good:

  • Not a boring start: The first 10 seconds of your keynote are crucial
  • Create suspenseExciting details, facts or quotes make your keynote directly more interesting.
  • Less is more: Too much information in a short time cannot be processed by your audience, so less is more
  • Take breaksLet not only your audience, but also yourself take a breath now and then and make short breaks.
  • Your body languageYour gestures and facial expressions, when used correctly, can positively support your message.
good keynote

How to become (a good) keynote speaker?

A keynote speaker who cares about delivering properly on stage and getting his message across clearly, unmistakably and inspirationally does one thing above all: practice, practice, practice!

Because your Keynote can be the best keynote in the world - if you don't work on your performance, i.e. your body language, rhetoric and stage presence, you will be less well received by the audience. After all, you are the sole entertainer on stage and all eyes are on you.

Some people are born speakers, others have to work harder to become a good keynote speaker. But how does one actually become a keynote speaker? Can anyone make it to the big stage and is there training for those who want to improve their skills?

Unprotected professional title

One thing first: The profession of "keynote speaker" is not a protected job title. Basically, anyone can call themselves one. However, there are only a few keynote speakers who have really mastered their craft and can deliver good keynotes.

In general, it can be said that you should definitely think about a corresponding keynote speaker training if you pursue the goal of enriching the world with your knowledge and your own message. Because in such a training you get the necessary tools at hand, with which you not only shine on stage, but also create a really good keynote.

You will learn which techniques you can use to inspire the audience and convince them of your content and, above all, how to say goodbye to your stage fright.

Learning rhetoric from scratch

But the most important thing you learn for your success on stage? Rhetoric! Rhetoric is a special linguistic craft that you learn from scratch in your training as a keynote speaker. With the right methods and a lot of practice, you will be able to convince your audience and establish a connection between you and them. 

So again, at a glance - this is what you learn in a keynote speaker training:

  • Systematic structure
  • Communicate message clearly
  • Inspire and captivate the audience
  • How to use rhetorical stylistic devices skilfully
  • How to trigger the emotions of your audience

Would you like to become a keynote speaker yourself and raise your rhetorical skills to a professional level? Then find out now about our Speaking training THEKEY.



Learn with professional speaker Frank Asmus captivate your audience from the very first second, cause goose bumps and earn thunderous applause!
approx. 60 minutes
Theory & practice
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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