Keynote Speaker Ideas

If you are planning a conference, one of the most exciting, and yet daunting tasks can be coming up with good keynote speaker ideas for your event.

It’s exciting because the keynote speaker will literally set the “key note” for the event. A great keynote speaker can add excitement to the event. They can be a draw. They can really set the tone for a successful conference.

It’s daunting because there are so many options for keynote speakers. It can be very hard to even know where to begin. This article will help give you some keynote speaker ideas so you will have an easier time selecting a speaker who’s a perfect fit for your next conference.

Keynote Speaker Idea: Motivational Improviser, Avish Parashar

If you’d like something high-energy, interactive, funny, content-packed, and unlike anything your audience has seen before, then you need to check out funny motivational speaker Avish Parashar!

Using interactive improv comedy, Avish creates an experience your audience will never forget. To see Avish in action, check out his motivational speaker videos page (and be sure to watch his Demo Video and TEDx talk)!

Or cut to the chase and contact Avish now to get more info and secure the date for him to speak at your event!

What is a Keynote Speaker?

First, we have to ask, “What is a keynote speaker?” There are a few different definitions. Technically, there’s only one keynote speaker for a conference. That is the opening speaker who sets the “key note.” These days, keynote speaker has become synonymous with general session speaker. At your conference you’ll have breakout sessions where people can choose from different rooms, and also general sessions where everyone comes together. Most times, people use the term “keynote speaker” to refer to any one of those general session speakers, which means you can have more than one.

If you are looking for an opening or general session speaker, here are some keynote speaker ideas you can go with.

  1. Celebrity Speaker
    This is someone who is known outside of your industry or maybe even within the industry, and so well known that they will be a draw. This can be someone on TV, an athlete, a New York Times best-selling author, etc. This doesn’t mean the person’s going to be a great speaker, but the notoriety they have as a celebrity means they will probably draw more attendees.
  1. Motivational
    Motivational speakers sometimes get a bad wrap because they’ve gotten a little cliché. However, a good motivational speaker can really kick things off for your event, or raise the energy level during the event. People always need a little motivation, and a good motivational speaker will really be met well from your audience.
  1. Humorist
    Humorists are similar to motivational speakers, but their primary objective is to make the audience laugh. Humorists are amazing speakers to use for your keynotes because people like to feel good. If you have a long event, you can have a humorist in the middle to re-energize people, and to break up some of the drier, heavy content material. They are also perfect for lunch time or dinner time speakers.
  1. Industry Expert
    An industry expert is someone who is obviously an expert in what they do within your industry. This is where you’ll find CEOs or academics who have been in the industry a long time. Industry expert speakers can be good for general sessions, but you have to be careful because industry experts don’t often spend a lot of time on their “speaking” craft ¾ meaning they may have great content, but they might not be very dynamic. In a general session, in a keynote slot, your audience really wants good energy and engagement from your speaker. If you have multiple general session speakers, an industry expert is a good speaker to use somewhere in the middle, usually in the morning because at lunch time and in the afternoon, your audience has gotten tired, and the dry content of an industry speaker can put them to sleep.
  1. Someone with Something Different
    People who go to many conferences are used to seeing the same old, same old. An industry expert, a motivational person, a celebrity. Periodically, try someone who does things a little differently as a keynote speaker idea. Bring in someone who combines juggling, audience interaction, music, or dare I say, improv comedy. When done well, this completely surprises the audience, changes their expectation and serves as something memorable because it’s nothing like they’ve ever seen before. You can also go completely different, and bring in a group of people or some large audience activity, which some speakers excel at doing.

These are a few keynote speaker ideas. There are others, but if you think about what you most want from amongst those options, they will give you a good place to start.

Keynote Speaker Fees

We need to talk for a moment about keynote speaker fees because this is equally daunting. You may come up with some brilliant keynote speaker ideas, but how much will those speakers cost?

There is no easy answer to what you can expect to pay for a keynote speaker. Fees can range all the way from zero, (yes some speakers will speak for free because they want to promote something or sell something or it’s just an industry they want to give back to), all the way up to $50,000 or more for really sought after celebrities. You’ll have to take a look at your budget to figure out what you can afford to pay your keynote speaker.

