We previously learned how to prepare for a keynote, let’s now focus on how to write an effective keynote speech. Firstly, get it into your head that a keynote is very different to a short speech- in fact it’s the difference between 6 mins and 60 mins. It’s a privilege to be asked to deliver a keynote and as such should reflect in your writing.

Who are the Audience?

audience looking engaged

Understanding who your audience are and how to engage them is vital. What will press their buttons and keep them glued to their seats till the very last word? What stories will have them nodding in concurrence?

Beginning, Middle and End

Like a good book or a movie, you need three sections:

  • Beginning- set the scene and introduce all the main points
  • Middle- This is the filling, the gumption, the journey.
  • End- the culmination of everything filtering seamlessly into the conclusion.

Diversify a Little

The iron clad rule is to add variety. There’s nothing worse than a long old spillage of facts and figures that leave your memory the instant they’ve arrived. Add variety into the mix. Like all great speakers do, add some personal stories to bring warmth and humanity into your speech. The audience should feel connected to you and should want to know more.

Make Your Audience Care

No matter what the subject matter is, it’s important to let the audience know that they can make a change. Whether it’s a speech about self-improvement or plastic pollution, you want the audience to feel that they can take away the wherewithal to make a change- and more importantly that the fire has been lit in their belly to WANT to make that change.

Make ‘Em Laugh

As with any speech, be it a best man, award receiving or keynote bring some humour into it. Laughter breaks down barriers in so many cases and the introduction of humour can keep an audience ‘s attention for longer. It can also alleviate the tension if the keynote subject is a particularly difficult one. We’re not talking ‘knock knock’ jokes here, but funny ‘real life’ situations work well.


It’s a good thing to think of how you will accompany the speech. Are there slides and videos to highlight areas of interest? Do you have music at any point during the delivery? All of these additional elements need to be introduced during the speech too. Explain what the media or music is showing and why it’s important.

Be Authentic

An audience will see right through you if you’re not talking about something you REALLY believe in. Authenticity is the number one rule in all speaking! Know your subject, speak from the heart and above all don’t diss the competition.

I guess wherever you are in your journey of keynote speaking, it’s encouraging to remember that everybody starts at the bottom. Even the great’s like Guy Kawasaki had his problems: –

I hope it takes you less than twenty years to get to this point. Part of the reason why it took me so long is that no one explained the art of giving a speech to me, and I was too dumb to do the research.

Once you have mastered your keynote speech and have practised it till you’re seeing it in your sleep, the elation you feel from a great reception is worth all the trials and tribulations.

Trust me- I know!

For details on my keynote speeches please see my website- davidhyner.com

Images by Money Conf, JeShoots