Keynote speaker: definition, training, prospects for success

Reading time 14 minutes
Keynote speaker: definition, training, prospects for success

Do you have a dream of making it as a keynote speaker? What would that dream feel like for you?

You on a stage, the spotlight is on you, your heart is pounding, the applause is slowly dying down - and now is your big moment.

You take a deep breath and start your keynote. The audience listens to you spellbound, because you are the keynote speaker everyone has been waiting for.

Maybe sometimes you have thoughts in your head that just need to get out. Stories you want to tell. Anecdotes with which you make everyone think.

You want to share all this with the world, you want to touch and inspire others with your stories.

As a keynote speaker, you have the opportunity to bring topics you care about or even products you believe in to a large audience. However, many do not yet dare to take the step to become a Speaker training to go.

Often because they think the market is completely oversaturated. It is. Partially. There are tons of keynote speakers out there.

But that shouldn't be an obstacle for you. You just need to know how to leave that grey mass behind. So dare and take the step. It's worth it - and it's worth it right 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 invites the audience to reflect critically.

Keynote speakers are therefore often invited to corporate events to get the audience in the mood for a particular topic.

The keynote itself often features storytelling and personal anecdotes designed to emotionally trigger the audience.

An emotional trigger namely helps to arouse interest in the topic. This is especially important for rather dry topics that only deal with numbers, data and facts.

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

This means the clever combination of knowledge and entertainment. And these are ultimately the two most important qualities that a good keynote speaker must possess.

On the one hand, he must master rhetoric at the highest level. On the other hand, he must be an expert in a certain field (e.g. digitalization).

When this is the case, a good keynote speaker can make a big impact. Steve Jobs can be mentioned here as a prime example.

Basically, he has made a topic that many consider boring (computers) presentable. And he did this by cleverly combining dry knowledge with entertainment.

Is there training for keynote speakers

How does one actually become a keynote speaker? Can anyone make it to the big stage? Is there a corresponding training?

One thing up front: keynote speaker is not a protected job title. Basically, anyone can call themselves one. However, there are only a few keynote speakers who really understand their craft.

So, if one's goal is to enrich the world with one's knowledge and a special message, then one should also consider appropriate training.

In such a training you get the necessary knowledge at hand, with which you learn to control the stage effectively!

In a training for keynote speakers you learn which techniques you can use to inspire the audience and convince them of your content.

The key word here is: Rhetoric! And rhetoric is a craft like any other. That means: You can learn it. With the right methods and a little practice, you too can make the leap onto the big stage.

Overview: Here's what you'll learn in keynote speaker training:

  • How to build a Keynote systematically
  • How to communicate your message clearly
  • How to inspire and engage the audience
  • How to use rhetorical stylistic devices skilfully
  • How to trigger the emotions of your audience

You want to become a keynote speaker yourself? Make the leap onto the big stage? Here you'll find out all the information you need to succeed.

What motivates people to want to become keynote speakers?

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the same difference as between lightning and a firefly.

Mark Twain

#1 Getting a message out to the world

Want to make the world a better place as a keynote speaker? Then the stage is the perfect place to make your voice heard. It's where you can communicate your thoughts clearly and get them out into the world.

Because sometimes all it takes is one speech to change the world. Martin Luther King's speech "I have a dream" is the best example of this. It was heard by millions of people at the same time and led to all of America rising up against racism.

#2 Become more successful professionally

As a keynote speaker you can make your company better known. The stage is also a perfect platform for individual entrepreneurs such as trainers, coaches and consultants to draw attention to themselves.

Big companies like Apple, Tesla or Nike have done it before. In perfectly rehearsed keynotes, products are marketed, hype is created and awareness is rapidly raised to the next level.

#3 Improve rhetoric

Rhetoric is becoming increasingly important in many professions. Whether in company presentations, in meetings or in customer discussions. Wherever people meet, rhetoric is the key to success.

This means that if you've mastered the stage as a keynote speaker, you'll master any other situation where communication is crucial.

#4 Improve comfort zone

Do you often feel insecure in conversations? Do you have the right answer on the tip of your tongue, but you don't dare to speak up? Do you want to be able to express your opinion successfully in any situation?

Then the stage is the perfect place for you to get out of your comfort zone. Because as a keynote speaker you will learn aplomb, linguistic finesse and the ability to convince people of your ideas.

#5 Helping other people

Does it make you sad that many people often do not unfold their full potential? Have you also not been able to develop your full potential for a long time? Is this the reason why you want to become the designer of your life?

