Conference & Association Keynote Speaker
As a professional keynote speaker and human behavior specialist—with additional training in tactical, intelligence, and law enforcement techniques—I have the privilege of speaking at conferences, events, and meetings all over the country.
And in my travels, I’ve learned two things. First, I don’t particularly care for hotel towels.
Second, and perhaps more important, there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting or event to engage, educate, and motivate an audience.
Most conferences are held at regular intervals or as a way to announce (or expand on) changes in the organization. Every business goes through changes—to process, personnel, or systems. In the end, though, the specific changes aren’t the issue. The real challenges are the uncomfortable, anxious, or even resentful reactions that always seem to accompany internal transitions.
Shifting roles are like shifting seas: no matter how careful you are, someone’s going to get salty. But as hard as it can be to make changes in your business, it’s a necessary part of keeping your organization moving in the right direction.
I understand the human element of business transitions: from the leadership that drives change (that’s you!) to the staff and team members you need to understand and accept internal shifts. And I know that the fastest way to get your team members to accept a transition is to recognize and respond to their emotional responses.
I also know that every event is an opportunity to address change and inspire leadership. Even if you’re just looking for a general, lighthearted message to unify your team or raise the energy in the room after a long lunch, it’s important to find the right speaker.
What Kind of Speaker Do You Need?
There are two types of conference speakers. (Well, three if you count the sound system…but let’s stay in the human category for now.)
The first is the keynote speaker you bring in to address a specific topic:
You’d like this person to be entertaining as well as informative, but first and foremost, you want someone with the right experience.
The next type of speaker is the fun, entertaining keynote you bring in to start or end the conference (or reengage your audience after a particularly dry or technical presentation… Algebra in the Supply Chain: Using Variables to Eliminate Variables, for example). You’d like this person to talk about effective leadership skills or address change in a way that resonates with your audience, but, more than anything, you’d like this person to be entertaining.
The simple truth is that we retain information better when it’s delivered in a funny way. Your audience will take more away from the conference when they’re having fun and smiling. So, you want someone who can deliver on “the funny,” someone easy to work with, and someone who won’t go over time or off topic. After all, this is your conference.
But finding a qualified, well-rounded speaker—who you also actually like working with—can be hard.
You want your audience—whether they’re staff, customers, shareholders, or partners—to engage with the material and connect with your message. This is especially important if part of your revenue stream comes from putting on these annual or quarterly meetings. And that means bringing in someone that makes the event memorable and shows your audience you’re invested in them.
Tim O’Shea: The Agent of Change
I help organizations deal with change and improve team dynamics by providing insights into the way people think, react, and respond to change. And I do it in a fun and not-so-scary way.
In fact, the number one piece of feedback I receive is, “He’s so funny!” And when your audience is laughing, they’re engaging with the message.
So, what’s my message?
At its core, my goal is to provide a new way of thinking about change. I talk about our bad thinking habits and how they can interfere with our ability to make good decisions during times of change, whether we’re leading teams or handling transitions on our own.
We’re hard-wired to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. That’s not always a bad thing—if you assume your staff would enjoy pastries every week or two, that’s just nice. Unfortunately, we often have thinking habits which lead us in the wrong direction. We assume the worst or accept information without verifying its validity—neither of which is good for business (or for pastry shopping).
Of course, no one likes being told they’re wrong. That’s why I use audience engagement to show your audience how they can be tripped up by their own thinking habits. When we can see how we’re wrong about small things in a fun setting, we can apply those learnings to our professional communication and performance.
Specifically, my keynotes cover three common business challenges:
Regardless of which keynote you request, I bring a fun, entertaining program tailored to your audience and industry.
Change is a part of business—do we really need to hire a speaker to talk about it?
Unless you hired the Mad Hatter, chances are your team doesn’t always respond enthusiastically when they hear “We’re going to make some changes!” And getting your team, members, or attendees’ buy-in during times of change is the most important step you can take to build and maintain momentum in your industry.
Conferences are the perfect environment to share information, make sales, and grow your business. The people attending your conference expect face-to-face meetings as a way to drive collaborative problem-solving and greater results. They’re primed and ready to hear your message.
- 77 percent believe offsite meetings are a necessity.
- 82 percent believe face-to-face meetings bring out the best in people.
- 85 percent believe F2F meetings are more likely to drive breakthrough thinking.
- A face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than email.
So, how can you know hiring a professional keynote speaker is a smart investment? After all, you’re a business with a budget and a bottom line to consider.
Bringing in a professional speaker makes good business sense. Every dollar invested in business travel generates an average $12.50 added revenue and $3.80 in added profits.
In the world of online business, what we do offline is just as important, if not more so. And isn’t it worth investing a little more to keep your team and customers focused and engaged?
We brought in an outside speaker before and they were very difficult to work with.
Don’t give up on bringing in a great conference speaker for your next event just because you’ve hired a dud in the past.
Before hiring a speaker, ask them about their approach and presentation length. Do they engage the audience (like I do)? Will they stay on topic and on time (like I will)? Can they provide testimonials from satisfied clients? (You mean like these?) What’s their background and how are they qualified? (Can you find out more about them?)
How long is your keynote speech?
The average keynote speaker presents for about 60 minutes, which is what I recommend. While there are options available for longer programs (75-90 minutes), my recommendation is not to go more than 1 hour. The reason for this is so your event can stay on schedule. Also, you want to keep your people engaged…sometimes they start to drift after the 1 hour mark, regardless of how good the speaker is. It could be Magic Johnson up there…people still do it. So it’s best to try to keep the keynote to about the length of a prime time TV show.
Booking Your Event
Do you need a funny, engaging, reliable keynote speaker?
I’ve presented for audiences of all sizes, from small conferences of 100-200 people to large conventions with 1500-2000 in the crowd.
And I want to make sure you succeed.