The term “keynote” seems too intimidating for first-timers since it is more often used in formal occasions than in ordinary speaking engagements. A keynote speech is the main speech that will deliver the focal point of the event. Simply put, it is the most important speech in the entire set, making the keynote speaker the most anticipated person in any event.
The pressure is on because all eyes are on you. Your reputation now lies on your words and delivery. It is needless to say that you have to come fully prepared for the exacting ears of your audience.
Here are six tips in preparing for your keynote speech:
1. Know the point of the event
What is the theme and goal of the event? What do the organizers want to achieve in holding it? Your speech has to be in synch with everything else, even with the core messages of the other speakers. You are there to support the cause and not to merely showcase your public speaking skills.
2. Start by ending it
What do you want your audience to think and do after your speech? How do you want them to act and react to your message? An effective keynote speaker looks at the finish line before starting because the most important thing is what happens after you speak and not while your audience is listening.
3. List your main points
What are the points that you want to share as you build up your speech? Your points are basically the lessons you want to impart. They can be the crucial questions that need to be answered, the tips or steps you want to share, or the main facts you want to emphasize. They comprise the framework that creates the structure for your speech, so the flow should depend on them.
4. Add some entertainment
How do you plan to make the whole speech interesting and lively? A keynote speaker who does not know how to entertain is boring. That does not mean you have to break-dance or rap like Jay-Z, but you have to consider the short attention span of your audience. They cannot simply stand an hour of interminable speech. Thus, you need breaks.
You can add jokes, anecdotes, stories, or games. Sometimes, all the audience need is a good laugh to make them listen to you intently again.
5. Highlight the most important part
Which part of your speech is the heaviest and most meaningful? This is the part where you plan of showing seriousness once again – the part where you practically want to say “here it goes…listen up.” It is recommended that a keynote speaker literally highlights this part in his speech, but why?
It will serve as your clue to change your tone, pace, facial expression, gesture, and prepare for the presentation. Sometimes, when you have a very long speech with so many breaks, you tend to lose track of your own delivery. If you can pinpoint highlights with one glance, you cannot be lost even if you have a 10-page speech and a 20-slide presentation to deliver.
6. Plan your gesture and blocking
A great speech delivered with awkward body movements is awkward all the same. Non-verbal communication shows more authority and demands more attention than words. That is why many people look authoritative and credible just by the way they walk and stand.
By planning your gestures and blocking on stage, you avoid awkward moments when the audience can see your insecurities. If you want to walk on stage, walk with direction and right pause instead of walking like you are lost in a dark alley. If you want to use hand gestures, practice it beforehand to master the timing.