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7 Tips For Leveraging Transformational Keynote Speaking To Transform Your Audience

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2022-10-25

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Transformational Keynote Speaking As a leadership development, innovation, and transformation expert, I have spent my entire career refining ways to engage a diverse group of people and lead them, shepherd them, inspire them to change their mindsets and habits for…

 

Transformational Keynote Speaking

As a leadership development, innovation, and transformation expert, I have spent my entire career refining ways to engage a diverse group of people and lead them, shepherd them, inspire them to change their mindsets and habits for good. But when I was invited to do keynotes, the bar was set much lower: inform the audience; motivate them to feel energized, and occasionally inspire them with what is possible.

15 years into my professional speaking career, I decided to see if I could not just inform, motivate, and inspire an audience—but actually transform them too. I chose to go on the journey to become a transformational keynote speaker.

You can see some of the characteristics and techniques for transformational keynote speaking in this companion piece on How To Be A Transformational Keynote Speaker.

 

The Transformational Keynote Speaker As Magnet

This choice to become transformational as a speaker required me to reinvent my art and craft with the specific and conscious aim to wrap up all the juicy information, motivation, and inspiration of conventional keynote speaking within a deeper ‘container’ designed to consciously ‘weave together’ the diverse hearts and minds in the audience so they come to a coherent and aligned state.

Think of the transformational keynote speaker acting as a magnet for 40 or 50 minutes. As the speaker weaves their story—and, at the same time, weaves together the hearts and minds of the audience—the iron filings (the participants) find themselves magnetized into a coherent ‘field’.

When you remove the magnet (at the end of the event) the people feel coherence, resonance, and alignment. The whole of the group is greater than the sum of the parts, each individual.

 

The Value Of Transformational Keynote Speaking

Transformational keynote speaking opens up the rich rewards of using an—in-person or virtual—event, conference, or meeting to:

  • Create a unique shared ‘moment’ in time that people look back to as the start, key pillar within, or end of a transformative journey
  • Catalyze a transformative ‘phase transition’ in the audience or network so they enter a specific state that is different from Business As Usual
  • Spark, in a cohesive and coherent way, the collective power of a disparate group of people
  • Initiate a common purpose and shared language for engaging with the future
  • Generate a memorable experience that is etched into the brain of all participants—and that continues to expand over time
  • Accelerate the repair of schisms  and shocks (stock price plunges, pandemics, painful acquisitions, failed lunches) and honestly surface and transcend elephants in rooms
  • Cultivate a sense of being ‘in-it-together’ through adversity that will help break through blockers of resistance and inertia in future

Learning from HBO: The Seed & The Soil

A few years ago, I met one of the Execs who was responsible for commissioning some of the great HBO dramas that initiated the current golden age of TV: The Sopranos; The West Wing; Six Feet Under; and The Wire.

My client explained to me how HBO had such an incredible period of success: they consciously and carefully crafted a company culture which would attract, and get the best out of, the most transformational storytellers and movie makers.

He described the journey HBO went through as the intention development of an optimally fertile “soil” in which the creative genius TV showrunner could plant their idea “seed”—and it would grow into a phenomenal success. This struck me as a brilliant metaphor—and one that is totally spot-on for how an event producer or client can get the most, and best, out of a talented and transformative speaker.

I am able to plant and water the seeds of transformation in an audience—as long as clients can co-create with me a supportive and healthy soil that can fertilize those seeds and empower them to germinate and grow.

To facilitate this absolute magic, here are some of my tips for bookers, event producers, and leaders for getting the most transformational impact from their investment in a keynote speaker.

 

7 Tips for Event Producers, Bookers & Leaders To Benefit From Transformational Keynote Speaking

  1. Challenge your own assumptions about what a keynote speech can do—it need not just be some nice ideas, funny stories, or motivation tales—and expand your ambition for the role and impact of a keynote speaker
  2. Brief your bureau or the in-house team tasked with finding the right speaker that you want them to be transformational and what the desired outcome of the even is—and then do a pre-booking call to do a fit check (a speaker that is willing to put their whole being into transforming your audience will be delighted to have this unpaid call to ensure that their efforts won’t be wasted—and that you want what they have got)
  3. Take the time during the proper briefing call to share with your speaker the most candid insights you have on how people are feeling, thinking, and acting at the moment—as well as your audience’s unique history, context, and story to date (be unafraid to say it how it really is, elephants and all, as anyone doing genuine transformation needs to know what is before they can take you to where you want to be)
  4. Invite into the briefing call senior leaders, L&D people, Org Dev people, and any others who can shed light on the state of the organization, business unit, network, or industry you want to make a difference to—which also serves to ensure everyone is aligned on the outcome and what is needed to make it likely to happen
  5. Realize that every element of the event can play a part in the transformation—from the language on the invites and event marketing to the way each speaker is introduced—so leverage design thinking to ensure the other speakers and activities in the line-up serve the ultimate transformative aim of the event (and don’t unwittingly block it); utilizing the expertise of any in-house experts, your speaker(s), and bureau in design for purpose
  6. Use the investment in your speakers to have them get involved in other formats during the event—advance teaser video, fireside chats, panels, MCing (all of which will need additional but modest investment)—but avoid the temptation of asking your speaker(s) to fritter away the energy they need to be transformative by asking them to attend drinks and dinners that have minimal transformational potential
  7. Find ways to make sure the event is organized brilliantly and meet your needs for order and efficiency without micromanaging the speaker—especially avoid asking them to freeze the content in place so it can no longer be alive and dynamic in the moment to do the transformation—and then trust them to deliver
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