By Mark Cowne, Co-Founder at Kruger Cowne
The keynote. The first sound to punctuate the silence before a musical melody begins. It sets the tone for the whole piece – without it, the tune runs the risk of drifting away from the notes on the page. The keynote speaker serves this exact purpose; they are the ‘tone-setters’ of meetings, conferences and events. Sadly, the importance of a talented keynote speaker does not always receive the same recognition, often being overlooked and under-prioritised. Yet the power of personality is a force to be reckoned with, and an effective keynote speaker has the potential to commercially impact not just your event, but your company productivity and your corporate future.
A keynote speaker is a personality or industry expert who is hired to explain an event theme in an effective and memorable way. They should be emblematic of the key message, capturing the event’s essence, and tie together its various themes. A keynote speaker is often an expert in a specific field as well as an accomplished orator who can win and, importantly, sustain the interest of an audience so that they leave the event informed and inspired.
So why aren’t more people singing the praises of the keynote speaker? It is often assumed that a professional speaker is an unnecessary or extravagant addition to an event, with other aspects, such as music, catering and décor, being more deserving of both attention and budget. If the message or theme of your event isn’t of great importance, then this could well be true – but what if your event has something to say? What if the whole purpose of the event is to raise awareness or move people to action? This is where the keynote speaker hits all the right notes.
A well-known or expert personality can create a fanfare around an event, raising interest and enticing potential attendees. Every event wants a full house and hiring a keynote speaker is an effective way of putting people on seats. By selecting a keynote speaker who is well known for his or her expertise in a particular field, or who is widely recognised due to their accomplishments, you will raise enthusiasm among prospective attendees, creating a buzz of excitement around your event before it has even begun.
A buzz of excitement means a buzz of media attention. Raising public awareness is particularly important if your convention or event is about a little-known cause, charity, or business. Increased media interest in your speaker and your event will put your cause or company on the map and will have a lasting effect, raising its profile before, during and after the event. This is an important consideration.
An eminent and respected keynote speaker, with a wealth of expertise behind them relating to your topic, will also add credibility to your company, brand or cause and makes the person or organisation behind the event look well informed, well connected and well supported. A talented keynote speaker boosts the integrity of your message, as the majority of the people will associate it with the popular personality in question. We live in a world of creditability via association; one only has to look at the profitable world of celebrity endorsement to realise that “it is not what you know but who you know” and a well-known keynote speaker can do wonders for your event and your brand’s reputation.
Yet the beauty of the keynote speaker is that they are not just there for their reputation or skills in public speaking, but also for their knowledge of the topic in hand; when it comes to the keynote speaker, in actual fact, it is who you know and what they know. Their experience or expert knowledge not only adds extra weight to their words but makes people feel privileged to receive their insight. The simple fact that a highly successful personality is giving away their expertise is enough to have the audience enthusiastically sitting up and taking note.
Moreover, an accomplished keynote speaker has the ability to portray the theme of an event from a whole new and exciting perspective. Humans are social creatures, we are motivated to action through other people, and a keynote speaker has a unique opportunity to take advantage of this. Professional speakers have the tools to inspire an audience and when a group of people gets inspired they tend to absorb more information, are more inclined to adopt new outlooks and, ultimately, to act.
The right speaker can give real impetus to your event message. According to one set of statistics, listening to a keynote speaker increases workforce productivity by about three to five percent over the following six months. This is without considering the financial benefits that you can gain through sponsorship, increased website traffic and, potentially, increased SEO (think social media engagement from excited delegates). Given that the price of a keynote with a profile starts at around £5,000, bottom end, the spend starts to look less extravagant and more like an enterprising decision.
The power of an entertaining and educational keynote speaker is something that is frequently underestimated, despite having the ability to take an otherwise mediocre presentation and turn it into a polished and motivating product, therefore giving you company or cause an excellent return on investment. They have the reputation, the knowledge and the personality to invigorate and inspire an audience. So if you want your event to strike a chord, the best advice: hire a keynote.
Mark Cowne is Co-Founder of Kruger Cowne