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Where Should I Place My Speakers in a Program?

Where Should I Place My Speakers in a Program?

You can choose the best speakers for your conference, but if you’ve got them in the wrong order, it can completely change the feel of your event.

Having served the meeting and events industry since 1995, Speakers Spotlight is well-practiced in the art of not only finding the right speaker for your audience but also ensuring they’re the right fit for where you want to place them in your event program.

Do they shine best as an opening or closing keynote? There are subtle differences between those two roles that we take into account when recommending keynote speakers. Below, our team digs into those differences to help streamline your search for the perfect event keynote speaker.

What’s the Difference Between an Opening and Closing Keynote?

An opening keynote speaker holds the important responsibility of setting the tone for your event — their presentation should tie in with the event theme and objective and set a frame of reference for your attendees.

“For an opener, I love a speaker where I’m just really listening intently because there’s lots of content,” Speakers Spotlight’s Senior Vice-President Kelly MacDonald said. “I like something that’s really trends-based or something that is provocative and interesting to get people thinking.”

A closing keynote speaker on the other hand, who’s presenting to an audience after a day (or days) of education, doesn’t need to be a content-heavy session. With your attendees getting ready to head home, you don’t need a speaker to spark conversation, instead you need a speaker to spark contemplation.  

People are most likely to remember what they feel after an event, Speakers Spotlight’s Co-Founder and President Martin Perelmuter said. A more story-driven session at the end of your event can leave your attendees inspired, empowered, and motivated to reflect on what they’ve learned and put it into action.

Discover more in the video below:

What Should I Look for in an Opening Keynote?

Customization is so important in an opening keynote, Martin said. You want to book a conference speaker who can tailor their presentation to address the key points or themes that you want covered, he continued.

Bryce Moloney, Speakers Spotlight’s Senior Vice President, also emphasized the importance of booking an opening keynote skilled at asking really good open-ended questions.

At the outset of your event, you want to get the audience thinking, whether it’s about the future of their company or their industry and the challenges and opportunities ahead.  “That should set off the kind of discussions that are going to create real substance,” Bryce said.

Hear more from our team in the video below about the important attributes to look for when booking an opening keynote speaker.

What Should I Look for in a Closing Keynote?

“There’s that famous Maya Angelou quote ‘people might not remember what you say but they’ll always remember how you make them feel,’” Martin said, “and I feel, especially for a closing speaker, that’s what people are going to take away more than anything — how they feel walking out of that event.”

The closing keynote speaker plays that crucial role of a lasting impression. This is where story-driven presentations excel. At the close of your event, when attendees have just finished a day (or days) of education, you don’t necessarily want to overload them with more information. Instead gift them with inspiration.

If a keynote speaker is a really good storyteller, Bryce said, they’re going make an audience feel something. They’re going to share wisdom through their storytelling that will stick with an audience.

“You may not realize it [at the time],” Bryce continued, “but it will come back up as you find yourself in situations similar to whoever was in that story. That’s a form of wisdom rather than knowledge and I think that’s what stories are really good at communicating.”

Hear more from our team in the video below and discover why closing your event with powerful storytelling will leave a lasting impact on your audience.

Contact Us to Learn More

At Speakers Spotlight, we are experts in the keynote experience — representing some of the world’s most renowned professional keynote speakers and leading industry experts. We not only help our clients find the right guest speaker for their audience, but one that will be their partner in crafting a transformative event experience.

Contact us to learn more and discover how a speakers bureau can help streamline the speaker selection process.

This article has been published as part of our content series, Behind the Spotlight, which explores the inner workings of the speaking and events industry. Every month, our incredible team — one of the most experienced in the industry — will share tips and insights to help meeting and event planners maximize the impact of their events through the power of a great speech.

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