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Find a keynote speaker: 5 steps to get the right keynote for your event

In this blog post I will show you what you need to consider in order to find the right keynote speaker for your next event. As a keynote speaker with a lot of experience, I know exactly which traps you can fall into and what you should pay attention to in order to make your event a complete success.

From its origin, the word “keynote” comes from music, more precisely from the collaboration between conductor and orchestra. In order to tune the orchestra to the right note, the conductor intones the so-called keynote before each song.

Transferred to speeches, this means nothing more than that the keynote speaker sensitizes and prepares your audience for the vision and core message of the event.

In music, a #keynote is played by the conductor to tune the orchestra. A #keynotespeaker tunes your audience into the vision and core message of your event! Share on X

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A keynote should be an enrichment!

A keynote can not only be an enrichment. It is! The prerequisite is, of course, that you hire a truly outstanding keynote speaker for your event and not just any field and meadow speaker. Because one thing should be clear to you: the keynote has a very special meaning within an event.

Every event usually has a goal. Often it is about motivating employees at a kick-off event or about getting in the mood for change, for example through an economic transformation such as digitalization. Or the keynote speaker should, for example, emotionally prepare his audience for a change in the company strategy. The topics range from motivation, marketing, innovation, politics to team building and leadership of a company. This is also regularly reflected in the requests for speakers and the choice of speaker.

To give you an idea of the power a keynote can transmit to the audience, take a look at the keynotes I have in my repertoire.

Portrait of Inspirational Innovative Speaker, Talking about Happiness, Self, Success, Empowerment, Efficiency and How to Be More Productive Self. Large Conference Hall with Cinematographic Light

The keynote should be delivered by an expert in his field, because he has the difficult task of getting the audience interested in the main idea of the event. At the same time, the speaker should excite the participants, give impulses and inspire them. With a successful keynote, the keynote speaker manages to ignite the fire in the audience. He encourages them to think “out of the box” and thus to be even more active in supporting new goals.

Keynote vs. speech

Often, business owners hosting an event like a kick-off or team event think that a speech has the same power as a keynote. A speaker is quickly found. In the worst case, one informs the head of department to “be allowed” to quickly give a speech that addresses the urgent need for a change in strategy in the company’s philosophy.

A keynote is much more than a speech. It is usually shorter and gets to the heart of the message. The keynote speaker prepares the content for the audience and summarizes what is worth knowing. A pure lecture or a speech goes thematically into depth. However, there is always the danger that the audience as a whole is not picked up and does not recognize the actual goal of the event. Keynote speakers are welcome guests at events, often celebrities from sports, politics, business and the media, who also add a touch of glamor to your event.

A #keynote is much more than a speech! It gets to the heart of the message. It is a self-contained staging that picks your audience up and takes them on a journey. Share on X

What is the advantage of a keynote compared to a speech?

The keynote is captivating. It is exciting, can be funny and is definitely entertaining. It is a production, like a play or a film, which the keynote speaker has already rehearsed in detail.

A professional keynote speaker builds a dramaturgy into his speeches, where the audience is led in an easy way to the core essence of the event. This is where the most important topics of the conference, kick-off event or a congress are summarized. Further advantages of professionals in their wide array of presentation skills are their stage presence, the targeted use of their voices as well as their impressive body language. Keynotes are rehearsed by the speaker and highly professional.

Since 2020 and also 2021, keynote speeches are often part of a virtual event or hybrid event, i.e. the attendees can experience them live or watch them as streaming. Here, successful keynote speakers also like to set up their own virtual presentation on their topic in order to focus on the audience experience during their talk online as well.

In 5 steps to the right keynote speaker for your event

Now that we’ve covered the basics of speakers and keynote speakers, let’s take a look at what’s important when choosing a keynote speaker to ensure you’re on the right track when booking a speaker.

1. What is the goal of your event?

In order to find the right keynote speaker, you should first think about the goal of your event.