Then the stage is the right place for you. As a keynote speaker, you have the opportunity to motivate, inspire and help people finally reach their full potential.

What benefits do you get from being a keynote speaker?

"Developing the ability to speak is one of the first tasks of education for life."

Adolph Diesterweg

Advantage 1: You positioning yourself as an expert

Without a top positioning you don't have a unique selling proposition. This means that you will be lost in the market. However, if you position yourself sharply as a keynote speaker in your industry, you are guaranteed to gain the attention of your target group.

With a unique selling proposition, you stand out from your competitors, which means that you will be better perceived by your target group. Therefore, as a keynote speaker, be sure to clearly elaborate your positioning.

Advantage 2: You stand out from the competition

By positioning yourself at the top, you stand out from the competition. You establish yourself as a leading expert in your industry and thus gain a competitive advantage. This means: You automatically gain new customers through your reputation.

Here again Apple is a good example: Through Steve Jobs' perfect staging, products like the iPhone, the Mac or the iPad have burned themselves into people's heads. You too can succeed as a keynote speaker.

Advantage 3: You increase your reach

Imagine giving a keynote and then uploading it to YouTube. What do you think the result would be? That's right! More and more people would become aware of you and your content.

To that end, sometimes a single keynote is all it takes to take off. Imagine if Steve Jobs had never given a keynote about the iPhone. Do you think Apple would have been one of the most successful companies in the world for years?

Advantage 4: You automatically gain new customers

The reach you generate as a keynote speaker automatically leads to more new customers. Because as soon as your speeches have found their way onto the internet, customers come automatically.

That in turn is a huge lever for your business. And who knows - maybe your path will lead you to the stage of Greator one day. In any case, we would be very happy about that!

Advantage 5: You increase your popularity at work

Being a good keynote speaker will also get you ahead in your company. Because if you are good with words, then you are also able to motivate your employees.

This way, your colleagues pull together, which also increases productivity immensely. Your employees will always be motivated and go the extra mile for mutual success.

Becoming a Keynote Speaker: How to build your presentation

Rhetoric is the ability to turn words into shackles.

David Tatuljan

How exactly a keynote must be structured, we would like to tell you in a few moments. All in all, every good speech consists of five parts that need to be considered. These were already defined in ancient times and are still valid today.

#1 Inventio (The Preparation)

Before you hit the ground running as a keynote speaker, it's all about answering some important questions and preparing yourself properly. Among them:

  1. What is the occasion of your keynote? Example: Company presentation, customer presentation, festive speech.
  2. Who is the target audience of your keynote? Example: Employees, decision makers, voters, customers.
  3. What is the core message of your keynote? Example: Sugar leads to diabetes, rhetoric can be learned, digitalization is important.
  4. What do you want the impact of your keynote to be? Example: convince, motivate, inform, instruct.
  5. What is the goal of your keynote? Example: Entertaining audiences, attracting customers, imparting knowledge.

#2 Dispositio (The outline)

Being a keynote speaker is also about structuring your content properly. Here you need to answer the following questions:

  1. How do I start my keynote? Example: Personal Experience, Customer Experience, Historical Example.
  2. Which arguments are important? Example: Data, personal reference values.
  3. How do I engage the audience? Example: Question and answer session, exercises, challenge.
  4. Do I have any proof of what I'm saying? Example: Case studies, personal experience, testimonials.
  5. What is the appeal to the audience? Example: instructing, expanding consciousness, becoming active.

3 Elocutio (The Refinement)

The third step is to refine the speech stylistically and linguistically. Here it is necessary to answer the following questions:

  1. Who is my audience? Example: Work colleagues, potential clients, scientists.
  2. Which presentation media do I use? Example: Flipchart, powerpoint, one-player.
  3. How do I speak to the audience? Example: simple sentences, foreign words, "duzen", "siezen".

#4 Memoria (The Memorization)

Your speech is now written. But how can it be easily stored in the head? How does a good keynote speaker manage to remember his keynote?

After all, you don't want to be unsure of yourself on stage when it counts. Therefore, here are a few useful tips that you can use to remember your speech well:

  • Make a cue sheet
  • Use a memo technique
  • Use a PowerPoint presentation
  • Learn only key points by heart

#5 Actio (The implementation)

Now it's time to get down to business! But before it finally starts, you have to give your Keynote presentation put the finishing touches. After all, it is also important to consider the non-verbal part of a speech. Here are a few aspects you can pay attention to.

  • Mimic
  • Gestures
  • Voice
  • Speech speed

Are you also looking for more tips for keynote speakers? Here we have prepared for you 25 tips that will help you prepare a speech.

