If this is the first time you are delivering a keynote speech, here are three golden rules that can help you achieve success.
1. Inform the audience what you are going to say, say it, then tell them again what you’ve just said.
This should be the structure of the speech of every keynote speaker to ensure clarity of message, but how exactly does that work?
Do not make a suspense out of your main message because more likely than not, the audience already has an idea about what it is going to be. Remember that they are aware of the theme and purpose of the event. Thus, as early as your introduction, deliver to them your points and stance without further elaboration. That should be enough to pique their curiosity to force them into listening to your speech attentively.
In the main body of your speech, tell them the reasons behind your points. Connect these points by using anecdotes that everyone can relate to, or use a comprehensive visual presentation to make them clearer.
As you near the end, do a recap for final appeal. Reiteration is the key to making a lasting impression that the audience can think about even after the event.
There are speech coaches who still recommend the introduction-body-conclusion structure for keynote presentations, though. However, it does not work for everyone because there is a tendency for this structure to lose curiosity and be replaced by boredom. If you are the type of keynote speaker who injects a lot of humor in his speech, it might work for you.
2. Treat the first 60 seconds of your speech as your lifeline.
Have you ever noticed why some keynote speakers start their speech with abrupt anecdote that makes the audience listen to find out what its relevance in the topic is? Right at the beginning, the audience is given a reason to listen because there is a tinge of mystery in the introduction. This is as opposed to the traditional blubs that make the audience go “okay, here we go.”
Accept it; most people anticipate the gist of a keynote speakers speech, not the interminable and jargon-laden sentences in between. They want to see the climax and ending and not the long conversations that only lead to the same conclusion, anyway. They already look forward to the highlight of your speech, so there is a big possibility that they will lose interest along the way.
This is why the first 60 seconds of the speech is so important. As mentioned in the first rule, a more viable structure of speech is by giving your main point and conclusion right at the beginning. This is to give the audience a clearer overview of the speech.
In this sense, you will restrict your opening salvo to the first 60 seconds. This is the time when the audience decides if your speech is worth listening to or is just another highfalutin speech with a lot of nonsense. Startle them, make it unique, or just be quirky.
3. It is not about you but about the audience.
As a keynote speaker, you are there to give a speech for the audience to benefit, not to boast about your achievements and let the audience realize that you know a lot of things that they do not know. In building credibility, it is easy to cross the bridge of becoming conceited. Always keep in mind that it is about them in spite of the fact that it is you on the limelight.
Be sensitive. Take clues from your audience’s reaction. Are they getting offended? Do they understand what you are saying? Do they laugh at your jokes? Is the venue getting noisy because the audience are already talking with each other instead of listening to you?
If necessary, make sudden and unplanned adjustments on your presentations to break the long silence or loosening grip on your statements. Keep them in check.