Goals for your event could be, for example:

  • Build a stronger bond with a specific group of customers.
  • Strengthen the team spirit within your company or department
  • Initiate a change process within your company, which may accompany you for the next years
  • The launch of a new product
  • Motivating employees as a kick-off for a new stage or new goals
  • Saying thank you to customers and/or employees
  • Emotional image transfer of your brand
GOALS Text with Target Symbol

The main goal should run like a red thread through the entire event and thus naturally also determines the tenor of your keynote or the choice of your speaker. The type of event – whether an evening event, conference, virtual event, etc. – also depends on your goal. – is derived from your goal. If you need help with the implementation, it is advisable to take an event agency on board, which, in addition to the right keynote speaker, also takes care of many other things, such as location, technology and the ideal event host to lead through your event.

Regardless of your goal, of course, there should always be added value for your audience… which brings us to point 2.

2. Who is my audience?

Right after your goal, you should ask yourself who you want to be at this event in the first place… in other words, who is your audience. This is where knowing who will be a part of your event is of great benefit. What do your attendees expect from the event, what benefits do they want?

Audience in the lecture hall.

Ask yourself the following questions to get to know your audience and connect better.

  • What do your attendees expect from your event?
  • What is the emotional involvement with your topic?
  • What age group are you looking at? Is it mainly the young guns or rather the experienced oldies?
  • What is the gender distribution?
  • What are the positions of your guests – e.g. executive meeting, group of leaders, sales kick-off or a cross-section of the business world?
  • If it is not a corporate event, how homogeneous is the audience? Are partners invited, people who already know you? 
  • Are the guests there “of their own free will” or is it a professional obligation?
  • Last but not least, are your guests attending a live, virtual or hybrid event, possibly even from the home office?

The more you know your attendees, the more helpful your knowledge will be in choosing a professional keynote speaker.

The better you know your audience, the better your choice of #keynote speaker will be for your event. Share on X

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3. What do you want this keynote to achieve at your event?

Now that you already know the goal of your event as well as your attendees, there is one more thing we need to clarify before we search for a keynote speaker: the desired content of your keynote – what do you want it to be about?

The goal of your event goes hand in hand with the goal of your keynote. Make sure you don’t miss the mark just because you think a talk is particularly nice, but really try to find the right topic! Also, think about what values you want the keynote to convey to the audience.

You may be asking yourself: Do I need to find the right speaker or keynote first? A very common question… from my experience I can say that it seems to me more important to first think about the topic you want to cover before you narrow it down to find the best keynote for you. The success of your event stands and falls with the right topic. Even if you already have a keynote speaker in mind, you should keep this process to have a clear understanding of what he should be speaking about to avoid unnecessary “surprises”.

4. Choosing the right keynote speaker

After you have found the best keynote for you, now is the time to narrow it down to what candidate will be best to be talking about the topic. Choosing the right keynote speaker is not always easy and of course depends on personal preferences. You may have already experienced one or the other speaker yourself, be it on the topic of marketing, innovation or other business topics. Motivational speakers are also very popular for events.

Speaker giving a talk on corporate Business Conference. Audience at the conference hall. Business and Entrepreneurship event.

Perhaps you noticed a speaker at a conference who left a special impression live. Or you have personal contact with speakers with top expertise through your network. You may also be someone who likes to get recommendations and watch videos of different keynote speakers before sending requests to different speakers.

Budget for the right keynote speaker

You should also consider the budget for a keynote speaker in advance. Professionals are not cheap, but are worth their price. Basically, the same applies here – the more prominent the speaker, the higher the fee. You can count on this investment for a keynote speaker (keep in mind that expenses for travel, meals and possibly overnight stays have to be added):

  • To book a keynote speaker who deserves this name, you should calculate $ 3,000 – $ 5,000 as an absolute lower limit.
  • If the requests for the speaker are in the direction of leadership, then the price is often in the range of $ 5,000 – $ 7,000. This can also depend on the industry. For this, you can assume with these speakers that they are also worth their price.
  • For speakers who are also authors and possibly even have bestsellers in their portfolio, you can expect to pay $ 7,000 – $ 12,000 for a talk.
  • In the case of requests for celebrity speakers from business and public life, the fees can reach high 5-digit amounts. In the case of international celebrities, you can also book a speech from a keynote speaker for 6- to 7-figure sums.

