What is a keynote speaker?

In my blog post this time I would like to give you a closer look into the world of a keynote speaker. 

You will learn:

  • What is a keynote speaker?
  • What makes a keynote so special?
  • What makes a good keynote speaker?

I will introduce you to the advantages of a keynote so that you can decide whether you want to bring a keynote speaker on stage for your next event or conference, for example for team building measures or motivational purposes.


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What is a keynote speech?

By definition, the term keynote speech stands for the speech that a keynote speaker delivers. Most good keynote speakers have several speeches in their repertoire, focus on specific content and topics, and hone their speech for a long time until it is unique and phenomenal.


What does keynote speaker mean?

If you ask Wikipedia, you will read that a keynote speaker delivers speeches in a special way. But what does “in a special way” mean? 

The art of the keynote speaker is to inspire his audience, to build up an arc of suspense and to motivate the audience to take a closer look at a topic.

He tells stories, builds emotional bridges to his audience and creates unique Magic Moments. Ideally, a good keynote speaker already brings experience with a larger audience. A great stage presence is a prerequisite for keynote speakers anyway.

Companies often hire keynote speakers for kick-off events or their annual kick-off meetings. Keynote speakers are also often hired for product launches or as part of team building events.

Weiblicher Keynote Speaker

What distinguishes a keynote speaker from a lecturer?

We have already defined what a keynote speaker is. Now let’s go a little deeper and look for what makes keynote speakers different from lecture speakers.

The main difference between a keynote and a “normal” speech is the duration and the intention. A speech is usually one-time in nature. The speaker may rant for an hour or more about a specific area of concern. Speeches are often created for specific occasions. The speaker gives his best and courts the favor of the audience at events such as: 

  • Weddings
  • funeral ceremonies
  • anniversaries 
  • introduction of new employees
  • acceptance speeches

The duration during which a keynote speaker inspires his audience, on the other hand, tends to be of a shorter nature. The speech should motivate, give an impulse, often generates emotions in the audience and provides a compact overview of the knowledge about an existing topic.

With a keynote, something is to be conveyed to the audience, the speech is not held just for the sake of the speech. The immediate goal of the keynote speaker, and this is also the focus, is to take the audience on an emotional journey during the event and to convey added value in a relaxed manner. 

Good keynote speeches are rehearsed, deal with a specific content and are known to ignite the enthusiasm of the audience.

What makes a good keynote speech?

I can answer that with two words: authenticity and storytelling. Exceptional keynotes have a unique touch and play a specific role. The expert knowledge that is to be enthusiastically conveyed to the audience is freshly packaged in a story. The keynote is closely tied to the person of the keynote speaker. His personality, his charisma make the speech unmistakable. Professional keynote speakers live their topic on stage. That is why they embody their message 100% as speakers. 

Infotainment is the life blood of a good keynote speech

It is a pleasure to serve a mix of knowledge and often even more entertainment for each guest during a large part of the lecture. The performance of the talk is precisely rehearsed. Usually the keynote speaker distinguishes himself from other speakers by a special life story or extraordinary experience that he brings into his speech. A good keynote speech is lively and professionally prepared. Nothing is left to chance. The attendees should be left with an impression and this even beyond the event.

A coherent concept as a successful basis

The perfect concept of a good keynote must be coherent. The topic comes in the form of a captivating story. Through a sophisticated and strategically prepared arc of suspense, the listeners of the speech find their way to the climax. A good keynote speaker trains his speeches regularly. He often brings a long stage experience, has undergone voice training and has learned from the best of the best. He has learned from the bottom up how to inspire participants.

Storytelling. Story Telling Business concept.

A good keynote speaker shines through storytelling.

According to a study, 65% of our daily communication consists of telling stories. To inspire the audience, more stories are needed… The keynote speaker is a personality and is skilled in storytelling. He sets up the punch line at the right time and then comes to the final conclusion in a bravura arc. The content and strategy fit together. The audience is taken on a unique journey and will thus remember the message for a long time.


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Tasks of a keynote speaker

But what are the tasks of a good, professional keynote speaker at an event and why is it so important to really have an experienced keynote speaker on stage? The keynote speaker has various tasks, or functions, on stage.

Icebreaker function

As an icebreaker, he gets his audience and spectators in the right mood for the topic. The audience should become curious and be prepared for the upcoming information. Often, the event keynote speaker gives the opening speech, for example, when preparing a company for a change in strategy.

Translator function

For complex topics that usually involve a lot of technical jargon, the speaker is there to build bridges of understanding between the audience or customers and the client. The keynote speaker therefore often takes on the task of adding spice and liveliness to a dry topic and helps the audience to open up to complex topics that require explanation. He or she stages the topic and thus helps the audience to form a picture of that particular subject. In the course of the lecture, the individual can thereby refer back to this vivid experience again and again and consume an actually difficult topic more easily.

Entertainment function

A professional keynote speaker is also a good entertainer and relies on entertaining infotainment during his presentation. In order to bring a specific topic closer to the listener and viewer, he builds up an arc of suspense and supplements his presentation with entertaining elements such as anecdotes, punchlines or examples.

