Keynote Speaker – What is it, and how to become one in 3 simple steps

Have you ever thought about how to become a keynote speaker? You probably have, as many think of becoming a keynote speaker as the ultimate symbol of success in their industry. First, we’ll define keynote speaker, and then we’ll discuss three simple steps for you to follow and become a keynote speaker.

What is a Keynote Speaker?

The phrase ‘keynote speaker’ was first used in 1905. The name comes from a musical analogy. A keynote speech sets the ‘key’ of a conference, much like the Oboe player in an orchestra sets the ‘key’ of the piece for the rest of the instruments.

The keynote speech is essentially the main event of a conference. There are no other workshops going on while the keynote speaker is presenting. After the keynote speaker sets the tone of the conference, lesser-known industry experts run smaller breakout workshops.

Becoming a keynote speaker who regularly earns five-figure speaking fees takes a lot of work, but the process itself is simple to follow.

Step 1: Establish Yourself as an Industry Expert

There is no shortcut to becoming a keynote speaker. Why would any organization want you to keynote their conference if you aren’t a proven industry expert? Any article on how to become a keynote speaker that tells you otherwise is trying to sell you magic beans.

First, you have to establish yourself as an industry expert, or “thought leader” in your industry. Establishing expertise in a certain aspect of your industry takes years, but you can shorten the timeframe significantly if you put in the work. Do the following:

Build a Successful Business

Building a successful business doesn’t guarantee you speaking gigs, but it is necessary for gaining clout among your industry peers. Conference attendees want to learn success secrets and strategies from keynote speakers, and you have to be successful to deliver such a speech.

Attend as Many Conferences as Possible

As you are getting your business to a level of peak performance, attend as many conferences as possible. Go to conferences of all sizes. Network with a purpose and build relationships that extend beyond the conference. Take the time to meet any speakers who make the biggest impact on you. This is how you make yourself known in your industry.

Pay Attention to the Qualifications of the Keynote Speakers at these Conferences

Do your homework on the keynote speakers for all the conferences in your industry. Make note of:

  • Years of experience
  • Top professional accomplishments
  • Published materials
  • Digital content
  • Product and service offerings

This will give you an idea of your industry’s standard for hiring keynote speakers.

Step 2: Perfect Your Public Speaking Skills

You have to be an excellent public speaker if you want to make a living off of being a keynote speaker. Fortunately, public speaking is like any other skill – you can improve it through focused, consistent practice.

If you were to give a keynote speech tomorrow, what would the topic be? Prepare a mock speech for you to use as practice. Get in front of a full-length mirror and practice your delivery. Don’t memorize the speech word for word. Instead, use it as a guideline to tell the story of your speech. Pay attention to:

  • The tone and pitch of your voice
  • How much you make eye contact with yourself
  • Your hand gestures and body movements

Another way to practice your public speaking is to find a mentor. Search your network for someone with public speaking experience and ask them to be your audience. This person ideally would know what a successful speech looks like, and would be able to give you actionable feedback for improvement.

Step 3: Build Your Digital Brand to Attract Speaking Gigs

The final step for how to become a keynote speaker is to build your digital brand. Digital marketing is a key part of driving business in the age of technology. Use Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to expand your reach and build relationships with others in your industry. Join industry groups on LinkedIn and Facebook to meet new people, and then do some research into the people you make a connection with. You never know who could lead you to a speaking opportunity.

Social media marketing is useless unless you have a website. The idea is to use social media to ultimately drive traffic to the content on your website. You want to create content valuable to your audience on a consistent basis. Here are some content ideas:

  • Blog articles
  • YouTube videos
  • Podcast articles
  • Webinars
  • Livestreams

Use social media to amplify your best content. The more value you provide through your digital content, the more likely you are to get hired as a keynote speaker.

CTA: In addition to being a keynote speaker himself, Arman also coaches ambitious business executives on how to become a keynote speaker. Contact Arman to schedule a coaching consultation or discuss hiring Arman as a keynote speaker for your conference.


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Comments (5)

  1. Avatar for Arman Sadeghi Sriram Athri says:

    Thank you for sharing details information about keynote speaker & steps to become a good keynote speaker

  2. Avatar for Arman Sadeghi Mila Madison says:

    I never knew the reason it was called a keynote speech. Thank you for that info. It makes total sense. I would love to become a keynote speaker some day, but I’m not comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. You should write an article on public speaking tips.

  3. Avatar for Arman Sadeghi Rosa Kitchlen says:

    I like your tips on how to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. I’m in the healthcare business and I would love to start speaking at industry conferences. I am going to start using these tips to put myself out there more.

  4. Avatar for Arman Sadeghi Mary Coppock says:

    Nice post. I need to work on my digital brand. I am going to become more active on LinkedIn to network with more people in my industry. I never use social media professionally. Maybe I should.

  5. Avatar for Arman Sadeghi Alok Verma says:

    I was not aware of why we call it a Keynote speaker. thanks for sharing. very helpful acticle

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