I swear to you this isn’t one of those posts about Donald Trump and the ongoing train wreck that is his current PR campaign. Honestly, this is about selecting a keynote speaker that’s right for your group. Here’s the setup. I attended a conference a couple of years back with a focus on leadership and running your own business. And in all fairness to the organizers I knew that Donald Trump was the keynote speaker. They were promoting his appearance as if this were a major coup, if you can believe that. I remember thinking at the time how strange that was but I figured maybe the organization (which shall remain nameless) was trying to draw on his brand recognition as an attendance grabber. When it came time for the Donald’s address, I thought to myself: okay I’m going to sit through this to see if there’s any shred of credible advice that this man could offer me on being an entrepreneur.
I tried. I really, really tried to sit through his address. But I just couldn’t. So rather than wasting energy trying to suppress the urge to heckle him, I figured I’d be a professional, for once, and just simply leave the session until he was done and gone! As I walked out into the foyer of the convention hall it hit me! Good God, they had that man’s voice blasting through every speaker in the conference hall. There was no escape for me or the other people who had opted to give “the Donald” a pass!
A Keynote Speaker Reflects Your Brand
I wondered why the organization didn’t select someone who was more inspirational and a less, self- aggrandizing blowhard!, So many from whom to choose; What about that guy who cut his salary so he could pay his people more?; or Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl that survived a Taliban shooting (all because she wanted an education); or Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger for petes sake! Who doesn’t want to hear from the man who successfully landed a jumbo jet in the Hudson River? You know, real people who have actually done something great with their lives and who are an inspiration to others. But oh no, there I was listening to Donald Trump tell the audience about his epic leadership skills and how everyone just loves him. (NOTE: My sincere apologies to those of you who just threw up in your mouths a little bit).
Tips on Selecting a Great Keynote Speaker
Michael Frick, Owner of SPEAKING.com, tells MasterTheEvent.com that if you’re planning on bringing in a polarizing figure to speak to your group; an activist or a person who is known for strong political views, you should try, in advance, to gauge your audience’s “leanings” – political, activist or otherwise..
Michael Also Provided Us with These Helpful Tips on Picking a Keynote Speaker:
- Know as much about your audience as possible: age range, interests, professions, career interests, challenges they might be experiencing, etc.
- Define your overall event goals and identify the type of speaker you think would best compliment those goals.
- Decide on the speaker agenda before approaching speakers, IE: time and length of the presentation, and any extra time commitments such as book signings, VIP meet and greet, meal with executives, etc.