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What is a keynote speaker?

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

How to start getting those lucrative speaking engagements

When you hire a keynote speaker they are the main key note to a speaking event, or you may even be the only speaker or one of perhaps two or three. This is where you get the ‘key’ from this. It goes without saying that you need to be confident to speak because you're the main event - no pressure at all then.

Can you hold your audience’s attention?

Whatever your subject is, it must hold your audience until the end, whether it's motivating people to follow your lead or example, to do what you're suggesting, or to take onboard some ideas you really feel will change people's lives for the better -

You want them to be compulsively listening. You want to leave your audience with the feeling they can forge ahead and achieve what you have done. No matter the odds, no matter the hurdles.

Balance, enthusiasm and challenges

You need to emphasise your point without patronising or coming across as too preachy. You want to fill your audience with enthusiasm and leave them wanting more, not feeling dejected and crestfallen at their own failings.

Achieving a careful balance then is key, your talk needs to make what you’re talking about achievable and a challenge that’s within arms reach if they want it badly enough.

Closing an event with an engaging speech is every bit as important as opening one

If your talk is at the end of an event then closing is every bit as important as opening it. Again, an emphasis on a dynamic and compelling talk is crucial. Whatever inspiration you impart will be based on your own efforts and experiences before coming.

You will want to leave your audience wanting more, perhaps to do business with you, to hire you or buy your book. If this is the case then you need to be careful of the tone you set and that what you have to say is both positive and inspiring.

So, positive and inspiring check, dynamic and compelling check. BUT, before that you have to put all your poops in a scoop or all your ducks in a row. WHO is your audience, WHERE is your audience and WHY are you speaking to them?

If you do nothing else but speak then you've probably got that one under your belt by now through practice and repetition, but if you're just starting out then you may be finding it hard to pinpoint exactly who it is you're speaking to.

2. Who is your audience?

The crossover from what you were doing before, to what you're doing now may be terrifying, or perhaps you're confident and not phased by it at all. It takes time to feel confident and reasonably comfortable on stage and only practice will make it better. If you have an original idea, a story that's going to smack people between the eyes then that's even better. But be prepared.

5. Content and building authority

If on the other hand you're not a seasoned speaker and you want to become one, this isn't going to happen overnight. You need to be known for your subject, known to a wider audience, your key target audience for your ideas and your story.

This will take time to build. And it can be done in a variety of different ways. I've known speakers become well known for having an opinion or experiences that have only been shared on Twitter.

They've spoken about it time and again at a time when they know their audience is present and have seen their followers grow. Of course, if you're familiar with Twitter you'll know that once you achieve around 30k followers you're classed as an 'influencer,' and get your blue tick. For some, this has led to motivational speaking engagements, or they've started pitching for them.

But how do you book paid speaking engagements?

I am not a motivational speaker, although I like the idea of it, and I would like to make a tentative step towards that by very, very carefully building momentum and authority in my area, yes caution is my middle name.

In my defense, I’ve been a copywriter for many years and I know how hard it is to gain traction, momentum (keep it going) and gain the power of visibility over weeks, months and years. It is far better to do it at a reasonable pace than race ahead and get it wrong.

It takes careful planning, and no matter what people say, there’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes for those people to have gained the influence they now have. It never happens overnight.

This is even harder if you’re an introvert like me, I’m extremely shy. But having said that I could try to do this via Twitter perhaps, this is the platform where I feel the most comfortable. (let's run with this)

I’d need to make sure I use the right hashtags, I’d have to consider writing what's known as 'threads' which seem to gain more traction, these are several linked tweets all on the same theme or subject. I’d also need to increase my follower count to around 30k to be considered an influencer and a potential speaker.

I’d need a substantial audience first, because I can't run before I can walk. I currently have nearly 3k followers. That would involve a LOT of work. In order to book paid speaking engagements, it would have to start with authority building via content so I could increase my visibility.

I could create a new website on my particular subject or set of ideas, perhaps a more simple eye grabbing landing or home page, where I could place all my blogs, articles, interviews, videos. A place where all my content could sit and where people could find it. A website that would be my walking, talking portfolio for all the world to see.

Global is good.

This can be a long and arduous path but it would be worth it. I truly believe I have ideas, thoughts and experiences worth sharing and that it would resonate with a wider audience.

Because self-belief is everything, right?

The most important thing is that YOU believe it, because if you don’t neither will your audience. Believe in yourself and they will come, but not without hard work.

For some people it comes quicker while others spend a long time building momentum.

It can depend on whether what you have to say captures the zeitgeist of the day, the moment.

You could be talking about a topic that’s become a hotly debated one, and a subject you have direct experience of. In which case, grab that moment and make the most of it.

To reach this point you don't necessarily have to build authority on a social media channel like Twitter, but wait, hang on a minute - what is 'building your authority?' Building your authority means creating content that demonstrates your expertise in any given area, this is done offline as well as on.

Before you get speaking engagements or a book published, you'll need to have built some authority around your subject area and you can get this by creating content that backs-up who you are, your expertise and/or your ideas.

It doesn't have to be the written word but it helps. Video, podcasts, webinars, stories on Instagram, Tik Tok (yes, I know) also count.

If you use written content, you need SEO to help your articles, tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, LinkedIn articles rank on Google. The more people see and hear you the better.​​​​​​​

6. Storytelling - you need to have a story to tell

So what IS your story?

Imagine me leaning in with one hand under my chin, my arms resting on my knees, looking directly at you.

Intense right?

But you need to get serious on what your story is. It needs to be one that will resonate with your key audience. It needs to be one with a beginning, a middle and an end, it needs to be powerful.

We need everyone to see it, hear it and read about it. It needs to resonate and it needs to be relevant. We're not talking about something that rambles on with several disastrous events that aren’t linked, just one key moment you can talk about that you know people need to hear.

You can be vulnerable, you can have a story that's raw and deeply personal, as long as it has clarity, a purpose and a point to it. It's storytelling with purpose and intent.

Want to know how to start speaking at conferences?

Start with your story, share it, talk about it, create content on it, repurpose that content, be visible and build your audience (and in a way that serves you and that feels comfortable to you), get in people's faces with it and put in the hard work, and then the speaking engagements will come.

If you think you might need help with content creation, if you think you might want to take advantage of one of my packages or you want something more bespoke, get in touch and let's talk.

You can also subscribe to my email list here:

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