Many people don’t really know what keynote speakers exactly are because they are more familiar with specific titles, like motivational speakers, commencement speakers, and others. However, aspiring keynote speakers should never get their own job description wrong.
Here are the misconceptions and facts about the job.
1.A keynote speaker is entirely different from a motivational speaker.
Fact: A motivational speaker is just one of the many types of keynote speakers who take different roles in various events. He may not be a motivational speaker, but a motivational speaker almost always delivers a keynote speech. Motivating the audience is just one task that keynote speakers fulfill, depending on the theme of the event.
2.A keynote speaker only delivers a keynote speech.
Fact: The term “keynote speech” is actually broad because it also includes those that are not really a speech by structure. Basically, it pertains to the keynote, which is the main speech in an event. However, it can also mean seminar, workshop, learning session, or even impromptu entertainment. It really depends on the demand of the event.
3.There is only one keynote speaker in an event.
Fact: He is the main speaker in an event, but there may be multiple main speakers with equal time allotments in a single event. For an event that only lasts for an hour or two, there may be a single speaker. However, it is also true that a whole-day event may have more than five speakers who will deliver the key topics.
4.Keynote speakers are the most important speakers in any event.
Fact: That is somehow true but not directly. It is more appropriate to say that the keynote speech,not the one delivering it, is the most important part of the event. The term “importance” normally pertains to people with high positions and prestige. However, do remember that expertise does not always come with these privileges. A keynote speaker may be an ordinary employee who is deemed most knowledgeable about the topic (i.e. IT experts usually don’t hold high management positions).
5.Keynote speakers are always experts
Fact: This is the typical case, but when it comes to inspirational and motivational speeches, an expert is not always the best choice. “Expert” usually means knowledgeable, backed by stellar track records and impressive credentials. However, one only needs to have extensive experience plus excellent convincing power to serve as inspiration and give motivation.
6.Keynote speakers are always formal.
Fact: This is the common notion because most keynote speakers are those who have authorities in the society and in business organizations. However, formality will not always work for events that include audience participation, such as workshops, training sessions, and inspirational events.
7.Keynote speakers know everything about their topics.
Fact: They know most of the important details about their topics, but even experts don’t always know everything. Furthermore, their focus is usually on what they have just prepared, which the organizers have requested. They may not be prepared to cover other areas that some speakers may be more effective at.
8.A keynote speaker memorizes his speech.
Fact: Since most people look up to keynote speakers as experts, they also expect them to memorize their speeches and talk like machines that can go on the whole day. Here’s the thing: less than 2% of keynote speakers memorize their speeches. They either use notes or projectors.
9.Keynote speakers do not need visual presentations.
Fact: This is perhaps true for short keynote speeches, but visual presentations are normally needed for long presentations that include a lot of details, demonstrations, and illustrations. It really depends on the demand of the event.
10.Keynote speakers only speak for a few minutes.
Fact: Those who have high positions with more responsibilities usually give shorter speeches because of schedule restrictions. However, this is not true for events that last the whole day, some even lasting for several days (e.g. series of seminars).
Influence expert Garrison Wynn is a keynote speaker known for his entertaining, customized and research driven programs.