A keynote without a title

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 3.24.33 PMI have just received a brief and the brief is simple … Deliver the keynote address at the 10th birthday celebration of the company. Surely something is missing you may ask, because I thought the same and asked exactly what you did. I asked “what would you like me to cover and what is the theme?” The answer which came back was even simpler and somewhat astonishing. It simply read ‘you are the expert, you will know what to say!’

Really? “What am I, some sort of magician?” I thought. Then it dawned on me, we are living in tumultuous times and disruption is the order of the day. No longer can we manage using statistics or metrics of any kind, we are moving at an unprecedented pace and we are on the edge of our seats. We stay on these seats simply because of the momentum and not because we have any level of skill!

Let me focus, what in the world will I speak about? Why would they give me such an open ended brief, especially considering I have never spoken for them before and I have never met any of the executive?  At this point I need to remind myself that my reputation has preceded me and my brand intention has become the perception of who I am in the marketplace. The RuleBreaker and ChangeMaker brand is exactly what is needed and that is exactly why I received the brief I did!

Here are my 10 Tips on speaking like a ‘RuleBreaker and ChangeMaker’

  1. Mingle with the crowd – remember you are not a celebrity, so find out what is happening and find it out quickly before you need to talk. If you are treated like a VIP and are not allowed to mingle … Be extra careful! Your audience may see you as a messenger from the executive and not one of them. You will always be treated with suspicion if you act like this.
  2. Ask yourself … How can I best serve this audience that are in front of me now? Notice I am using the present tense and not the future tense, you will only be authentic if you can be relevant for now, not what you think was relevant yesterday or what might be relevant tomorrow.
  3. Just like an actor on stage, your audience have no idea what you are going to say. For this to be effective and full of impact, you need to ensure that whatever you say has never been said before. There is plenty new under the sun and if people think they have heard it before, you have failed your audience.
  4. Mix things up … Ask the questions before you start your talk, everyone expects to be able to ask questions at the end of your talk. Who made those rules?
  5. Be different, don’t be predictable … Too many people are too normal to be noticed, when you are different you will be noticed.
  6. If you have nothing to say, don’t say anything … Ask questions and interact with your audience. I don’t care how big or small the audience is, they always have more to teach you and others than what you have to teach them at that moment in time.
  7. Your duty is to bring a message to the people, not the executives who are paying you. Have no fear they have learnt everything they can and your ideas will seldom change them. Your audience is the emerging leaders within any organisation. That is unless you have done the same talk for years to what you think are different audiences.
  8. Challenge the ‘Status Quo’ … If you notice routine of any sort, ask yourself why have you noticed it in the first place? Most things go unnoticed and we are oblivious to them. If you can notice the routine and the mundane, you are gifted and it is your duty to question it!
  9. Be yourself, they have not come to hear another famous speaker that they may have heard before. Tell your stories and not the stories of others. They have come to hear you, and you have come to talk, so talk from your heart – don’t recite.
  10. Relax, relax, relax! There is no one as ineffective as a tense person …. Relax, and you will connect with your audience.


Photo credit: Singing With Light via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


About RichSimmondsZA

Retired but still Disruptive
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2 Responses to A keynote without a title

  1. Enjoyed the article. Some great points.


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