What subject should a keynote speaker talk about?

A keynote speech is the foundation on which the rest of the conference is built. It will sometimes be the only session that brings all the attendees together in one room, so it’s crucial the keynote speaker and subject matter reflect the key themes of the event.

An opening keynote should set the tone for the rest of the conference, laying out some of the issues that the audiences will continue to explore in subsequent sessions. The speaker needs to challenge the attendees to think critically about the subject, and also energise them to engage in the rest of the event.

A closing keynote will look back at the themes discussed at the rest of the conference, perhaps summarising or building on particular strands that have been explored in the previous hours or days. Crucially, the speaker should raise the energy levels again, so that the audience leaves the event on a high, with any key take-home messages at the front of their mind.

How long should a keynote speech be?

As outlined above, keynote sessions are not just important because of their subject matter – they are also crucial for the energy and flow of the entire event.

Getting the timing right is therefore critical. Typically, a keynote session will be anywhere between 30-60 minutes, divided between a speech and audience Q&A. It needs to be long enough to allow proper engagement with the material, but not so long as to exceed people’s attention span. Make sure the presentation element is not so long that the audience’s attention drifts. The interactivity of the Q&A will energise the room, so be sure to leave plenty of time for this.

How do I choose the right keynote speaker?

We know sourcing a keynote speaker can be overwhelming – that’s where a speakers bureau such as VBQ Speakers comes in.

We’re here to make the keynote speaker booking process easy for you. Drawing on our decades of experience in the industry, VBQ Speakers will:

  • Help you clarify what you are trying to achieve with the keynote session: What topics do you want it to cover? How do you want the audience to come away feeling? Are there any particular messages you want them to take away?
  • Help you think through what type of format would work best for your event.
  • Provide tailored recommendations, including biographies, video clips and fees, to suit your brief and budget.
  • Check availability for any recommendations that resonate with you.
  • Draw up the contracts for the booking.
  • Coordinate the briefing call and travel logistics

Take a look at the keynote speakers in VBQ’s network, or browse by topic.

Is a speech format the only option for a keynote?

No! There is no fixed rule for the format of a keynote session. What is important is that it enhances the flow of the event and that it suits the style of the speaker you’ve booked, so take some time to consider you options. For example, “In-conversation” sessions and panel discussions are popular and highly effective alternatives to a speech.