I couldn't help myself—I had to throw in this visual pun. And no, that's not really the key to the city of Varna, Bulgaria, just a corkscrew made to look like a key.
From time to time, I'm invited to give keynote speeches. What is key in a keynote? Here are a few things off the top of my head: knowing what the organization stands for, what the organizers want, and how storytelling fits in, finding points of connection with the listeners, being relaxed so the audience can listen easily, remaining both friendly and professional, staying within the time frame, choosing appropriate stories, and serving the whole experience up with a generous dollop of good humor. Hmm, this list applies to performances in general.
In the past year, I've given three keynotes. Because I tailor each keynote to the group in front of me, these were three very different presentations:
A keynote for early childhood educators was a mixture of why and how to tell stories and use puppets with young children, along with story stretches thrown in for good measure. I had ninety minutes to bring the listeners into the world of story and puppets. This was a keynote/workshop, with lots of audience participation.
In a talk for the Kansas Museums Association I encouraged museum curators to connect with their visitors through stories. I told some of my polished performance pieces as well as short snippets about story-filled museum visits.
My keynote for The Whole Person, an organization that helps people with disabilities live independently and fully, was a thank-you for volunteers. My goal was to remind the audience that we connect through our stories. Between my own stories I coaxed the audience into telling stories to each other. After suggesting that they continue to tell their stories after the talk, I then finished with a funny story.
Each of these keynotes had its own flavor, but the main dish was story.
Looking for an interesting, fun and engaging keynote? Shoot me an e-mail!