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7 Characteristics of the Best Keynote Speakers

7 Characteristics of the Best Keynote Speakers

Every speaker strives to be memorable, but some speakers do it more effectively than others. What makes the best keynote speakers stand out? What characteristics do they have in common? Here are seven characteristics of the best keynote speakers that you can use to create the most memorable speech of your career.


1) An ability to tell compelling stories

A great keynote speaker has mastered storytelling. Storytelling is one of our most powerful communication tools; people remember stories long after they’ve forgotten facts and figures. So when it comes to giving a speech, don’t tell your audience all about your experience; share with them how you overcame an obstacle or learned something new. Great keynote speakers use their real-world experiences to connect with their audience and inspire them.


2) They make you want to be like them

As a speaker, you need to come across as someone who is confident and authoritative in their presentation skills. People don’t want to listen to a nervous or shy person give a speech; they want someone who inspires them. Be able to command a room with your presence. Know that people are looking up at you and pay attention to how you speak and how you move around while speaking. If possible, practice before a mirror so that you can see what works for your body language and what doesn’t work.


3) They have grit

No one becomes an effective speaker overnight. It takes grit to overcome fear and doubts about public speaking. A great speaker is committed to learning how to do it, building their skills over time, and doing it even when they don’t feel like it. The great ones keep showing up and putting in effort, getting better every day until they’re at a level where they can influence people with their words.


4) They create actionable takeaways

Good keynote speakers are interested in teaching their audience and have a desire to make change in their lives. In order to do that, they must provide takeaways at the end of each presentation. Whether it’s a question or an action item, anything that causes your audience to pause and think is valuable.


5) They are authentic

Presenters who are genuine and honest, rather than polished and fake, are more memorable. A keynote speaker must be able to connect with an audience on a personal level in order to speak on topics that will impact them. They tell a story: Effective keynote speakers do not merely recite facts and figures, but instead weave stories throughout their presentation. Stories help listeners identify with examples, which causes people to retain more information than they would have otherwise.


6) They let you in on their struggles

From Steve Jobs to Jane Goodall, many famous speakers are open about their own shortcomings and failures. This can be helpful for two reasons: First, by being relatable, they make it easier for you to relate to them; second, hearing about how they overcame obstacles (and then succeeded) can inspire us when we’re facing our own challenges.


7) They actually care

If a speaker just goes through his or her speech and doesn’t make an effort to connect with people, he or she will likely not be remembered by most. The best keynote speakers are those who are authentic and care about their audience—even if it means that they go off-script sometimes. They’re confident: Although some may perceive confidence as arrogant, it is more about appearing self-assured in front of your audience.


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