The benefits of booking a keynote speaker

07 June 2023 3 min. read
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A long-standing tradition at events is the keynote speaker: often someone externally that is famous or a thought leader. So what exactly is the point of the keynote speaker, beyond the obvious addition of star-power to an event?

Organizing events is an integral part of the marketing and knowledge management agenda of professional services firms. Ceremonies can help celebrate top performers across the industry, while sharing their best practices with other operators in their sector. But such events can also provide value-adding input from the world beyond the niche market the event celebrates.

As exemplified by low-code software developer Appian, whose recent conference featured a keynote speech from Olympic champion Michael Johnson; or the Meat Management Industry Awards, which was infamously helmed by football legend Kevin Keegan in 2021, insight and inspiration for those in attendance can come from well beyond the realms of their own expertise.

The benefits of booking a keynote speaker

The consulting industry also regularly deploys this tactic, with TV and sports stars regularly drafted in to teach consultants about barriers they overcame and experiences they enjoyed, while helping them see their own work from a different perspective.

This outside perspective can really bring an event to life, too. In the consulting industry especially, hearing from the same figures from the same leading firms, year after year, can get stale and repetitive. There are only so many times consultants will want to see events headlined by speakers from the Big Four, or McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group.

In that case, moving to book a speaker from a different background can help keep everyone’s attention throughout a presentation – making it a more engaging and memorable event, that will keep people talking about the organizers for a long time to come.

Enriched experience

As well as helping to raise the prominence of the event and the organization behind it, getting a ‘big name’ on board helps show that the organizers are serious about providing a top experience to attendees – boosting ticket sales.

Meanwhile, at the event itself, top speakers can help energize and motivate the audience, encouraging them to engage and network with others at the event – giving them an excellent ice-breaker when it comes to striking up conversations with new contacts.

Most importantly of all, though, having a prominent figure in a certain field to serve as the keynote speaker can leave audiences feeling uplifted – empowering them to make important changes in their workplaces, or in their broader lives. The right keynote speaker will share valuable insights and highlight emerging trends; offer strategies for success in various situations; and help attendees leave the conference feeling inspired to do things differently in the coming weeks.

Plan ahead

Before hiring a keynote speaker, it is important to ensure their presentation is the right fit for the event’s topic and goals. This does not necessarily mean the keynote speaker needs to be a dyed-in-the-wool figure, but they should have at least some working knowledge of what the sector does, so that they can shape their stories and experiences around the core themes of the event.

A personalized presentation of this kind helps engage the audience, and ensures they get the most out of it. So, organizers should always plan desired content with the speaker ahead of time, so they can tailor their presentation accordingly – helping to align it with the event's goals and requirements.