5 rhetoric tips for keynote speakers

Rhetoric is a craft. That means it can be learned! For you, too. All you need are the right methods. The rest is practice.

Even well-known keynote speakers like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Tony Robbins put a lot of work into their rhetorical skills. Or to put it in a nutshell: No master ever fell from the sky.

Overview: These rhetorical stylistic devices help you noticeably in practice

The 10-second rule

The first 10 seconds of your keynote will determine how your presentation is received. It is important that you capture the audience's attention right from the start.

You can do this by winning your keynote with a rhetorical question. Example: "Are you tired of your co-workers getting all the credit even though you work overtime by the hour every day?"

Another way to grab the audience's attention from the start is to tell a personal story. Example: Just three years ago, I couldn't pay the rent on my apartment by myself. I was penniless and torn apart inside. How I managed the way out of my life crisis, I would like to reveal to you today."

Clear beats clever

Speak in short sentences. Avoid rambling. Bring your message to the point. Because the motto for keynote speakers is: clear beats clever. And always!

Why? Clear messages stay in the minds of the listeners. Complicated box sentences only confuse. At best, your sentences should contain no more than 12 words.

Imagine how badly advertising would work if there was no clear message in slogans. Nobody would know companies like Apple (think different), Nike (just do it) or Redbull (gives wings).

Audience interaction

In the past, keynote speakers stood in front of the lectern and simply rattled off their content. A keynote of this kind has a university character and is not particularly well received by the audience.

The crucial keyword here is: Interaction!

As a keynote speaker, you can involve the audience by asking questions, for example. You can then take up the answers and incorporate them into your keynote.

But you can also do group exercises like Meditations or do thought experiments that invite the audience to participate directly.

Alternatively, you can bring one of the audience members on stage to demonstrate an exercise with them.

Use breaks in a targeted manner

Don't just rattle off your content. Use pauses purposefully. On the one hand, they build up tension. And on the other hand, they help the audience to process the content better.

You should also pay attention to the speed at which you speak. Don't speak too fast. Emphasize crucial words so that they stand out and stick better in the minds of the audience.

Because you usually have 15 minutes for a keynote. And it is important that every sentence is to the point and sits.

Use body language in a targeted manner

You don't only talk with your mouth, but also with your body. And that's why it's important how you move on stage.

Pay particular attention to a straight posture. This signals self-confidence. Also use your hands. This makes your keynote more lively. Move on stage as well. This makes your keynote more lively.

However, do not overdo it here. Too much gesticulation looks hectic and this hecticness is transmitted to the audience. It also makes you seem nervous and incompetent.

Want to learn how to put the above points into practice? Then apply now for our training program and become a Greator-Speker.

The 12 worst mistakes as a keynote speaker

"Let your tongue speak what your heart thinks."

Davy Crockett

You can also make many mistakes on stage. Now you can find out which mistakes keynote speakers often make that cost them the sympathy of the audience.

Basically, they are mistakes that are easy to avoid. With a little practice, you can easily avoid the mistakes. Once you do, you'll look much more confident and professional when you're on stage.

1. start boring

Please don't hand out acoustic sleeping pills to your audience at the beginning. If you don't surprise your audience in the first 10 seconds of your speech, you've lost them. They won't listen to you for the rest of your speech and they will wander off. Thus, only bad keynote speakers start boring.

2. provide too much information

Don't bombard your audience with too much input. Even your number-crazy boss can only remember two or three points at the end of your presentation. So leave out anything that doesn't support your core message or can lead to confusion. And don't forget to summarize the essence of your talk at the end.

3. do not include entertaining elements

If your presentation lacks exciting details, interesting quotes, funny pictures, quirky facts or the like, your audience's interest is immediately lost. If you only tell dry facts without integrating them into stories, you will have quickly lost your attention to Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook on the mobile phones of your audience. Unfortunately, only average keynote speakers do that.

4. do not make eye contact

You want to create trust and credibility? Then don't underestimate the importance of eye contact! If you do not consciously look your audience in the eye, they will not feel addressed. But be careful not to overdo it! If you fixate on a person for too long, they may feel oppressed.

5. too few pauses in speech

Many of us don't like speaking in front of large groups. Please realize that trying to finish as quickly as possible is not a good solution. If you don't give space to what you're saying by pausing after important information or changes of thought, your audience won't remember much. The same goes for speaking too fast, by the way. A good keynote speaker should therefore ensure a comfortable speaking pace.

