Keynote Success: 10 Tips to Maximize Pre-event Planning
Congratulations! You’ve hired the right keynote speaker to deliver a message that resonates with your meeting objectives, while meeting the needs of your audience and stakeholders. As the event approaches, here are ten tips to maximize your success on presentation day:
1. Position the speaker on the agenda where he/she will provide the most impact.
Examples: A corporation announcing a new global change initiative may want to position a keynote on embracing change at the opening general session to increase the audience’s receptiveness to the organization’s mission. Whereas, an association that has struggled with attendees departing early, may want to position one of their professional speakers as the closing keynote to increase chances of attendees staying for the full duration of the conference.
2. Schedule a pre-event conference call between the speaker and the internal client or senior leader.
This allows the speaker to understand the needs of the organization, challenges the audience may face and ask clarifying questions. The speaker is able to gather information needed to customize his message to your specific group.
3. Consider room sets that maximize audience engagement. The closer the audience is to the speaker, the more the connection and attention.
Dance floors, or wide open center aisles directly in front of the speaker, can separate a speaker from the audience, while theater-style seating or round tables as close to the stage as possible will maximize engagement.
4. Obtain advance written permission to record from the speaker.
If you are recording the session, always obtain the speaker’s written permission well in advance. Keynotes typically contain the intellectual property of the speaker and may have recording limitations or fees that apply.
5. Review your Event Profile prior to the event to be sure the speaker logistics are completed and accurate.
Goodman Speakers Bureau provides this document to clients as a tool to keep both the meeting planner and the speaker on track for success. By summarizing the audience profile, meeting objectives, travel arrangements, emergency contact info and other vital details, everyone has an easy reference sheet to use on-site.
6. Allow the speaker to arrive at the destination in advance.
By arriving the night before, a speaker can familiarize themselves with the facility/attendees, give the planner some peace of mind, and get a good night’s rest. This is of key importance for International travel, wintry destinations or whenever weather may present an added challenge. In times of threatening storms, (sometimes in the speaker’s point of departure), a speaker may need to arrive two days prior.
7. Conduct a sound check or audio-visual rehearsal.
Be sure to schedule an AV check in advance. Professional speakers will want to familiarize themselves with the room ahead of time. This is an opportunity to test PowerPoint presentations, (if not already provided in advance), meet the production team, do a sound check and reassure everyone that you are good to go! Don’t forget to have fresh batteries in your wireless microphone at the beginning of the conference and always have a back up set.
8. Provide good lighting that clearly illuminates the speaker and podium.
This helps direct the audience’s attention on the speaker and keep it there. Ideally, the audience should be dimmed, but not dark. The speaker will want to read the audience’s reactions and adapt the speech accordingly, as needed.
9. Schedule mealtime speeches to start after the conclusion of food service.
To avoid noise and distractions, keynotes held after a breakfast, lunch or dinner should begin after the wait staff has finished clearing the meals. It is very difficult for speakers to retain everyone’s attention when they have to compete with the din of service and lingering conversations. If time limitations are a challenge, pre-set the dessert and have coffee offered right after entrees have been served. Final clearing should be done after the keynote.
10. Observe, Enjoy and Evaluate.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor by watching the speaker’s presentation. Observe the audience’s reaction and monitor engagement. Did you get the results you anticipated? Evaluations sent after the program are ideal opportunities for capturing the thoughts of attendees and helping you launch next year’s selection process with solid criteria for planning the next search for the right keynote speaker!