What Makes a Keynote Epic?

By Jane Atkinson

What makes a keynote epic?

An epic keynote is one you remember years down the road. And more importantly, you can remember specific things that were said. An epic keynote contains compelling stories that are well crafted and well delivered. An epic keynote likely contains humor, but not always. An epic keynote makes you think. An epic keynote drives you to take action.

An understanding of what sort of presentation you want to deliver is imperative to beginning the process. In my newest book The Epic Keynote, I go over my three-step Ready, Aim, and Speak phase process approach for putting together an epic keynote. Here is what it looks like:

    • PHASE I – READY: Many people miss the Ready step. Not just in developing keynotes, but in other areas of business. If we think about the speech as a house, the Ready phase is essential to building a strong foundation. Think of your message clarity as the concrete and footings that will hold up your house. Without it, we might suffer a collapse. So let’s do it right!
    • PHASE II – AIM: In the Aim phase, we start to work on the fun stuff. We develop our key ideas and formula. We lay down the outline of the speech and work on opening and closing stories. We get a handle on what kinds of stories we’ll use and perhaps work on incorporating some humor – something which is so helpful to making a keynote great. In the Aim phase, you’ll choose your techniques and start creating the walls and roof of your house. We’ll get the drywall up and the hardwood down. We’ll install windows and doors. You could move in now, but you might want to see what Phase III has in store before you do!
    • PHASE III: Speak: In this phase, we’re going to work on the window dressing of the speech – that is, your style. This is what will make the speech your own. This is where we start adding our personality to the home. We paint the walls our favorite colors, we add some furniture, window treatments and throw rugs to cozy it up. Now the house reflects us!

[Tweet “An epic keynote takes your audience on a roller coaster ride, gives them an experience and then closes on solid ground.”]

When developing a keynote, especially one of epic proportions, you have to have a solid strategy. You have to first get clear on the outcomes you want. Then think the speech through from every angle, upside down and sideways. You have to know how you’re going to open, how your stories will build and take your audience on a roller coaster ride; give them an experience. And then, you need to close on solid ground.

Jane, ever since The Wealthy Speaker came out, I’ve recommended it to every speaker who calls me for advice. I will now add The Epic Keynote to make it a reading list of two. It’s beyond helpful…it’s really, really good.
~ Joe Calloway, author, Be the Best at What Matters Most

Which phase do you see to be the biggest struggle for most speakers? Would love your comments below.