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What Expert Keynote Speakers Do to Create and Deliver an Attention-Grabbing Presentation

Great speakers do more than recite words. They inspire and connect with their audience through passionate storytelling. When you listen to a skilled speaker, instead of waiting for it to be over, you’re surprised at how quickly it went. As you know, garnering this kind of attention is challenging even for skilled and experienced speakers.

The following expert keynote speaker tips will help you improve presentation skills so you can stay at the top of your speaking game.

Follow these eight tips to improve your presentation skills and give a speech people can’t stop talking about. 

1 - Go Beyond Demographics

As a skilled speaker, you know that demographics matter, but you have to go beyond basics to understand your audience. Demographics usually center around characteristics like age, gender, and occupation, which can be helpful, but are ultimately insufficient. Instead of just looking for similarities, try to understand why this group of people is in the audience in spite of their differences. 

Are they interested in the topic, trying to solve a problem, looking for facts, or specifically there to see you? Answering questions like these will help you tailor your speech to make it more engaging and relatable.    

2 - Make It Interactive

As you may have experienced, it is not easy to keep people interested over the course of a speech, especially if it lasts longer than a few minutes. If you can make your speech interactive and get them to participate in some way you can get your audience to be more engaged and attentive. 

Don’t stop at providing openings for interactions; make interacting with you a part of the experience. Ask questions, use humor, include yes or no polls throughout, and ask members of the audience for their opinion. 

3 - Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal

People listen to keynote speeches because they care about the topic or are interested in you, the speaker, as a person. Either way, they want to hear your stories and learn how you got to be where you are today. After all, you were the one who was invited to give a keynote address! 

Sharing stories about your life will also make you and your information more relatable and memorable. So don’t shy away from talking about your unique experiences. Use them to generate interest and build rapport with the audience. 

4 - Become Your Own Subject Matter Expert

Anyone can read a presentation, but an expert speaker understands that audiences want more. They want to hear your stories, learn from your failures, and feel inspired by your wins. They also want a glimpse of your personality, which they won’t get from a slide deck. Your best keynote speaking topics come from your own life experiences.

Instead, internalize your speech so you can present it in an authoritative yet conversational manner. This will make your speech patterns more natural and your information more approachable. It also helps you present yourself as an authority, so it works for speeches that are data focused.

Here are a few tactics for mastering your subject matter:

  • Repeat your speech until you’ve memorized it. You can use a simple outline with trigger words if memorization is difficult for you.
  • Practice your speech in sections until each one feels natural. For example, focus on the introduction and don’t move on until you’ve mastered it. 
  • Recite your speech under stress and with distractions, like while exercising. This will put a spotlight on sections where you are struggling and help you maintain focus. 
  • Create mental images for the main points of every section of the speech. It is often easier to recall these visual snapshots than words alone.

5 - Spread Your Attention Around

You’ve been in front of audiences, so you know how natural it is to focus on expressive people. Smiles and expressions of interest and curiosity will always draw your gaze. This offers interaction and affirmation, making it easy to focus on. 

While it’s good to acknowledge these expressive people, remember not to ignore the rest of the crowd. Most of all, don’t assume a lack of emotion is a lack of interest. This can kill your confidence and derail your speech, and it’s also not correct. Every crowd is made up of different personalities; some are simply less emotive and more reserved.  

6 - Make It a Multimedia Experience

Incorporating various media into your presentation will draw people in and keep them engaged. This could include graphics, music, audio clips from podcasts or books, or clips from popular TV shows and movies. These can be used to emphasize points and connect with people with different learning styles. 

For instance, someone may not get your message if you share just the numbers but a clip from “The Office” that illustrates the same point may resonate more. Plus, these can also act as pace reminders that keep you on time and help with your momentum. 

7 - Study a Range of Keynote Speeches

Watching other speeches can provide ideas and inspiration on how to present information and tell stories. As you watch, pay attention to small details like the speaker's body language, where they look, how they incorporate pauses, and how they interact with the crowd. 

Also, note how the crowd reacts to these various techniques. If possible, look for speeches hosted by the same organization, or in the same venue where you will be speaking. This will give you an idea of the space you have to work with and may help calm pre-speech nerves.

8 - Use Enhanced Practice Tactics

Focusing on the words in your speech will help with flow, rhythm and timing, but not with delivery. Skilled speakers know that the magic is in the delivery. You need to practice every aspect of your speech, including body language, facial expressions, and how you use your gaze. Run through your speech using the same music, visual aids, and props you plan on using for the real thing.

You can use the following tactics to expand your practice sessions: 

  • Practice your speech facing a wall so you have no feedback. This mimics speaking to an expressionless crowd. 
  • Practice your speech in a full-length mirror and pay attention to your body language, not just your face.
  • Record yourself as you give your speech. Review it and look at body language and unintentional gestures, like touching your face. 


Keynote speeches are more than the highlight of an event. As you are probably more than well aware, one good speech can have a direct impact on your career and reputation. You can choose to see this as a stressor or as an opportunity to expand yourself as a professional. Learning how to improve presentation skills can help you prepare for the challenge and turn your next speech into the highlight of the event.
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