Keynotes. Events commonly have them, but what are they? Are keynotes just another presentation for attendees to sit through? Does every event need one, and what information should be covered? There are no set requirements for a keynote presentation, but there are some general guidelines to consider when deciding to implement one into a virtual, in-person, or hybrid event.
What is a Keynote?
A Keynote presentation is usually at the beginning of an event and sets the event’s tone and introduces the theme. This differs from other presentations at events because instead of exploring a hyper-specific topic, keynotes tend to be more general and exciting so most attendees will be interested in listening. Furthermore, since keynotes lay an event’s foundation, they prep attendees for what to expect at the event and get their ‘wheels turning’. Additionally, keynote speakers tend to have experience presenting at large-scale events and are able to engage a crowd.
Choosing A Speaker
Keynotes are generally presented by a leader in a particular industry, an expert in the field, a celebrity or public figure, or one of the individuals responsible for hosting the event. This is because keynotes are a great way to drum up attention for an event. Event marketers can advertise the keynote speaker as a way to increase attendance at the show. Lastly, it helps to establish credibility and create excitement for the event by having an impressive name or expert deliver a speech at the entire event.
Selecting a Topic
When deciding on a topic, there are a few factors to keep in mind. The first is to keep it engaging for all attendees. Therefore, the subject should not be too niche that not everyone will be interested in the topic. If people aren’t interested in the topic, attendees will not show up to listen to the presentation.
In addition, keynote presentations should be informative but comprehensible to the audience members. If the topic is too complex for the average attendee to understand, it will not be beneficial for most people listening to the presentation.
Keep the presentation relevant. Remember, the keynote helps set the tone for an event, so the keynote’s topic should align with the conference’s central theme. For example, at Nursery Guide Live 2021, there was a keynote exploring digital marketing with a focus on SEO. This was extremely topical for the event since the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to shift the majority of their operations, including marketing, to a digital-centric approach.
Lastly, the topic should be original. It is not exciting for attendees to sit through a presentation that covers an issue they are already well-informed on or is too bland or general that the audience does not leave with takeaways.
Scheduling a Keynote
Since keynotes set the tone for an event, they are commonly held at the beginning of an event. However, some multi-day events like Nursery Guide Live, kick off each day with a different keynote presentation. This can be a valuable tool if the event focuses on new subtopics daily. For example, if the event centers around emerging technology, day one might focus on artificial intelligence, while the next day focuses on NFTs. Therefore, each day might benefit from a different keynote speaker to set the tone for each day of the event.
Creating the Deck
Keynotes are not always accompanied by a slideshow presentation; however, they are frequently prevalent. This is for a multitude of reasons. The first is that not everyone is an auditory learner. Some people are visual learners, and others learn best through reading, which slideshows communicate information in these varying forms.
Moreover, it helps to take the pressure off the speaker. Having a room full of eyes on the speaker can be nerve-wracking at times. However, including a visual deck takes some of the focus off of the speaker.
Slideshows also make the presentation engaging. Instead of attendees just looking at the speaker for an hour, the slideshow gives them something else to look at and read. Furthermore, the deck changes slides every few minutes or so, giving attendees something new to look at to help hold their attention.
Videos can be thrown into the slideshow to also give the speaker a break from speaking. Talking can be tiring. This allows the speaker to take a short break from giving their speech and also gives them to collect their thoughts before they continue.
When deciding on including a keynote, think about the value it will add to the event attendees. Make sure not to include a keynote for the sake of having a keynote. And remember, provide attendees with a keynote that is informative and engaging that sets the tone for the entire event.