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The 5 Defining Features of The Best Entrepreneurship Keynote Speakers

Written by on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 with 0 comments

Finding the right keynote speaker on entrepreneurship is deceptively difficult.  At first glance, it seems like there are too many choices.  Hundreds of successful entrepreneurs have launched into the public eye over the last decade, many of them internet success stories. Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have become modern-day legends. But with so many big names to choose from, the qualification of owning a successful business becomes a prequisite, and planners must look to speaking ability.  After all, the necessary characteristics of entrepreneurship – constant hard work, sacrifice, and long hours – don’t necessarily go well with the ability to deliver an entertaining presentation.

When you have seen great speeches on entrepreneurship enough times though, you begin to notice that the speakers typically share certain features.  Here are the ones you should look for:

  • Storytelling chops.  Every great business has a great story.  If a speaker can’t keep his audience in the zone when he is talking about how he created his baby, he is unlikely to succeed in other areas of his speech.  He should appear completely “in the moment”: when a speaker is really into what he is saying, the audience is far more likely to be as well.

Evan Bailyn telling a story during an entrepreneurship speech

Me, lost in the moment while giving a speech about entrepreneurship.

  • Leadership.  That mix of charisma and trusting yourself so deeply that others want to follow suit is a trump card for an entrepreneurship speaker.  When the speaker is positive she’s on the right track, and not just from blind faith, but from experience, her speech has the opportunity to be mesmerizing.  This is one of those “x factors” that you either have or you don’t.
  • Humor.  The story of a business life can be a heavy subject; if a speaker can make it light and funny sometimes, everyone’s relieved.  Not to mention, the more tension in the room, the easier it is to make people laugh.
  • Comfort with failure.  I don’t think I’ve seen an inspiring speech by an entrepreneur that didn’t touch upon failure in some way.  It transports the speech from a level of pure adrenaline to a truly human level.  People like to know that the person on the stage, like them, has experienced failure – but that they succeeded anyway.
  • Humility.  One of the greatest criticisms of Silicon Valley is hubris.  As an entrpreneur, you need to be overly optimistic; however, you also need to be able to exit your Spin Zone when speaking to a crowd.  Like comfort with failure, humility is a trait that people respect, if only because it is tough to relate to someone who is acting like he is better than others.  It usually means the entrepreneur is trying to hide something, or doesn’t know himself well.  When I’m going into a speech, I try to remind myself that I belong up there because of my unique experience but I’m not a lick better than anyone else.  The result is that when I go up there, a feeling of connection with the audience seems to shine through.

These are my best descriptions of the qualities that make an entrepreneurship speaker shine.  If you have any questions or need advice on hiring a speaker, feel free to e-mail me.

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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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