If you missed last week’s blog post, see “How do I Break into the Professional Speaking Business?” Part 1: Basic Core Speaking Items click here.
The Keynote Speaker
Many people when they hear the term “Keynote Speech” they immediately consider a classic motiviational speaker. Someone who is very well known in the industry or market and someone who engages the attention of the audience usually through humor, storytelling or a captivating method.
Keynote Speeches are usually done to kick off major parts of the program. It could be a morning kickoff speech, an afternoon keynote lunch or dinner speech or perhaps an evening closing speech. Regardless of the time of day the keynote speech is delivered, these are typically shorter (15-45 minutes in length) and include some sort of inspirational message to encourage participants to take action in some way. For example, a morning kickoff keynote speaker may be used to encourage participants to take the time to learn more throughout the conference during the days to come. A closing keynote may be a celebrity who will end the conference with a bang.
Keynote sessions are also sometimes called “plenary sessions” because the message is to be delivered to the entire audience of participants. If you are speaking to a conference of 200 or more participants, then the way you deliver that message changes. Keynote sessions will likely have fewer graphics and more storytelling involved. Keynote sessions sometimes will include music and entertainment. Keynote speakers will ALWAYS have a microphone of some sort. Even if you think you can be heard with a large audience, typically, the meeting planners will ensure you have a microphone and may videorecord your session in order to make this available to ALL attendees.
The Workshop or Breakout Session Speaker
The Workshop or Breakout Session Speaker typically runs a longer session than the keynote speech and is typically in the form of a instructor-led classroom session. The workshop may be a full-day session (which is how I started my career) or it may be a breakout session of 1-2 hours. In both of these cases, the speaker is typically a “Subject Matter Expert” (SME) who understands a topic very well and is sharing one facet of knowledge.
For example, I often teach Strategic Planning or Leadership Development as a full-day workshop. If I am asked to lead a 1-2 hour breakout session at a conference, this will usually be a very specific topic such as “How to use Offsite Retreats to Effectively Develop Your Board”. In other words, describing one specific technique and how this can be used to better develop leaders. Some of may be subject matter experts who know a topic extremely well.
You may be a surfing champion and can lead a workshop session of the best places to surf in the world. We share our knowledge through training to a smaller audience (typically 150 or fewer people). In an audience of this size, you can create exercises where people can break into groups, you can have workbooks for audience members to use, and depending on the size of the audience may not require any microphone or other amplification equipment. Workshop session are more intimate and allow more interaction between participants as well.
The Facilitator or Master of Ceremonies
Another form of speaking that is very common is where you are being paid to be a facilitator or a Master of Ceremonies. This may be in the form of being a mediator between a small group of individuals who need to settle a dispute. This may be in the form of a panel moderator where you are facilitating the panelists discussion as well as the audience Q&A reaction. This may also be in the form of a large facilitation where perhaps you are the master of ceremonies or an auctioneer at an event.
Regardless of the size of the audience, facilitators have the gift of ensuring that the session starts and ends on time, managing an audience to ensure as many voices and opinions can be heard, and bringing the audience to a conclusion that is mutually beneficial.
So What Kind of Speaker Are You?
When I first started in the professional speaking business, I was workshop speaker where my primary market was to speak nonprofit professionals regarding leadership development. I never considered myself as a keynote speaker. As I grew my skills as a speaker and I became more well-known, I was asked to serve as a moderator for various panels related to nonprofit management. I was asked to facilitate strategic planning retreats. Later, as my speaking and leadership abilities became more well known, I was asked to be a keynote speaker at various events in order to inspire the attendees to become better leaders.
Over the years, I have served in all of these professional speaking roles (except for auctioneer), and this was because I had a message that resonated with my audience. If you have the skillset, and people are willing to pay for your services, you are a professional speaker!
Communication Powerhouse Tip of the Week: Look at your talents, and carve your career to one that best suits you! Make sure your message relates to your audience and that your message is memorable and appealing them. If you do that, you’ll be asked back and get referrals every time.
How about you? Have you found these tips helpful to Break into Professional Speaking Business? Please add your comment below or contact Naomi here.