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5 Traits That Make a Good Keynote Speaker

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A keynote speech sets the central theme of a conference. Therefore, event planners have high expectations for a keynote speech. These speakers create a framework for the main event and lend direction to the goals and purpose of the conference.

Therefore, if you want to be a keynote speaker, you need to know what makes a good keynote session and what traits this type of speaker should have.

5 Traits That Make a Good Keynote Speaker

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Keynote Speaker Trait #1: A Leader

A good keynote speaker takes an event to the next level by giving life to the event’s theme. A keynote speech needs to move the event forward in a clear and swift manner and inspire and unify the audience. This takes leadership. If you don’t see yourself as a leader, you will be hard-pressed to develop a good keynote speech.

Keynote Speaker Trait #2: Able to Engage an Audience

The Power of Audience Engagement is key to the keynote address. Pre-event research and working closely with the organizers will give you a good head start. But once you are on stage, you’ll need to use that information in conjunction with the “vibe” of the audience before you to create a moving and memorable keynote. Audience engagement is the key to your audience gaining the benefit of hearing you speak. “If they’re not engaged,” Featured Speaker Marty M. Fahncke says, “then there’s no point in you even being on that stage.”

Keynote Speaker Trait #3: Succinct

A good keynote address does not overload the audience with an excess of information. A good speaker will always use the spoken word as their primary tool to communicate their message. This is not the time for fancy visual aids. And if The Power of Visual Aids is used, it is used sparingly and with more imagery than words.

Keynote Speaker Trait #4: A Good Sense of Pace

Maintaining the right pace plays a major role in determining the success of the keynote speech. Too slow, and it drives the audience away. Too fast, and the audience becomes confused. Therefore, you need to master when to intensify or slow down the pace of a session.

Keynote Speaker Trait #5: Authentic

If you’re going to be a keynote speaker, says Featured Speaker Ric Morgan, “you need to step into who you are in your own authenticity.” This means you share your own stories, experience, and observations. You are vulnerable when your message calls for it. And you are not using someone else style.


Ultimately, the success or failure of any good public speaker — whether delivering a keynote or not — depends on whether the audience manages to take home any of the learning. If this doesn’t happen, the entire purpose of the public keynote session stands defeated. In the end, the idea is to help the audience internalize the principles that you convey and give them practical action steps to take away and implement.

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About the author

Carma Spence, The Own Your Awesome Mentor, is author of Public Speaking Super Powers. She is fiercely committed to guiding women to Owning their Awesome and turning it into a profitable business. She is masterful at helping her clients see what is possible for them and supporting them on the journey from where they are to where they want to be, releasing the Mind Goblins of self-doubt, self-sabotage and second-guessing that keep them stuck.

With 20+ years experience in marketing communications and public relations, natural intuitive skills and certification in using some of the most effective transformational coaching tools available, Carma’s mission and commitment is to unleash the inner power every woman entrepreneur possesses so they can boldly go out into the world, transforming the fabric of people’s lives in meaningful and positive ways.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Her website is CarmaSpence.com.