13 Tips for Delivering a Memorable Keynote Speech

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public speakingMany remember their favorite TED talk (Technology Entertainment and Design), even if they only watched it online. For those of you who may not know, TED was founded in 1984 and is now an annual series of global conferences.

Certain speeches, from TED talks to commencement addresses, endure long after they’re delivered, thanks to the Internet.

Although entrepreneurs are no strangers to speaking engagements, not every business owner is quite as persuasive on stage as they’d like to be.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t at least tweak your speech and delivery to take your “just okay” speech to the next level.

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question:

“What is your best tip for writing a great, memorable keynote-type speech that genuinely inspires the audience?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

13 Public Speaking Tips

1. Don’t Write a Speech

“The best way to really motivate an audience is to connect with them. And the best way to connect with an audience is by not reading a printed piece of paper verbatim. It’s the extemporaneousness that will really get them. Through my company, I get to speak to a lot of larger groups of high school students and their parents. I always go in with a very detailed outline – but no sentences. ~ Jessica Brondo, The Edge in College Prep

2. Use the Fact-Example-Fact Method

“I’m not all that funny, nor am I really a storyteller. I focus on providing insightful information — which makes you think people may not come away “moved.,” But at least it’s memorable. I use the Fact-Example-Fact method. Get an interesting fact, illustrate that fact with an actionable example, and restate the fact another way. Put three of these chains together – and you’re set.” ~ Liam Martin, Staff.com

3. Be Vulnerable

“I think sharing vulnerability is one of the most important and powerful parts of leadership. It has to be genuine. That’s what makes it such an emotional, personal, effective speaking tool. Everyone has vulnerabilities and everyone has weaknesses – what are yours?” ~ Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

4. Hire a Brilliant Copywriter

“I wouldn’t hire a copywriter to write a full speech at this point because it’s a process I enjoy. But I think hiring a copywriter to polish your key points is money well spent. I think the most value a copywriter can bring is to make sure you have sound bites and tweetables that people will want to share with their audiences.” ~ Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

5. Make It Stick

“Owning a speakers bureau, I listen to and give a lot of presentations a year. The most important book that I have read on the subject is “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath. Basically, you consolidate all of your points into a core message of 1-2 sentences. Then you use the SUCCES (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories) to build out your message in an engaging way. ” ~ Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers

6. Use Humor to Your Advantage

“Combine climaxes with humor. I talk about starting my first company at 14. I needed a loan to buy a computer; after discussing the challenges I say, “I went home and, finally, founded my first business.” After the applause I follow with, “I called it Apache Ax Cybernetic Enterprises Limited.” Because the audience was emotionally attached, they laugh out loud when they hear the company’s name.” ~ Alexander Torrenegra, VoiceBunny

7. Keep It Simple

“I’ve given a TED talk and delivered 100+ keynote speeches. The most important thing for writing a great, memorable speech that moves the audience is to make sure that your message is understood by the audience. An audience can’t move if it doesn’t understand where to move to. In my experience, there’s no better tip than, “Tell them what you’re going to say. Say it. And tell ’em what you said.” ~ Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

8. Combine Mediums

“Any conversation with an audience has to keep their attention. I start by having new music playing when they come into the room — it sets the vibe. Then, I continue using different mediums throughout the conversation: video, voice, podcast clips, art, imagery/photography, etc. Making a point multiple times, in multiple ways, keeps the audience engaged and drives home the lesson.” ~ Susan Strayer LaMotte, exaqueo

9. Think in Pictures

“These days, almost every talk will be accompanied by some sort of visual slide deck. To instantly differentiate yourself from the herd, banish all words from your presentation (seriously). People think in pictures. Use that to your advantage. Fill the screen with a compelling and beautiful image that deepens the point you’re making. People will focus on what you’re saying – instead of reading.” ~ Josh Allan Dykstra, Strengths Doctors

10. Write the Tweets for Your Audience

“The best speeches capture soundbites that your audience can write down, recall and share quickly. Today, most audiences are sharing those soundbites in real time as you speak. So make it easy on them and write their tweets for them. Consider putting them on your slides. Think in soundbites and make it easy for your audience to consume your speech.” ~ Eric Koester, Zaarly

11. Get Inspired and Tell a Story

“Look at a couple of speeches by people that you know are great speakers, like Arel Moodie or Rishi Shah. These examples can provide you with the inspiration to write something epic. Also, remember to tell a story. Even if you’re presenting on something educational, you can transform it into a story to engage the audience.” ~ John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

12. Focus on the Audience

“Think, “What does the audience want to hear from me? What can I provide that is of value to them?” When you learn to speak in terms of the wants and needs of your audience, you will become an effective, persuasive speaker.” ~ Richard Lorenzen, Fifth Avenue Brands

13. Come Out Strong and Have Fun

“You have to realize that within 30 seconds, 35% of the people have decided they don’t like you. You need a really good 30-second opener to grab their attention. Don’t overburden it with too many slides or words. Weave in personal stories and a sense of humor (if you have one), and be engaging. My primary purpose in public speaking is to motivate. I come out strong and have a lot of fun.” ~ Adam DeGraide, Astonish

Speaker Photo via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

13 Reactions
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  2. Great speech tips. I don’t really have the desire to give speeches. I believe the closest I’ll ever be to giving one is doing a webinar of some sort, which is enough for me.

    I appreciate you taking the time to put this article together for our community; thanks.


  3. Thanks Ti. Very timely article for me. I don’t have to give keynote speeches, but I do give speeches. Got a big one coming up and these are very helpful.

  4. Hi – thanks for a great post – there is so much of value in the article and bringing together the information from such a diverse group is extremely helpful. For me, number 10 has been the most interesting! Thanks

  5. Orvel Ray Wilson, CSP

    After doing keynotes for more than 30 years, I have to say “AMEN!” to all of these suggestions. Last week I was doing a seminar with Tony Robbins in London, and just after the opening, told the audience, “If you’re going to be texting, say something nice,” and put up a slide: “I’m here in London listening to @OrvelRay [Twitter Handle] Wilson speaking about #GuerrillaMarketing [hashtag] and it’s ___________.”

    I was surprised how many nice comments this generated. After the program, I ran a quick search for the hashtag and was able to e-mail all of them back to Robbins Research. See, this Internet thing isn’t just a fad after all. –OrvelRay

  6. A timeless article. I’ve had the pleasure recently of sitting on and moderating panels and even doing a lecture on social media.

    But tomorrow I have the honor of doing my first keynote! I am excited, nervous and after reading this article I have walked away with many, many tips!


  7. After reading this article I have many, many idea’s in my mind related it! thanx for publishing this article.

  8. Its really interesting information for us about the public speaking tips. Your information is very useful and helpful to us. I am impressed to read this interesting information.. Thanks for sharing this interesting information,

  9. This was excellent. I’ve presented on live television for 18 years and spoken to large groups on many occasions, but my first “keynote” is fast approaching! These tips may be from a few years ago, but are so obviously on point for a great speaking engagement! Thank You 🙂

  10. I like what you said about the best speeches capturing soundbites that your audience can write down I think that academic speech coaching is a great way to develop public speaking skills. If I were to hire such a service, I would make an effort to contact the best coach in my area to help me with my speaking skills.

  11. These are some great tips that you listed here. Of these tips, I really like how you should keep the speech simple. If I were having to give a speech, I would do my best to make sure that the audience fully understands the points I am trying to make.

No, Thank You