In this way, the audience feels picked up and perceives the keynote speech as versatile and motivating.

It is also important here to choose the right event keynote speaker at any event or conference who, in the best case, has a professional connection to the topic or industry, can establish a connection to information and can inspire his audience. In short: entertainment is not a nice-to-have but a must-have.


Motivational function

A keynote speaker is oftentimes speaking as a motivational trainer who provides his content with a powerful motivational boost. After all, the audience is not only supposed to consume the speech, in the best case scenario, they are also supposed to take action afterwards.

Sometimes the keynote speech ends with a concrete call to action. During the speech, the content is expanded with motivational messages, so that the participants are not only anchored on a technical level, but the emotional level is also included.

Simply put, the goal is to leave audiences excited and prepared for success. If you want to read more about the motivational aspect of being a keynote speaker, you might be interested in my article about becoming a motivational speaker.

Variety of topics of keynote speeches

Keynote speakers have a broad repertoire of highly interesting presentations on a wide variety of topics that resonate with a broad audience. Therefore, they often focus on innovation, motivation and future topics.


Companies need research and innovative strategies to grow healthily and to position themselves successfully in the market. Keynotes thereby show how companies can overcome future challenges and acquire an advantage over competing companies. The main question in these keynote speeches is usually how companies can adapt to the ever-changing economic processes.


Many keynotes revolve around the ever-present topic of motivation. Especially at corporate events that serve team building purposes, keynotes are used to win over participants for economic changes or to motivate them for new product strategies. Optimistic speakers succeed in conveying a positive outlook and eliminating reservations about change. The exciting range of topics for keynotes that serve to motivate includes, for example, ideas on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Keynote Speaker

Future topics

We are facing major challenges and changes these days. Digitalization is a big topic for business and for companies, and many speakers focus on it. Keynotes that address future topics deal with visionary questions. These are, for example:

What does the work of the future look like?

How can industries be prepared for working in a home office?

How can generational change be implemented?

My keynote topics

If you follow my blog posts or maybe have already visited my keynote speaker page, you know that I am not only a presenter for live events, hybrid events and online events, but also a successful keynote speaker on national and international stages. In addition to the presentations listed here, I naturally cover a whole range of other topics. Take a closer look at my keynotes to get a first impression. The best fit of the following keynotes is usually given with leaders, executives and sales professionals. 

To give you an idea here is a sample of what I speak about:

  • “The power principle – achieving your goal through successful action”
  • “The stadium principle – winning together”
  • “At the push of a button: peak performance when it counts”
  • “How innovative companies benefit from digitalization in sports”

Maybe you’re planning an event or virtual event this year and are unsure which talk might be appropriate, or you can’t find your desired topic…. Contact me briefly via e-mail. My team will contact you shortly and we will clarify in a personal conversation if I can help you come up with inspiring topics that fit the attendees of your next events or conferences. We can then answer all your questions and show you an example of a professional speech, the many possibilities that are important for your company or your customers. 

How much do keynote speakers earn?

The fee that a professional keynote speaker can charge is highly variable and depends on several factors. It depends on the general size of the event, the length of the talk, and how well known the speaker is and can also vary a bit by the industry they are an expert in. Prominent and in-demand keynote speakers are naturally more costly than speakers who are just beginning their careers as keynote speakers. The following fees can serve as a reference to what a speaker may charge:

  • Cheap keynotes: Hands off! up to $ 3,000
  • Keynotes with level $ 3.000 to $ 5.000
  • Keynotes from book authors $ 5,000 to $ 7,500
  • Keynotes from bestselling author $ 7.500 to $ 20.000
  • Keynotes by well-known personalities $ 20,000 to $ 1,000,000

In addition, there are usually the travel expenses or other additional costs such as hotel and meals for the respective speaker. Speakers of the extra class, which have a public name, earn easily $ 10,000 per lecture. If prominent ones stand on the stage and must reach enterprises for lectures deeply into the bag. Here no borders are set upward… Cost for example a speech of Tony Robbins $ 400,000 is that a true bargain, if one it with the amount, which one puts down for a Bill Clinton or Donald Trump… you are in with a million each on those two. Plus expenses, of course.

Business audience applauding to speaker at conference

Booking the right keynote speaker for your event?

Now you have surely gained an impression why a keynote speaker can be a highlight at your corporate event. Maybe you are now wondering how to get a top speaker?

Most professional keynote speakers are listed with their topics at corresponding agencies and can be booked there. In addition, every keynote speaker has a website. Here you can find all relevant information.

In today’s times of crisis, many keynote speakers expand their repertoire with virtually held lectures. Of course, a face-to-face event with a real stage is always something special. However, technology and advancing digitization in the event industry also make virtual lectures or hybrid events possible, which are almost on a par with a live event.

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A keynote speaker is much more than just a speaker. A professional keynote speaker has the ability to understand you and your attendees and gives any talk the momentum it needs to get change underway and prepare someone for success. He literally gives wings to audiences and visions, motivates and performs to be able to achieve the best result for a company.

Have you ever heard a keynote speaker live? What excited you the most and what is the fascination of a good keynote for you? Feel free to share your opinion in a comment.

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