What is a RADICAL keynote speaker (vs a ho-hum one)

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There are a ton of ho-hum keynote speakers out there, and they’re not really fulfilling the role they were meant to. Let’s talk about what a keynote speaker is, and what the signs are of a keynote speaker who has the ability to cause massive, permanent change to society.

Are you ready?

But first…

For those of you who are new to my blog/podcast, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder , financial services motivational speaker, and marketing consultant . I have a weekly newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics which is best described as “fun and irreverent.” So please subscribe!

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an irreverent and fun marketing consultant for financial advisors.

What is a keynote speaker?

Let’s start with the definition of a keynote speaker.

As I’ve said before in other blogs about keynote speaking:

A keynote speaker is someone who motivates others with their words and actions as delivered in live presentation. Successful keynote speakers are able to impart relevant knowledge to the audience that causes a dramatic and permanent shift in their behavior for the benefit of society.

-Sara Grillo, CFA

There’s enough problems in society that need to be overcome. The keynote speaker’s defined role should be as an agent of change, to teach, motivate, and equip the people listening to act and think differently than they did before the speaker took the podium.

But unfortunately that’s not what really happens most of the time. Usually the speaker’s words aren’t well-retained, don’t hit on what the audience wants to know, and their message fades within a few hours of the talk.

What a keynote speaker is NOT

  • A fee collector
  • A rockstar
  • A product pusher
  • A salesperson
  • A book vendor
  • An email address collector
  • A egotistical person

Have you hired some of these keynote speakers before? They weren’t really keynote speakers, were they? They didn’t really fit the definition of a keynote speaker that I articulated above.

See, because it can’t really be about the speaker if the talk is going to effective. It has to be about the audience. Most speakers talk a good game, get the gig hooked up, and then go in there and talk about things in a way so that their business will have a direct benefit. They pocket their keynote speaker fees and board the plane.

How does being a keynote speaker mean anything in this context? It doesn’t. Many are just glorified salespeople.

What being a keynote speaker means is being someone with impact. To do that, as a speaker, you have to detach entirely from your personal interests and focus instead on the audience’s.

This is rare.

How can you have radical impact on the audience?

The only way that speaker is going to really connect with the audience is by doing the work before the talk.

This one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and isn’t worthy paying for. If you are going to hire a keynote speaker, look for one who:

  • Take the time to research your audience
  • Will poll, survey, and gather factual data on the people they are giving the talk for
  • Will ask the right questions of you to learn about your audience
  • Has objectivity enough to abolish the personal benefits they want to get out of the engagement
  • Puts the listener’s interests first
  • Does not pitch or see the talk as an opportunity to develop their business goals
  • Has a passion for the betterment of society and see their talks as a way to improve people’s lives
  • Thinks of ways to engage with audience members on an individual or group basis in a way that gets them involved in the meaning of the keynote talk you are giving
  • Ensures that the presentation will be accessible to people with disabilities
  • Asks the right questions of the audience and listens to their response

Unless the person does all this, their work as a keynote speaker lacks meaning.

I really don’t know why more speakers don’t customize their talks to the audience. If I were looking to hire a keynote, I wouldn’t hire anyone who wasn’t willing to do that. I mean, what are you really paying those keynote speaker fees for? Why wouldn’t you just show the audience a video of the person speaking if it’s the same talk from one to the next?

Find a good one

If you’re going to pay, find a good keynote speaker to hire. Here’s how.

  • Social media.
  • Word of mouth
  • Google
  • Industry groups

You know what all of these are so I’m not going to explain.

Some people recommend using speaker’s bureaus to find a good keynote. I think that’s BS because if the person were really that good, why would they need someone to promote them? And how do you know the speaker’s bureau is pushing them because they really believe in them vs. needing to make a buck?

Ready to hire a RADICAL keynote speaker?

My keynote talks are radically different from the ho-hum speakers you’ve hired in the past – and worth trying at least once.

The bottom line is that I’m not in it for the glory. I’m in it because I want to make permanent and real change in society, and I’m willing to outresearch, outwork, and outprepare the other keynote speakers for hire to make my talks of highest relevance to your audience.

My approach is radical because that is what is needed to cause the change the world needs.

I am a financial services keynote speaker, and here are my financial keynote talks.

How to hire me as a keynote speaker for your event

My keynote speaker fees are $15,000 plus travel,  hotel, and meal reimbursement. Message me here to set up this talk at your company.

If you are not sure if I am the best keynote to hire for your conference or event, I’d be happy to have a conversation and see.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll at least join my weekly newsletter or connect with me on LinkedIn to stay in touch.

See you at the podium!

-Sara G

Any questions? Send 'em in!