As someone who was invited to be a keynote speaker I know how important it is to ensure that the speaker and their subject resonates with the audience. I was speaking at a Britmums conference aimed for bloggers who mostly had sites with a family focus so my speech was quite lighthearted and targeted - I spoke about how my opinions on quite a lot of parenting matters has changed after actually having children!
Choosing a Speaker
Choosing a speaker can be more complicated than you'd think - anyone knows asking a Foie Gras producer to speak at a vegan conference would be a terrible idea but sometimes differences in ideology can be harder to predict.
Sometimes however people just make bad choices when booking. I once saw a famous comedian known for his left wing lean and rather edgy routines corpse multiple times at a very middle class family-focussed early evening event. Frustrated by apathy and even the odd "boo" he resorted to personal abuse and finally walked off stage - not his finest hour!
You need someone who is comfortable speaking to an audience, has something to talk about that they will be interested in and who basically has something in common with them whether that is an interest, ideology or industry.
Know Your Audience
Humour can be very subjective and what's appropriate with a small group in the pub or at a dinner party might not sit so well with 300 people in a hotel function room. And choosing someone who shares your views and humour might feel like a good move but will their typical style work with the group you are hoping to engage?
Does your event involve people from different countries and/or cultures? A lengthy speech for people with limited English could leave them bored. Or failing to allow for a different set of views or sense of humour could cause distress or even anger - you don't want to cause a rift with your international colleagues and clients.
Educate or Entertain?
I've been to many events featuring a keynote speaker and the vibe has varied depending on whether the organisers are trying to educate or entertain. Of course a good keynote speaker should do both but it's hard to get chuckles when you are focussing on tackling poverty in the third world or other gritty issues.
Is the event mostly a jolly? Or an awards ceremony? Or a serious conference? Look for a speaker who can enhance the experience whether with anecdotes from celebrity life or their professional experience. If your aim is to excite and inspire your audience check out motivational speaker agencies to find a keynote speaker who will leave attendees talking about your event for years to come.
Why Pay for a Speaker?
It might be temping to ask Bob from marketing to stand up and have a go saving a few pounds as he's always soooo entertaining at the Christmas party, but on the whole it's better to find a professional speaker who is experienced in giving keynote speeches, can follow a brief and is maybe someone your audience would be excited to see and hear.
A professional may supply their own resources/media and even the equipment required to present. Just make sure they don't intend to subject the audience to death by Power Point - we've all been to those events where someone just reads out what's on the screen!
At the end of the day you have spent a lot of time, energy and money planning what you hope will be the perfect event. The keynote speaker is one of the most important aspects of many events so it's vital to ensure it is the highlight of your "do".