Common keynote challenges and how to deal with them

Disclaimer: this article is referring to Keynote Speakers challenges, and not the Apple equivalent of PowerPoint.

Are you preparing for a keynote speech? That’s why you stumbled upon our article. Don’t worry you are not the first speaker to look for problems that might happen, it just means that you want to be ready for the big event. Congrats!

Even if we made a few previous articles about keynote speeches, we want to remember what is the essence of a keynote speaker:

The term ‘Keynote’ comes from the world of Music and refers to the note that is played to determine the ‘key’ in which a song is performed. The importance of getting the Keynote right is therefore essential as it determines everything else that follows.

Similarly, a Keynote Speech sets the tone of your event. It establishes the framework for everything that follows. It sets the underlying theme, the most important revelation, and the core message that everything else in your event will follow. Because of this, a Keynote Speech needs to be planned at the beginning of your event. This makes it the most important Speech at your event.

Paul Hughes

There are a lot of challenges a speaker can face, there is stage fright, you might have someone walk out on your talk, or you might get interrupted a lot. But in this post we will cover particularly the situations that a keynote speaker may encounter.


 #challenge 1. You are not right for the event


In search for a keynote speaker for their event, a meeting planner puts together a list of speakers that they think would be suitable for the keynote. As you get contacted and receive more details about the event, the message they want to transmit and the audience you realise that there is nothing you can do for them. 

A good keynote speaker knows which questions to ask you in order to know whether he or she is a good fit.This doesn’t mean that you are not a good keynote speaker, but it shows that you put the success of the speech before you. 

Organizers of the event don’t usually take it easy, but make sure that you explain to them why you are not the right person and you can even recommend them to somebody. 


#challenge 2. Early morning audience


As we said in the beginning a keynote speech is the first thing to happen at an event. This means that you will be the first to officially speak to the audience, they just had coffee, some of them are running late and you are setting the tone of the day.

Your speech should catch their attention from the first minutes. A boost of energy and enthusiasm is the key. Make them feel like they are your friends or family, start with a funny story ( related to the topic ) and dive after the subject. 

If it’s not the first time you give a keynote speech you are probably used with people moving, entering the room randomly, exiting the room whenever they feel like. For those who just begin their path, don’t take it personally. What is important is to deliver your message to the audience.


#challenge 3. Passing a clear message to the audience


Before even starting to build your message ask a lot of questions about the audience. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what would be relevant for them. 

“ Why would this matter to my audience? “

“ Is this the best way to reach them?”

“ What are the objectives of my speech?”

“ What are the actions I want my audience to take?”

“ What are their takeaways from the speech?”

The message you are transmitting must be clear in your mind, pass it on a paper and be sure it is also clear outside your head. Next step is creating a visual presentation to support your message in front of the audience.  

For example, when we design a keynotes presentation we also do our research on the audience they have. This allows us to create a design that is familiar and easy to understand for them. 


#challenge 4. Preparing a top presentation


As the big star of the event, or the first speaker to go on stage in the conference, all eyes will be on you. Your clothes, your hair and your presentation are the first impressions you make in your audience mind. They will decide if you are worth their attention before even speaking. Of course this can change during the speech, but better having their attention from the beginning.

Your presentation is the tool for bringing the message to life. Most people are visual persons, if they see your ideas on the big screen it will be much easier for them to follow you and remember the content after. 

You can check more about how to prepare a presentation for a keynote speech here: 

7 things to improve in your keynote speech presentation


#challenge 5. Overrunning on the program


Every conference and every event has a well prepared agenda. Talks, breaks, lunch and sessions are counted by the minute. It’s a sign of professionalism to finish your speech on time. Any delay you create will be cut short from other speaker time or from other activities prepared for the audience. 

Create your presentation in the amount of time you are given. Rehearse home with a timer, the audience will notice if you try to squeeze in the last minutes all the information you have left. It is also stressful for you as a speaker to have a lot of content to deliver but not enough time, or too much time and not so much relevant information. 

Prepare a qualitative speech, not a long one. Find the shortest and most efficient way to transmit your message to the audience. 


#challenge 6. Giving the same speech during multiple events


It is normal for speakers to find themselves given the same speech for different events. You can see it as an opportunity to improve your speech, your presentation, your live performance. After 10 events that ask you to deliver the same speech you can change the anecdotes, or add new information, new experiences.

The speech may be the same, but the audience is always fresh. Rely on your interaction with them and their reactions to your speech. The key is flexibility. Make small changes in your speech and adapt it to every audience, this way it will be more pleasant for you to perform. 


It is not easy to prepare a keynote speech presentation and the expectations are high. Put all your effort into it and if you need consulting we are one button away.

What other challenges have you faced? Let us know in the comments!👇

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