Below are a few more selection criteria to help you in your search:

Experts vs “heard it somewhere”

Is the keynote speaker from the field with deep expertise? Does he have specialized knowledge on the topic or perhaps even professional experience in the field? Is he really an expert or does he only highlight the topic of his keynote superficially? Here, you definitely want to book a keynote speaker who knows what he’s talking about, instead of speakers who illuminate a topic from “hearsay”.

Interact live with the audience

Can he interact with the audience? Have you ever seen him in action and learned if he can engage his attendees? Interaction with guests is inevitable for a professional speaker. That’s why hands off speakers who have only quickly read a guide for public speaking tips and don’t engage in communication with the participants, talk to them and respond to questions and requests.

On-Stage Successful Female Speaker Presents Technological Product, Uses Remote Control for Presentation, Showing Infographics, Statistics Animation on Screen. Live Event / Device Release.

If your event is a virtual or hybrid event, it is also important that the speaker looks professional when talking to the camera and can interact with your guests. A virtual presentation has its special features… It is important that your keynote speaker is equipped with all video conferencing tips and tricks just as well as the right home studio equipment tools. As an online bonus tip: especially for virtual events it is worthwhile to bring a virtual emcee for online events on board.

Skills that a speaker must have

The requirements that a good keynote speaker should have are, of course, very much dependent on the topic of his presentation. It is obvious that he should have top-level communication skills. In addition, the speaker should of course have the necessary expertise for his keynote.


In order to find the ideal keynote speaker, the wheat is separated from the chaff. Therefore, it is also important to find some answers here so that no questions remain unanswered afterwards:

  • Can the speakers you have in mind provide appropriate references?

If the speaker you have in mind is, for example, a founder who lectures on business growth, this will certainly make more sense than a “keynote speaker” who has read a book on the subject.

  • Are you under contract with a speaker agency?

A speaker agency makes sense in many respects: Not only does it screen the appropriate speakers in advance, but it also handles a lot of administrative work and is happy to help with the selection of the right keynote speaker.

  • Do they have their own website and are they perhaps not only since yesterday on the market and can show successful presentations?
  • This point should be obvious from a quick search on the internet… if you don’t find much and as a contact maybe only a free mail address, then better to be cautious.
  • What kind of professional impression do they leave?

This of course applies both online and when you see the speaker you want at an event.

5. Where can you find the ideal speaker for your event?

Now that you should already have a good feel for what kind of speaker to find and what kind of keynote you want to book, let’s finish up by looking at where you can find the ideal keynote speaker for your live event.

Professional speaker agency

A direct contact point is, for example, a speaker agency that will help you find the right expert to make your event a complete success. The speaker agency will also assist you in fleshing out your topic and planning the schedule. They usually also contact the speaker and the billing of the speaker runs through the agency.

Own experience

Most likely you have already attended a few lectures and you may have noticed one or the other speaker. In the best case you have his contact details and can contact him by mail. Otherwise just contact the organizer or have a look at the program and you should be helped.

Recommendations and network

Recommendations from third parties are especially valuable. Other entrepreneurs from your network may have already engaged a speaker on the same topic for a conference and are still in contact with him. You can use them as a resource, call them and then talk to the speaker about the planned presentation and if you like each other: book him. Top experts usually have a full schedule and if you can still get a date for your event, grab it!

Google, Social Media and Co.

Of course, Google, Social Media and Co. will also help you. On Google you can search for different keynote topics and find a variety of suitable lectures from the fields of marketing, motivation, communication, digitalization and innovation. These are the top trends this year. Sometimes you can also find videos of individual speakers on the web, which you can use as a guide.

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Good keynote speakers are more than worth their money

Booking an excellent speaker is time-consuming and can be associated with high costs. Nevertheless, this investment will pay off. The top keynote speakers bring years of experience, are eloquent, have wit and charm and turn even the driest topic into an experience for your guests.

If you are interested in a keynote in the area of motivation, leadership or team building I invite you to have a look at my keynote speaker page. Alternatively you can send me an email or give my team a call and let us see how we can create success for you and the members of your organization together.

What is important to you when choosing speakers and what experience have you made so far? Feel free to write me a comment about it.


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