10 Strategies to Supercharge Conference and Meeting Keynotes

ConferenceWhile keynote slots and general session panels are often reserved for speakers with celebrity status, some of them miss the mark. Some are one-way presentations with little or no interaction with the audience; others are not relevant to attendees.

Here are 10 tips to unleash more power and impact from your conference keynotes.

  1. Crowdsourcing content and customization are key.
    The more speakers understand about the challenges that attendees face, the easier it will be for them to deliver customized content. At minimum, conference planners and speakers (or, in the case of celebrities, their representatives) should crowdsource the content through participant profiles and interviews. When possible, for keynotes to be delivered to corporate clients, speakers or their representatives should try to go out on a couple of sales calls, spend a few hours with a construction crew or do call center"sit-ins".
  2. Ask speakers to kick things off by setting the context.
    Give 2 or 3 really specific examples of the situations the participants face daily.
  3. Get speakers to wrap their own experiences around key take-aways or lessons for participants.
    This will make it easier for participants to bridge between their own and the speaker's experience (e.g. bungee jumping).
  4. Ensure that the take-aways are customized for your company or industry (in the case of association conferences).
  5. Keep it upbeat interactive and fun.
  6. Keynote ExerciseGive participants an opportunity to reflect in groups or pairs on how they can use the key take-aways when they return to the office.
  7. Get a few participants up on stage to share how they plan to apply the take-aways when they return to work.
  8. Wrap up by providing other specific examples of how the speaker's experience can be applied in the business world.
  9. Follow-up a few weeks later to give participants an opportunity to discuss how they are applying what they learned from the keynote and receive additional coaching and tips from the speaker.
    This can be done face-to-face or through a Twitter chat or in a Google+ hangout.
  10. Work in tandem with a professional facilitator. If availably, distance or skill set make it challenging for speakers or their representatives to complete 1 - 2, 6-7, or 9, engage a professional facilitator to work in tandem with the keynote speaker.

These 10 strategies can transform keynotes to engaging and relevant sessions that hit the mark by delivering material that participants can actually use when they return to work.

For more strategies to supercharge meetings and conferences, also consult Corporate Event Planning: Working with Speakers and Facilitators, 12 Strategies to Engage Conference and Meeting Participants, Re-shaping Sales Rallies with 10 Trade Show Best Practices, and Q&A Doesn't Make Your Conference Session Interactive on the Cvent Event Blog.

Photo Credit: Keynotes and Facilitation, Executive Oasis International

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