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4 Secrets For Hiring An Inspirational Keynote Speaker

Written by on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 with 0 comments

Evan Bailyn giving an inspirational keynote speech

Inspiration is a tough quality to peg down in a keynote speaker.  It consists of one part passion, one part presence of mind, and one part bravery.  The combination results in a speaking engagement that stirs the heart, gives people hope, and makes the audience want to live a better life.  This state of being can arise around any subject matter; I know this for a fact because I strive to inspire my audience even when I’m speaking about a subject as technical-seeming as digital marketing.

In truth, it is not the topic, but the delivery and perspective of the speaker that causes attendees to walk away saying “wow.”  Here are 5 things to look for when hiring an inspirational keynote speaker:

1. A speaker who is inspirational on and off the stage.  I am of the school that believes that an inspirational speaker needs to truly live an exemplary life if we are to trust his advice.  I have been to too many speeches where I got the sense that the keynote speaker doesn’t walk his talk.  A quick Google search often confirms this fact: a sales speaker who seems to be hurting for new business; an SEO speaker whose website doesn’t rank for any keywords; a happiness expert who gets into nasty debates on public forums.  Your audience deserves a speaker who genuinely lives his message – so research your speaker to ensure this is so.

2. A desire to interact with the audience.  One of the great advantages that a live speech has over a recorded speech is the potential for the audience to be affected by the energy in the room.  Fans who attend great concerts that are later broadcasted on television will tell you that the living room experience can’t quite stack up to the live experience.  For that reason, an inspirational keynote speaker has an incredible opportunity: to talk to the audience before, during, and after his speech.  Real lives are affected by a talented inspirational speaker and there is nothing quite as impactful as face-to-face connection.  Be sure to ask a potential keynote speaker about his interactivity with the audience both inside and outside of his speech.

hugging during an inspirational speech

This speech was so inspirational that an audience member came up to hug the speaker.


3. A message that lasts.  The best inspirational keynotes are more like a nutritious meal than a sugary piece of candy.  They fulfill you for a while.  They give you energy.  They make you healthier.  But all too many speeches entertain you for 45 minutes and then leave you wanting more.  Like candy, they’re great for the moment, unsatisfying in the short term, and completely disappear in the long term.  What that translates to when hiring a keynote speaker is watching videos of her speeches, looking out for real take-aways.  Specificity and seriousness of purpose are other signs of speakers who have a lasting effect on their audiences.

4.  Sincerity.  If a speaker is arrogant, emotionally distant, or uninterested in his audience, he cannot be inspirational.  He can be impressive, but not inspirational.  That is why it is so essential to get to know a potential keynote speaker before hiring him.  If you get the sense that he is down-to-earth and excited to share his message – as opposed to feeling like the audience is lucky to hear him – then he is likely to have the same impact on your audience.  There is no quality more refreshing and relatable than earnestness.

I hope this blog entry has been helpful to you.  You are more than welcome to e-mail me if you have any questions or need advice about hiring an inspirational keynote speaker.

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Evan Bailyn

  • Marketing authority: Clients include Verisign, Penguin Group, USA Today, and NBC
  • International bestselling author: Wrote Outsmarting Google, Outsmarting Social Media, and SEO Made Easy
  • Sought-after speaker: One of the top-ranked speakers in the Vistage CEO network; other engagements include Search Engine Strategies, Blogworld, & TEDx
  • Proven entrepreneur: Built & sold 5 companies, including one of the largest kids websites in the world
  • Philanthropist: Evan Bailyn Foundation supports kids and Women Rock It unites women
  • Areas of expertise: SEO, thought leadership, entrepreneurship

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