What Is a Keynote Speaker and How Do You Find One? – Expert Guide 2023

We have put together this content to provide you with an understanding of what a keynote speaker is, what they do and what they can bring to your conference. There are several things that need to be taken into consideration when booking a keynote speaker for a corporate function, and we explore the whats, whys, and hows of how this can be achieved in this article to ensure that you leave with a better understanding of this information.

In order to ensure a successful event, it is vital to have a keynote speech that engages, inspires, ignites, and even empowers the audience, as it will make or break the event’s success. The question is, what does a keynote speaker actually do, and how do you go about finding one that you will like and enjoy listening to? What do you think? Let’s take a look at it.

Here we will take a closer look at what a keynote speaker is: What they are, what they do, and where you can book one for your next event. Why? You could definitely take your event to the next level if you are able to harness the power of an accomplished and enticing speaker.

What is a keynote speaker?

There are many speakers at an event, but the keynote speaker usually takes the center stage. The idea of a keynote speech or a keynote address may be more familiar to most people from graduation ceremonies or other similar ceremonies, however event planners routinely make use of these speeches for keynote speeches at conferences, company retreats, wellness retreats, and other large events. One of the most important aspects of an event could be its keynote speaker, who can be referred to as the star or the main attraction.

Keynote Speakers

A keynote speaker is literally the person who sets the tone for the conference or event, defining the “key note” and creating the atmosphere. As they will be setting the basic tone and tenor of the meeting throughout the event, they will be responsible for setting the basic tone and tenor for the whole meeting. A speaker’s role as a complement to the keynote speaker is to add overtones and themes that complement the keynote speaker’s, in order to ensure that the conference’s content and messages are cohesive as a whole. This ensures that the presentation makes sense to the audience.

What is the role of a keynote speaker?

Different keynote roles

Multi-day conferences usually have key note speakers on a separate day of the event, which encourages attendees to arrive on time at each event in order to get the most of the event. As a keynote speaker, you are responsible not only for ensuring that your presentation fits with the overall theme of the conference, but also for providing an overview of the topic and ideas that you intend to share when your presentation is given.

Setting a positive but relevant tone

There is no requirement for keynote speakers to be motivational or inspiring speakers. Motivational speakers often share motivating stories of how they overcame adversity, which, if done well, can get a strong response from the audience, but they don’t often set some specific tone or theme for the event as they usually don’t set a specific tone or theme for the event. As the keynote speaker, it is important to almost always provide audiences with a sense of possibility and inspire them, but he or she must also remain grounded in the specific context of the event and the participants within it.

The role for closing keynotes

The objective of a closing keynote speaker is much more often to ensure that people stay until the end of the event rather than to leave earlier in the day, so the speaker must be able to captivate the audience with their topic and their delivery style. They are also responsible for setting a tone for the event, in the same way that the opening keynote speaker sets a tone for the opening of the event, however as the closing keynote speaker, they need to set the tone for how the attendees will remember and how they will make sure that they take the messages back to their everyday lives after the event. As a result, the keynote speaker should convey inspiration and optimism with his or her closing message. An excellent way to conclude a conference is to present a highly positive view of the future of the industry or community represented at the conference.

Attracting and engaging audiences

A keynote speaker also plays a crucial role in making people feel like they cannot miss the event as a result of their presence: they should be one of the events defining features.

Reputation and relevance

A keynote speaker’s name will sometimes be sufficient to attract the crowd; however, it is likely they will charge a high fee in that circumstance, and they will most likely just give a canned speech. It is also possible that people will be compelled to attend the event because of what the keynote speaker has to say, and the relevance and value of the topic that he or she is addressing.

Social media engagement and promotion

The organizers of an event will prefer keynote speakers who are active on social media channels, because such speakers will not only be able to help promote the event beforehand, but they can also use their social media activity during the event to increase audience engagement. Most keynote speakers do not specifically include the cost of social media activity in their fee, however a good keynote speaker will be willing to engage in some social media activity within the fee that they charge, including recording short videos to help promote the event and engaging in some social media activity ahead of the event. There is a page on our website that provides a ranking of keynote speakers based on their web and social media activity that we can use to identify those speakers who are having the most impact online.

Why is it important to find the right keynote speaker?

There are few things conference organizers know better than the fact that keeping attendees engaged over the course of a conference can be quite challenging, especially one that is quite long. The keynote speaker is often scheduled to open up an event, so hearing their speech at the beginning is also an opportunity for them to set the tone, energy level, and expectations for the remainder of the event. A keynote speaker’s notoriety can, in and of itself, act as an element of attraction for an audience to come to an event, and their power as a speaker can work in either direction depending upon how energetic the audience is once they have arrived.

Keynote Speakers

The art of finding the right keynote speaker for your conference is one of the most challenging things you can do. You are looking for a speaker who can motivate and educate your audience at the same time as sparking motivation among those in attendance. Taking care of your audience, understanding their expectations, and giving them the kind of presentation they are looking for is what makes a great speaker.

What are the qualifications of a good keynote speaker?

A great speaker always has a unique style and cadence that makes them stand out from the rest. Whenever you are searching for an exceptional speaker to deliver the keynote address at your event, it is important to find someone who has a style and philosophy that complements the goals of the event and who can share their thoughts and ideas in an engaging manner. There are also certain professional qualifications that should be met by competent speakers.

