As you plan your next seminar, workshop, conference, or professional event, one of the most consequential decisions you’ll make is who you enlist as your keynote speaker.

Your keynote speaker is ultimately the person who’s tasked with sending your participants home with something meaningful and actionable—in short, something that makes their time at the event truly valuable.

As such, it’s no exaggeration to say that, when attendees look back on your event, the keynote address is one of the first things they’re going to remember—one of the hallmarks they use to determine whether your event was ultimately worthwhile.

So, the keynote speaker is important, but with so many options out there, making an informed decision can seem daunting. In this post, I’m simply going to offer a roadmap—a process you can follow to help make this key decision a little more manageable.

How to Choose a Keynote Speaker

  • Think in Terms of Story

The first thing I’d suggest to you is very simple: As human beings, we like to be told a good story. We like a sense of narrative. That’s ultimately what we connect with.

A good keynote speaker will be able to tell your participants a story; in many ways, they’ll be creating, in real time, the story of your event.

By contrast, a speaker who doesn’t know how to tell a story or involve their audience in a narrative simply won’t cut it.

So you might start by thinking: What story are we trying to tell with this event? And what kind of speaker can help us do that?

  • Consider Goals

Something else to think about: Goals.

What are your goals for the event? What do you imagine will be your audience’s goals for the event?  And where’s the overlap? That is, what kind of keynote address will help you accomplish your big-picture goals while also ensuring the audience feels satisfied?

I highly recommend making a list of goals before you start thinking about particular speakers; that way, you can avoid having any kind of misalignment between what the speaker wants to do and what you want them to do.

  • Review Your Budget

 You’re going to need to think about highly practical matters, and budget is first on the list.

Here, there are a couple of common pitfalls. One is that you actually underspend and end up getting a speaker who is just not the kind of caliber you need.

The other danger is overspending and not having enough money left over for other important elements of your conference or event.

Like goals, budget is something you’ll want to clarify before you start interviewing specific keynote speakers.

  • Weigh Audience Preferences

Something else to think about: A speaker may light a fire under one audience, but leave the next audience feeling completely cold.

That’s not necessarily the speaker’s fault. It may be a matter of mismatching the speaker and the audience.

I highly recommend creating a persona of your typical audience member—what kind of speaker will they like? Will they want someone formal and academic? Someone comedic? Someone persuasive and charismatic? A well-known figure, or someone more down-to-earth?

Think critically about audience preferences and ensure a speaker who can fulfill them.

Do Your Due Diligence


The bottom line: You’ve got a lot to think about as you consider your keynote speaker… but if you do the homework and ponder these different categories, you can find just the right person to make your event a success.


the Solutions Oriented LeaderI’d love to tell you more about my own expertise as a keynote speaker. Learn more by reaching out to me today! Contact me at or call 888-267-6098.


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