Keynote Speakers, Regarding Your Business … What the — “WHAT HOW WHO”

This week, I had a session with an established (successful) keynote speaker, and we took a dive into what I call the WHAT HOW WHO. I should note that this is a good practice whether you’re beginning your speaking career or are a well-season machine on the platform — be willing to review your foundation as a speaker.


WHAT does your talk do? I’m not referring to what is your topic — WHAT does your talk do for an attendee?
You help drivers start cars quicker.

See? That was a simple — yet, mindless, example. You know, someone told me once (and I’m sure you, too), KISS … Keep It Simple, Stupid. The first time I heard this, I was offended, then I realized, the “stupid” was because I got inside of my own head and tried to be clever. Clever is typically only clever to you and when reading the end of a Sherlock Holmes novel. Think about this…when a user comes to your website, you have less than 5 seconds for them to figure out what you’re about (I can’t actually prove it’s 5 seconds, but not a lot of time). The moment they have to think about your cleverness, you’ve lost them. Meeting professionals are most likely viewing numerous speaker sites, speaker bureau options, etc. On top of that, when a speaker bureau receives your submission, they don’t have time to figure out what you meant. Clever is a clever way of moving onto the next speaker. Be simple and straight forward on WHAT your talk does for an attendee.



Provide a short phrase or bullet points of HOW the attendee will be better (from your presentation). Without value, you’re, as my mother would say, a snack full of sugar without nutrition. Truthfully, she never said this. The point is, I’m talking value proposition. Here’s my pithy example of this (let’s stick with the “drivers starting cars quicker” example):

Amaze your mechanics. Save Gas. Increase the value of your car.

I know, I know, my examples are nonsense, but hopefully, you get the picture. Let’s circle back to your website. If a potential client lands on your website, they need to know within seconds that you can solve the problems they have. By the way, you want to really figure out what problems clients– or the perception of what THEY think you’ll solve … pay attention on those conference calls. There’s nothing worse than being too clever (yes, I’m back to cleverness). Can you really tell me what this means without having to explain it:
I harness the potential of rash decision making.

Okay, again, I apologize the ridiculous phrase, but, if I have to sit there and process what these words mean, I’m OUT. Now, there IS a flip side. There are influencers out there that are known for their name alone and it doesn’t matter what phrase they use, people will buy it. If Oprah titles her book, “Countertops” — people will be all over it — wow, she means “countertops” literally and figuratively. Deep. But we’re not Oprah.



Lastly, who is this for. Yes, you may have somewhat addressed it in your WHAT. But now you can sprinkle with a little more detail — keep it brief and project success. Okay, stand in your “project success” stance. Ready for another bad example (again, we’ll stick with the driver theme)?

An action plan for highly-successful professional drivers.

See what I did — I provided additional support in the value proposition area with using “an action plan” — it’s not just motivation or something to make them feel good, it’s “an action plan” — but then I took the “drivers” in from WHAT, and defined them a little more. By using “highly-successful”, I’m projecting the outcome–but clarifying that this isn’t for amateurs, it’s for professionals. I can’t stress enough how horrible MY examples are, but the bigger point is to be strategic in the words that you use (but simple). Within the 5 seconds, a meeting professional has to know what you do and that you can solve the problem that they have. Oh, no, I’m repeating…this means, I need to end this blog.

I totally understand that much of this might be speaker 101 for you. But let me put it this way, I’m a huge Cleveland sports fan, and while Lebron is still on the team (and hopefully will stay there), don’t you think that he will spend time going back to the fundamentals? He will take time to go back to shooting the foul shots — trying to understand how his body is different than a few years ago and how he now needs to adapt to ensure he can still make the shots.

Enough said. I hope this is helpful.

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