6. bad body language

We could write an entire "No Go" book on this point. Let's limit ourselves to the most important ones:

below-the-belt manoeuvres create a negative effect on the audience. So please avoid at all costs!

Crossed legs lead to an unstable, crooked stance. This makes you look awkward and insecure.

Wandering around without a destination:
If you're not heading for a concrete target like a flip chart, your rambling comes across as an awkward dodge and suddenly you've lost your reputation as "the nervous keynote speaker."

Gesticulating too much is just as bad as the typical "rigor mortis". Moving is good and loosens up, but please not too extreme.

Hide and seek: Please do not use the lectern, your notes or your folded arms to hide from your audience. Even if this behavior gives you a sense of security, it comes across as insecurity to your audience. After all, as a keynote speaker, you are the center of attention.

7. overfilled foils

For example, if you work with PowerPoint, please don't pack your slides too full! If your audience has to concentrate on your speech and reading a desert of text at the same time, you've already lost them.

8. "Thank you for your attention"

Yawn! This all-too-frequently used closing phrase gives rise to the suspicion that the keynote speaker himself is aware that his words were actually an imposition. If you end your presentation with a substantive sentence, it will reverberate in the minds of your audience as your final thought. Isn't that much better?

9. handout too long

Many keynote speakers make the mistake of creating a handout that mirrors their presentation 1 to 1. This is bullshit! A handout should be self-explanatory, unlike your presentation. So for the handout, you'll probably still need to add a few elements.

10. do not practice

No time is no excuse. A presentation that is not practiced will immediately be noticed negatively by the audience. If you don't at least take the time to talk through the beginning and end of your presentation out loud - and preferably in front of a test audience - you're giving away a lot of potential.

11. too little self-confidence

Your knees shake at the mere thought of giving a speech in front of more than 10 people? Sweaty palms and a racing pulse included? Don't drive yourself crazy. It's normal. Even for seasoned keynote speakers. No one expects you to give a Martin Luther King-style speech the first time. And any person who wants to give creative speeches and present excitingly can learn the skills to do so. That's a promise!

12. take yourself too seriously

This point does NOT mean that you should not take your presentation seriously. BUT: If you do make a mistake, get lost or have a blackout - don't see it as the end of the world! Take a deep breath, laugh at yourself, and move on. Because even the most famous keynote speakers make mistakes.

What does a keynote speaker earn?

Eloquence is the artwork of thought.

Blaise Pascal

What does a keynote speaker earn? What fees can top speakers like Barack Obama, Tony Robbins or Tobias Beck expect? And above all - can I do the same?

The truth is: Only very few keynote speakers can count on an honorarium of 10,000€ and more. But that's not so bad. Because even a keynote speaker who is just at the beginning of his career can earn good money.

Even as a beginner, you can ask for a fee of 1,000 to 3,000 euros. With 4 lectures you would earn between 4,000 and 12,000 euros. This is already an attractive sum for the beginning.

A professional keynote speaker already receives between 3,000 and 6,000 euros. With 4 presentations per month, that would be 12,000 to 24,000 euros. With that, you already belong to the top earners.

That's a lot of money. And that's with only four lectures a month. Of course, that's not the end of the line. Keynote speakers who are considered a top brand in their field even demand fees of €50,000 upwards. But it takes time and a good reputation to get there.

Lots of top speakers like Barack Obama, Les Brown or Tony Robbins eventually built their reputation over several years and decades before they could charge such high fees.

To cut to the chase: There's a good living to be made as a keynote speaker. Even as a beginner. All you need is a suitable niche, a unique selling point, a solid appearance, good marketing and, of course, a lot of practice.


Conclusion: As a keynote speaker you can get your message out to the world

There is only one rule to becoming a good speaker - learn to listen.

Christopher Morley

In this article, you learned what it means to be a keynote speaker, what skills you need to do it, what mistakes to avoid, and what opportunities are open to you.

If you want to become a keynote speaker, you'll get the right resources if you're looking for them. You get the right mentors if you're looking for them. And you get your stage - if you really want to walk the path to it.

But where do you go from here? What steps can you take next to get started as a keynote speaker? To help you succeed, we have something very special for you at the end.

We would like to invite you to the online seminar "How to Become a Successful Speaker" invite.

In the online seminar, Greator founders Dr. Stefan Frädrich and Alexander Müller reveal how you can make your breakthrough as a keynote speaker and how you can make the leap onto the big Greator stage.

You can register now for the online seminar "How to become a successful speaker". Register now and participate for free!

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