Choosing a Keynote Speaker

A keynote speaker in public speaking is an address that sets forth an overall theme. Since the price of keynote speakers and the time investment associated with preparing a keynote address can be prohibitive for some, many speakers will prepare an opening and end of the event as well as a post-show program. In most professional or corporate settings, greater significance is attached to the delivery of the keynote speech itself rather than its content. This practice is common among keynote speakers who have delivered before audiences of hundreds or thousands.

The opening keynote speaker usually opens the event by introducing his or her topic of discussion. The opening speaker is typically the longest sitting plenary speaker in the entire event. Once the opening speaker has introduced himself/herself, attendees are permitted to question and to challenge the opening speaker. Many keynote speakers have been criticized for speaking more than they needed to, especially in cases where the topics they spoke were too broad. It is recommended that a longer opening be provided by the organizers to ensure that the number of questions posed by the audience is not so great that it becomes uncomfortable for the speaker.

After the opening keynote speaker, the remainder of the opening plenary speaker's time is available to be used on either side of the podium, as decided by the organizing committee. During the introductory portion of the conference speakers may take questions from the audience, or they may welcome their guests with a brief presentation. During this part of the program, speakers rarely get to talk directly to the audience. If the opening keynote speakers wish to speak more extensively about the topic of the day, they  are free to do so after a question or answer period. The brief presentations made by keynote speakers are often referred to as "sideline conversations".

The question-and-answer segment of the keynote speaker's time is often the most active and contentious. Often, the planners will request that a guest speaker to speak a little more broadly about their topic to encourage participation by the audience. In a sense, the guest speaker is giving the audience more information about the topic; however, sometimes this does not go over to well with some participants in the audience, who are expecting the guest speaker to spend significant time speaking to them about their own area of expertise. The planners of the event will therefore plan and hire motivational speakers  for the extra sessions of the event.

After keynote speakers have been scheduled for the duration of the conference, it is up to the organizing committee to keep everyone informed of the progress of each speaker through periodic status reports. These status reports allow attendees to learn about what has been discussed in sessions and to see what has been completed. Speakers who have been scheduled for multiple conferences can give their attendees a sneak peek at what they have accomplished during previous talks. This allows the organizers to prepare conference programs based on topics that have been agreed upon by all speakers, without having to re-scheduled numerous times. Organizers can also learn about the types of questions that attendees have, which can prove helpful when making changes to the program.

When dealing with guest speakers, it is important to remember that although they provide great value to your event - their speaking performance may not be to everyone's taste. Sometimes, a guest speaker will deliver a speech that is far too technical for your audience. Other times, they might deliver a speech that your attendees find boring or tedious. It is the job of the conference organizing team to find a balance of entertainment value and informative value so that the event is successful. Please view this site for further details on public speaking. 

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