Never Be Boring: 5 Ways to Never Be Boring as a Keynote Speaker

Never Be Boring by Myra Golden
Never Be Boring, a photo by Myra Golden on Flickr

My clients pay me to deliver a message and they expect me to deliver that message in an engaging, energetic and entertaining way. I put a lot of energy into designing and rehearsing my keynotes and training sessions so that I’m not that boring speaker we all hate. Here are 5 ways I make sure I’m never boring on the keynote stage.

1. I get my audience laughing right off the bat. I don’t walk on the stage saying “Hello” or asking my audience how they are doing. I learned a long time ago that if I could get my audience laughing, I could quickly create rapport, establish my credibility and set the tone for my message. A relevant story with some humor or surprise is my favorite way to kick off a keynote.

2. I limit my PowerPoint slides. (Often, speakers rely too heavily on PowerPoint slides.) I think PowerPoint can be great, but not if it distracts the speaker from her audience. If you’re looking at your slides, fumbling with your remote or reading slides, you’re not focused on your audience. For a 60-minute keynote, I’ll typically have no more than 6 slides. And those 6 slides are usually full screen graphics that emphasize key points of my message. By not focusing on PowerPoint (technology), I am free to focus all of my attention on my audience.

3. I  limit my message to 3 key ideas. A keynote is a short, high impact message designed to inspire people to take action. You can’t give people 10 steps to your method or introduce a half dozen different concepts in a 60-minute message. I give my audience 3 powerful ideas that will help them achieve our goal. They get stories, examples and inspiration to fully master my 3 ideas.

4. Every 8 minutes I introduce some “spice.” I read some research several years ago that said adults will only give you their attention for 8 minutes at a time. After that, they begin to tune you out. So, every 8 minutes I add some spice to my message. That spice might be a powerful story, YouTube video, humor or an interactive opportunity.

5.  I give my audience 100% of my attention. Perhaps the best way I avoid being boring on stage is that I don’t allow anything to come between me and my audience. I don’t use notes so I never have to break eye contact with my audience to look at papers. I rehearse well so I know exactly how long my speech will take and that means I never have to look at my watch. I look at my audience, be that an audience of 50, 500 or 5000 people, squarely and my focus is 100% on the people in front of me.

The next time you have to give a presentation, consider my 5 tips for never being that boring speaker. When you do, you’ll easily rock the stage!

If your dream is to be a professional speaker, check out my “Booked-solid Professional Speaker” Workshop. It begins October 17, 2012.

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