In general, $5,000 to $10,000 is a great fee range for a non-celebrity speaker. In that fee range you will find speakers who aren’t well known outside of their industry or even within the industry, but they’re tremendously talented. They have crafted their message, and they know how to engage an audience. If you’re not looking for a celebrity, $5,000 to $10,000 is definitely a good range which will give you a great speaker. One caveat, in all fee ranges, from zero to $100,000 and more, you will find some amazing speakers and you will find some horrible speakers. Fee might relate to value, but not always. Be sure to vet your speakers, watch their videos, get recommendations and referrals, because you never know.

Use these keynote speaker ideas to begin booking your speaker for your next conference. Hopefully, these tips will help make it more exciting and less daunting.

What is a Keynote Speaker?

First, we have to ask, “What is a keynote speaker?” There are a few different definitions. Technically, there’s only one keynote speaker for a conference. That is the opening speaker who sets the “key note.” These days, keynote speaker has become synonymous with general session speaker. At your conference you’ll have breakout sessions where people can choose from different rooms, and also general sessions where everyone comes together. Most times, people use the term “keynote speaker” to refer to any one of those general session speakers, which means you can have more than one.

If you are looking for an opening or general session speaker, here are some keynote speaker ideas you can go with.

  1. Celebrity Speaker
    This is someone who is known outside of your industry or maybe even within the industry, and so well known that they will be a draw. This can be someone on TV, an athlete, a New York Times best-selling author, etc. This doesn’t mean the person’s going to be a great speaker, but the notoriety they have as a celebrity means they will probably draw more attendees.
  1. Motivational
    Motivational speakers sometimes get a bad wrap because they’ve gotten a little cliché. However, a good motivational speaker can really kick things off for your event, or raise the energy level during the event. People always need a little motivation, and a good motivational speaker will really be met well from your audience.
  1. Humorist
    Humorists are similar to motivational speakers, but their primary objective is to make the audience laugh. Humorists are amazing speakers to use for your keynotes because people like to feel good. If you have a long event, you can have a humorist in the middle to re-energize people, and to break up some of the drier, heavy content material. They are also perfect for lunch time or dinner time speakers.
  1. Industry Expert
    An industry expert is someone who is obviously an expert in what they do within your industry. This is where you’ll find CEOs or academics who have been in the industry a long time. Industry expert speakers can be good for general sessions, but you have to be careful because industry experts don’t often spend a lot of time on their “speaking” craft ¾ meaning they may have great content, but they might not be very dynamic. In a general session, in a keynote slot, your audience really wants good energy and engagement from your speaker. If you have multiple general session speakers, an industry expert is a good speaker to use somewhere in the middle, usually in the morning because at lunch time and in the afternoon, your audience has gotten tired, and the dry content of an industry speaker can put them to sleep.
  1. Someone with Something Different
    People who go to many conferences are used to seeing the same old, same old. An industry expert, a motivational person, a celebrity. Periodically, try someone who does things a little differently as a keynote speaker idea. Bring in someone who combines juggling, audience interaction, music, or dare I say, improv comedy. When done well, this completely surprises the audience, changes their expectation and serves as something memorable because it’s nothing like they’ve ever seen before. You can also go completely different, and bring in a group of people or some large audience activity, which some speakers excel at doing.

These are a few keynote speaker ideas. There are others, but if you think about what you most want from amongst those options, they will give you a good place to start.

Keynote Speaker Fees

We need to talk for a moment about keynote speaker fees because this is equally daunting. You may come up with some brilliant keynote speaker ideas, but how much will those speakers cost?

There is no easy answer to what you can expect to pay for a keynote speaker. Fees can range all the way from zero, (yes some speakers will speak for free because they want to promote something or sell something or it’s just an industry they want to give back to), all the way up to $50,000 or more for really sought after celebrities. You’ll have to take a look at your budget to figure out what you can afford to pay your keynote speaker.

In general, $5,000 to $10,000 is a great fee range for a non-celebrity speaker. In that fee range you will find speakers who aren’t well known outside of their industry or even within the industry, but they’re tremendously talented. They have crafted their message, and they know how to engage an audience. If you’re not looking for a celebrity, $5,000 to $10,000 is definitely a good range which will give you a great speaker. One caveat, in all fee ranges, from zero to $100,000 and more, you will find some amazing speakers and you will find some horrible speakers. Fee might relate to value, but not always. Be sure to vet your speakers, watch their videos, get recommendations and referrals, because you never know.

Use these keynote speaker ideas to begin booking your speaker for your next conference. Hopefully, these tips will help make it more exciting and less daunting.


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