Microphone Picture Delivering a great keynote presentation that sticks is not as easy as it may seem. However, there are certain elements that all exceptional and outstanding key notes have in common. So, if you want to get in the game, begin by reviewing and applying the following guidelines.

1. Connect with your audience, be in tune with your purpose and be passionate about your topic and the audience

The best way to motivate your audience is to connect with the people, and the best way to connect with them is by not reading notes you prepared in advance. Instead, you have to begin by holding firm to your purpose and your passion. Your audience does not want to listen to a written speech but longs for being engaged and emotionally moved. People are sitting in the audience because they want an experience, not just a sheer information. They want to feel something, not just listen to somebody.

2. Focus on your audience

You may be a professional and an expert in a specific subject area. However, unless you know how to connect with your audience, your knowledge is not worth a penny. So, as already stated, you have to connect with your audience and establish rapport! It all starts with respecting your audience and realizing that you are there to serve them and not to present your products, yourself or your enterprise. Always ask yourself a question "What does the audience want to hear from me? What value can I offer them?" When you learn to speak in terms of needs, wants and solutions to problems, you will not only come across as a troubleshooter and service provider but also as an effective and persuasive speaker.

3. Tell stories

Look at a couple of memorable speeches and presentations by people that you know are great speakers, such as a former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his speech to Stanford graduates. All great speeches and most memorable keynotes have one commonality - they contain stories. So, try to tell a story. Even if you are presenting on something educational, you can transform your presentation into a story to better engage your audience. Storytelling is the most effective way to deliver meaning in an engaging, entertaining and, therefore, memorable way. “The world is not made of atoms. It’s made of stories,” said poet Muriel Rukyser.

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4. Use humor to your advantage

Combine climaxes with humor to emotionally connect with your audience. In combination with great storytelling, humor is a powerful lever to engage your audience because it triggers emotions and makes you come across as a friend and not as a lecturer or a presenter. However, remember, humor varies from person to person and from group to group. What you find funny is not a reliable indication that everyone else will find the same type of humor amusing. As stated above, you have to tailor your keynote to a specific audience to maximize the potential of humor.

5. Get visual and think in pictures

Nowadays, almost every presentation and speech will be accompanied by a bunch of slides. Per se, this must not be an issue if you do it right. So, if you want to spark people’s imagination, better rely on images rather than words. The root of the word imagination is image. Because all of us think in pictures, you have to use that to your advantage by using images that deepen the points you are making. This technique also makes your audience focus more on what you are saying, instead of just on what you are reading. Although it has been said a thousand times, it is still true: a picture really is worth a thousand words.

6. Have confidence and come out strong

The root of the word “confidence” comes from the Latin “con-fide”, which means “to have faith.” As such, you need to have confidence and faith in yourself in order to come out with a great performance and a memorable keynote. Always believe in yourself to make your audience believe in you and your story.

7. Remember the KISS principle: “Keep It Short and Simple”

Another key success factor is to ensure that your message is understood by the audience. An audience cannot be motivated to action if it does not understand where to move. To achieve that, you have to keep your key note as short and simple as possible. When Michelangelo was asked how he created David, he said that it was really simple — that he merely took away “everything that was not David.” So, be straightforward and tell your audience right away what you are going to say, then say it, and finally tell them what you said in order to get your message across and really move the audience.

8. Celebrate what works

If you want to positively move your audience and motivate it, give examples of what worked well in the marketplace. Focus on the “bright spots” and share victories, best practices, and lessons learned.

9. Make it stick

At the end of your key note, consolidate all of your points into a core message of 1-2 sentences in one “So What Slide” to anchor your key message in the minds of your audience.

10. Walk the talk

Do not physically hide anywhere behind a podium but get moving in order to move your audience mentally. Excellent presenters are always genuinely moved, and it is natural for them to come out from behind the podium and actually move around — as in, “walking the talk”. People in the audience are not sitting there to watch you read from your notes. Instead, forget your notes and do not read them to come across as more of a “natural” presenter. Your audience is sitting there to watch you inspire them.

The above tips are not a recipe that you must apply in order to become a great speaker. There is no recipe and no “ONE” way of giving a memorable keynote presentation that moves an audience. However, the abovementioned aspects may serve as a kind of lever to enhance your skills by creating awareness and help you find them in yourself and maximize your potential.

About the author:

Mark Opresnik Picture Prof. Marc Opresnik is a Professor of Marketing and Management and a Member of the Board of Directors at SGMI St. Gallen Management Institute, which is a leading international business school. In addition, he is a Professor of Business Administration at Luebeck University of Applied Sciences as well as a visiting professor at international universities such as the European Business School in London and East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. He has 10 years of experience working in senior management and marketing positions for Shell International Petroleum Co. Ltd.. Dr. Opresnik is the author of numerous articles and books. Along with Kevin Keller and Phil Kotler, he co-authored the German edition of "Marketing Management", the "Bible of Marketing". Dr. Opresnik also was chosen to be the co-author with Phil Kotler and Gary Armstrong of the Global Edition of “Marketing: An Introduction”, which is one of the world’s most widely used marketing text book. In addition, he is a co-editor and a member of the editorial board of several international journals such as “Transnational Marketing”, “Journal of World Marketing Summit Group“ and “International Journal of New Technologies in Science and Engineering“. Effective March 2014, he was appointed “Chief Research Officer” at "Kotler Impact Inc.", an internationally operating company of Phil Kotler. In addition, he was appointed “Chief Executive Officer” of the Kotler Business Program, an initiative to enhance marketing education world-wide via online and offline learning with Pearson as a global educational partner. As a president of his consulting firm “Opresnik Management Consulting” ( https://www.youtube.com/c/MarcOliverOpresnik ; https://www.facebook.com/MarcOliverOpresnik ; http://www.opresnik-management-consulting.de ), he works for numerous institutions, governments and international corporations including Google, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, SAP, Shell International Petroleum Co Ltd., Procter & Gamble, Unilever, L’Oréal, Bayer, BASF and Adidas. More than 100,000 people benefited professionally and personally from his instincts and experienced him as a coach at seminars on marketing, sales and negotiation and as a speaker at conferences all over the world including locations such as St. Gallen, Berlin, Houston, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, London, Paris, Dubai and Tokyo. With his many years of international experience as a coach, keynote speaker and consultant, Marc Opresnik is one of the world’s most renowned marketing, management and negotiation expert.

Ryan Kettler: 5 Ways to Connect with Your Audience Emotionally to Drive More Engagement
Chris Bowler: Keep Your Audience in Focus – 16 Resources for Effective Presentations
Business Collective: 13 Pointers for Writing a Memorable Keynote Speech
Mitch Ditkoff: 10 Tips for Giving a Kick Ass Keynote
Opresnik, M.: The Hidden Rules of Successful Negotiation and Communication: Getting to Yes!

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