The Art of Selecting The Closing Keynote Speaker
Every conference must end on a high, and this is achieved by a speaker who keeps your audience on the edge of their seats. A successful event must end with a dazzling speaker, but the trick is making the perfect choice. For this, you must invariably ask an expert agent.
By James Robinson
In the speaking business, the last speaker of the day is called the “closer”. This professional knows their trade – and that’s to deliver a huge finale. And there are a few subjects and verticals to find these speakers, and we don’t recommend straying far from these guidelines; action adventure, off-beat fascinating subjects, humor, or those who can provide a lens into the future… futurists.
We have found over the years you can’t just rely on sample videos of speakers either, and nor can you rely solely on your colleagues. To find a really good closer, you need someone who has seen a ton of speakers, been in the audiences, and witnessed the reactions.
In many ways, it’s the most important slot, and will be the speech that leaves a lasting impression.
The Action / Adventure subject will draw upon men and women who have done something extraordinary, such as climbing Mount Everest, sailing single-handedly non-stop around the world, or served as a US Navy SEAL commander in the Iraq war. This line of speakers will always draw a crowd, keep them on the edge of their seats, and make everyone feel a little more invincible when cocktail hour hits.
With off-beat subjects, find a speaker relevant to people in the room. For instance, we once recommended Rasmus Ankersen who was an ex-soccer player and sports intellect who had traveled around the world figuring out why some villages in Africa produced the best 10,000m runners, why South Korea consistently has the finest female golfers in the world, and why the top sprinters not only came from Jamaica, but from a specific club in Kingston. His subject was surprisingly relevant to all businesses, and the conversation at cocktails that evening was electric. Janine di Giovanni is another marvelous example who will leave an audience humbled. She’s worked in war zones for 35 years, and brings you right into the heart of the Syrian War. This is not the “Debbie Downer” ending you might expect. It’s a fascination, and your audience will love it if they have an intellectual curiosity.
Did you know many speakers have a background in comedy? It makes sense; it’s the perfect platform to learn the craft of public speaking, working an audience and conquering stage fright. Quite often the speaker demo reel won’t show off the jokes, especially with business comedians. I remember being very surprised by how funny Ross Shafer was in real life, and how Garrison Wynn had the crowd in stitches from the opening minute until his final remarks. The point is to lean on experienced agents who’ve seen so many speakers. On the flip side, many speakers who pose as comedians are sometimes too rude, or even worse, not funny at all. This becomes awkward in a hurry. Tread carefully here.
And finally, the last category that really works with a closer is those who can provide a lens into the future – about our mortality, the future of technology, weapons, business models, marketing, and the world in which we live. It’s always an irresistible subject, and we have a wonderful collection of futurists who leave audiences enlightened. The danger zone in this category is booking a speaker who is touting material from three years ago, isn’t an original thinker, or is dull… one of the deadly sins of this business! Especially for a closer.
We hope this article was helpful and helps you to pinpoint the right closing keynote speaker.
To start your search call us on +1 646-504-9849 or fill out the quick form below.