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When to go for a keynote and when to go for a seminar

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In the speakers business we operate not only within traditional keynotes which typically last between an hour or two. We also have a number of competent and professional speakers who offer either tailor-made seminars for clients or seminars and courses that are extended versions of their usual keynotes.

But what are the differences between a keynote and a seminar and when to use one or the other? To put it simple, we recommend a keynote if you need here-and-now inspiration or a pep talk and a seminar if you are looking for more long-lasting and professional methods and tools.

Generally speaking, seminars provide more in-depth content as they usually last longer and offer better chances in terms of dialogue, reflection and practical exercises. Seminars are typically also more tool-based – the guests will leave with new inspiration and knowledge as well as practical tools and methods to use in everyday work life.


Room for both shared and individual competence development

A keynote is usually aimed at the entire organisation or an entire sector and there will be no time for working in groups or with individual employees. With seminars time is the key factor because there is more time meaning you will naturally have a better chance to develop individual employee competences, especially with long-term seminars. Seminars also give you the chance to spar with both speakers as well as colleagues, discussing and trying out new tools and methods introduced during the seminar. Overall, seminars are more engaging and also demand more from participants unlike a keynote.

Keynotes usually do not last as long so they typically do not offer the same in-depth approach. They are more like an energy or inspiration boost or a means of adding variation to an event or everyday routines. In most cases a keynote will not be as content heavy or tools- and methods-based as seminars (of course depending on the context). The pace is typically faster and with more room for entertaining anecdotes and stories as there are not the same expectations as regards theory and analysis. The keynote is typically more like a general template unless organisers made special arrangements with the speaker prior to the event about content, angles, etc. The seminar is usually more specifically targeted to fit a given organisation and whatever challenges it may be facing.


Topics suited for seminars

  • Change management
  • Job satisfaction
  • Children and young people
  • Communication
  • Stress
  • Strategy implementation


Topics suited for keynotes

  • Peptalk
  • Well-being
  • Efficiency
  • Positive psychology
  • Cooperation
  • Authors and stories

Whether you are aiming for a keynote or a seminar it is important that you settle on a purpose or overall goal beforehand. What challenges do you face? How much time and what kind of budget will be available for a seminar or a keynote? What are the goals prior to, during and after a keynote or seminar? Are you going to be proactive and prepare yourselves for new goals and strategies, are you in the midst of a crisis that calls for immediate external advice or have you passed through a period of change and now you need to evaluate? Make sure to be very concrete and precise about expectations, demands and purpose so that you can make the right choice or either booking a keynote or setting up a seminar to better your organisation.

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