A friend about to give her first keynote speech asked my advice on how to approach it, then suggested I post the advice for others to see. So here it is:
- Keynote content has a large burden. Ideally it provides context — or at least controversy — for the rest of the event. It should have big ideas of where we’ve been or where we’re going, but also be grounded in the practical in a way that makes it relevant to attendees. It isn’t very difficult to strike this balance, but probably different topically from what we do day-to-day, so give yourself extra time for research and imagining.
- The keynote speaker also becomes an implicit ambassador of the event. While some may board their private jet immediately following the talk, I found that I felt I should continue the keynoter persona throughout the event, answering questions and socializing with everyone, including the organizers.