While individual traits may vary, a good keynote speaker may: 

  1. It is essential that you specialize in a specific area of expertise, and that you are considered an expert in that field.

  2. In order for your information to be considered credible, you must demonstrate your credibility.

  3. It is important to deliver your message in an engaging, dynamic, and well-paced manner.

  4. Be able to communicate effectively with an audience that has a wide range of skill levels.

  5. An experienced public speaker with a wide range of experience.

  6. It is important for you to have a list of professional references and examples of previous speeches on hand.

  7. Ensure that your public image is one of reliability and respect.

  8. Become a recognized leader in their field and be viewed as an innovator.

  9. Employ a variety of learning methods and delivery styles that are appropriate to the situation.

  10. The event manager should be able to understand and work within the boundaries set by the event manager.

  11. Understand when people are not engaged and be able to turn things around when they do.

  12. A good leader must be able to steer the conversation back on track if necessary, when things go off script.

How to find the best keynote speaker for your event

I believe investing time and effort into the search for the most suitable keynote speaker for your event is worth it in light of the importance of finding the best speaker for the event.


When searching on LinkedIn for keynote speakers, do not use general terms such as “keynote speaker” or similar phrases, but rather use the name of your industry or the theme of your event, as well as the location of the event. Especially if this is a virtual event, I would recommend you to mention the word “virtual” as not everyone who is promoting themselves as a virtual speaker is really competent at doing so. Just because someone ranks highly on a search engine does not necessarily mean they are a great speaker; it is just a way by which a potential speaker can be identified; this should just be a way of identifying possible speakers.

Word of mouth

To start with, one of the best things to do is to ask the people whose opinions you respect who they would suggest for a keynote (whom they have seen speak) and who they would like to hear about at your event, as well as who they would like to see speak.

Speaking bureau

There are a variety of speakers to choose from when it comes to speaking bureaus and a good speaking bureau consultant will take the time to get to know your event so that the best speaker can be recommended. The bureau commission is absorbed by some speakers, but not all of them, in their fees. There are numerous speakers who will be willing to work directly with you in order to offer an efficient, highly professional experience at your event if you have an idea of who you are interested in for your event.

Looking deeper

You should take the time to watch videos of a few of the possible keynote speakers once you have a shortlist of potential candidates to see if their style is something you are looking for. As much as possible, try to watch portions of their speeches rather than just showreels of their speeches in an attempt to give you a better idea of what it is like to be in the audience rather than just watching the showreels.

Set up calls with candidates

There might be a particular speaker you have in mind or a short list of speakers that you would like to invite to the event, and if you are interested in having them join you on a call to find out if the event, topic, and messaging will be of interest to both of you.

Making the keynote a perfect match

In order for the keynote speaker you choose to be the perfect fit for your event, there are a number of important elements that need to be taken into consideration.


In spite of the fact that many guests may address a conference, the keynote speaker is the focal point, the main event, the star of the show. Having a renowned speaker at your conference will enable you to address the key themes of your conference in addition to allowing them to give their opinion on topics and trends related to those themes.

Of course, a speaker is capable of being both, but the distinction lies in the role that is discussed with the audience prior to the event. It is common for a keynote speaker to be given specific instructions as to what topics, themes, and insights they will be asked to share with the audience while a guest speaker may be given more freedom to share their own unique stories. To ensure that the information gained at the conference is relevant, authoritative, and relyable, it is important for the keynote speakers to present a fine balance between the speakers’ own experiences and the context of the event as part of the keynote speech.




Keynote Speaker Meaning

In a conference, the conference speaker is responsible for presenting the central theme of the conference. Most of them are experts in their fields, and can provide extensive knowledge on a specific topic or industry that they are knowledgeable about. A keynote speaker is responsible for providing the keynote address at an event, and serving as the main speaker on the stage.

There are a number of differences between the keynote address compared with the typical talk delivered by a guest speaker, namely: the keynote address is usually longer, it is delivered by someone whose presence at the event is an attractive enticement for potential attendees and the keynote address is usually a microcosm of the theme of the event


The term keynote speaker refers to the speaker who performs the opening or closing remarks at a conference or event. Most events opt to have one keynote speaker at the beginning of the event and another at the end, even though there may be two keynote speakers – one at the beginning and one at the end of the event.

As a keynote speaker, your main responsibility is to reiterate and drive home the main message that you want people to take away from the meeting. A keynote speaker is someone whose address often relates to the reason or purpose behind the meeting or to the major and underlying theme of a larger idea, hence the word keynote refers to the main and underlying theme of a larger idea in public speaking.

Speaking Fees

For exposure to new clients, some beginning speakers are willing to give their time for free as an inducement to speak. The average speaker may earn between $250 and $1,000 per event. There is also a difference in the rates charged by keynote speakers based on their location, as those in areas where there is a higher cost of living may be asked to charge more than those in areas with a lower cost of living.

One of the key tasks that keynote speakers are responsible for is inspiring the audience, encouraging them to participate in the event, and appreciating their attendance. Keynote speakers can be funny, motivational, have a high level of recognizable name recognition, and even be recognized experts in the field.