7 Tips To Becoming A Keynote Speaker People Can’t Wait To Hear
For a lot of people, there’s nothing more terrifying than public speaking. Even though people often say I look like I feel very comfortable on stage, I still get very nervous before I speak to a large group.
That’s because there are so many things to think about when you get in front of a group of people. All eyes are on you, and you’re wondering whether you prepared enough, whether your audience can hear you, whether something will go wrong, and roughly a million other things.
Becoming a speaker that people can’t wait to hear takes a lot of practice. To help, here are seven things I’ve learned over the years by speaking in front of audiences and learning from others who take the stage:
1. Don’t pigeonhole yourself.
When I started speaking, I focused on content marketing because it was the area of marketing I knew best. Over time, I received feedback that my material could be valuable to sales audiences. My speaking expanded to meet that need, and I ended up getting booked as a keynote sales speaker at more events. Don’t limit yourself if you have knowledge to share that could help more people.
2. Put together a content strategy around your speaking topics.
You can make an impact on people the first time they see you speak, but when you consistently create content and become top of mind with them, that impact grows. Over time, when someone is in need of something you can offer — whether that’s a vendor recommendation or a speaker for another event — you’re the first person he or she will think of. But you can only get there if you develop a content strategy around your speech topics to consistently surround yourself with content.
3. Understand that it takes time.
Confidence is important for anyone taking the stage at an event. Unfortunately, simply believing in yourself and thinking you’re a great speaker doesn’t mean that everyone else will think the same.
When I started speaking years ago, I thought I was pretty good. In reality, I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was. Thanks to lots of constructive feedback, I’ve been able to really work at it, and I continue to work at it each time. Content can be tweaked, delivery can be improved — there’s always room to get better at public speaking. Feedback is a blessing, so encourage it and let it make you a better speaker.
4. Personalize your talk.
I learned early in my career that I wasn’t crazy about speakers who put themselves on a pedestal, so I decided to step off the stage and walk around when possible to interact more closely with my audience. I also learned that sharing personal stories about my wife, kids, and friends really allowed me connect with people. That level of vulnerability can be hard, but it can also change the tone of your speech and help you stand out.
5. Connect with audiences before and after your speech.
Showing up before your talk starts can provide you valuable opportunities to strengthen your speech, and staying after can make you a true resource. There’s only so much help you can offer in a 45-minute speech, so show up early and stay late when you can.
This way, you can get to know participants and tailor your talk to them, and audiences tend to respond well when they know you’ve made an effort to connect personally with their specific group. Plus, sticking around and engaging with your audience after an event gives you a chance to connect one-on-one with people and show that you care about actually helping them.
6. Rely on content triggering to evolve your speech.
“Content triggering” is a term I use a lot in reference to content marketing. Simply put, you listen to your audience, and when they share questions, objections, pain points, etc. that trigger an idea for content, you document it so you can create content around that topic in the future. The same applies to your speaking.
Listen to the people in your audience, and figure out what’s engaging to them. What stories did they laugh at? What sales barriers did they have? What point was still unclear to them? That feedback should act as a trigger for new material in future speeches.
7. Set pride aside.
Keynote speakers may be event headliners, but they’re still there to be helpful and engage attendees in a thoughtful way. Speakers who care more about their ego than the value they offer are going to have a hard time getting booked in the future. More and more speakers are on the rise, so don’t be the rock star demanding only green Skittles in your dressing room. Be grateful for the opportunity to help others.
Public speaking is tough, and no one wants to be that one keynote speaker no one wants to see. Follow these tips to keep improving and please the crowd at your next speaking engagement.