Conferences are an important part of business and are an even more important marketing tool that can be used to make announcements, build anticipation and excitement and generally get people talking about your business. The keynote speaker has among the most important roles here, so let’s see what that involves. At a conference or an event of any kind, there will normally be speakers who will make announcements, who will provide interesting discussions and who will generally entertain and inform the audience. The keynote speaker is one such speaker and is actually in many ways the most important. This person will give the main speech of the day that will set the tone and the objective for the rest of the conference to come. These talks normally last around 45 minutes and will usually serve to lay out the order of the day, to provide some context for the occasion and also to set the energy levels and the mood appropriately. Getting this right is very important for any event, as it will set the tone for the day to come.
If you are a business man or woman, then chances are that at some point you are going to have to do some public speaking. This is important if you hope to address a large group and do some public speaking. This is often called for in the office for instance when you are giving reports, and even more so if you are a manager in which case you might have to report to your staff and probably try to motivate them from time to time.
At the same time though if you are launching a product, attending a tradeshow, or running some kind of corporate event or conference, then you might have to address an even larger audience including the press and a rabble of competitors who all want to see everything go wrong for you. Of course this can all be rather distressing if you don't have a lot of experience with public speaking or are generally nervous of it, but there are several methods you can use to help ensure things go smoothly. Here we will look at a few of them.
Cue cards rather than written notes are highly useful for allowing you to trigger your memory without having to take your eyes off your audience. Eye contact is incredibly important when addressing an audience, and if you don't have it then people won't be engaged, and they might think that you're nervous. Using cue cards with just a suggestion allow you to maintain the overall structure of your speech but at the same time mean you aren't staring at a piece of paper.
Another benefit of the cue card is that it enables you to keep your speech flexible and to change it as you go. This is important as it allows you to adapt in the heat of the moment – meaning that you can respond to the way the audience react, and meaning that you can't get completely lost (because there's no set path to stray from). Of course you should have lots of ideas and the general structure hashed out in your mind, but if you're just robotically repeating a script then it won't sound natural and people won't want to listen.
Talking slowly is the single most important tip for anyone giving a talk in front of a large audience. When you do you will find that you not only come across as more calm, but that you come across as more intelligent, your voice sounds deeper and your audience take more of it in.
You should also make sure to use your space well in several ways. This means for instance moving around the stage to draw the eye, and it means thinking about where in the function rooms is best for you to give your presentation in the first place. Of course some locations won't have lots of options, but if you can choose from multiple positions, then make sure you're somewhere where you will stand out, where sound will travel and where the lighting is flattering.
Take a look at someone on YouTube and the way they speak. If they’re good, then they will almost seem to be shouting and their gesticulations will seem wild. You never notice this while watching them because the camera will ‘sap’ energy. The same thing happens when you’re on the stage, so if you talk at your normal pitch and with your normal levels of enthusiasm, you will seem quiet and disinterested. So up the energy, up the volume and be animated!
Doing all this is easier said than done, so the solution is to practice. Better yet, record yourself and watch it back!