Nick Webb

Healthcare conferences are very important to the medical professional and non–profit world. They are the central avenue for dispensing information to a wider audience. Beyond education, these events are integral in networking and sharing ideas within a particular medical community.

One of the biggest challenges of putting together a healthcare conference is finding the right experts and speakers. And the keynote address is the most important of all conference components. It sets the tone for the rest of the event.

Healthcare speaking is a very specific challenge. If you are looking for a keynote speaker, there are lots of factors to consider.

The good news is that there are some strategies you can put into place to guarantee you find the perfect healthcare keynote speaker for your event. With a little bit of planning and direction, you can identify the right one to ensure you accomplish your conference goals.

What Is a Keynote Speaker?

Keynote addresses are the main speeches or presentations at an event. In music, the keynote is the first note of a musical scale that sets the tonal progression for the piece. Similarly, a keynote address aims to hit the key notes of what the conference or symposium is about.

The keynote speech frames the subject matter and sets the stage for the rest of the event. You can use it to introduce new ideas or lay the groundwork for what will be discussed in subsequent talks, breakout sessions, or roundtable discussions.

Note that keynote addresses do not have to be at the beginning of an event. You can use them to wrap up a conference and to motivate audience members to go out and accomplish certain goals.

Keynote speakers are often renowned experts in a particular field. Some are professional speakers, but not always.

Even if not, they will likely have some experience in public speaking. Keynote speakers will have the skills to entertain, motivate, and inspire, in addition to informing the audience.

Keynote speakers can often bring prestige and inspire interest in a particular event. Seeing an expert in a certain field can raise awareness and drive attendance at the conference itself.

Tips for Finding the Right Keynote Speaker

There are a few main strategies you can put into place to find the right person for a health speech. Here are five to consider.

  1. Understand the Theme(s) Of Your Event

Continuity is important. You want your keynote address to be in keeping with the general theme or themes of the conference or event.

If you have a keynote address set towards the beginning of a conference, such as an opening plenary, then it should set the tone for the rest of the event.

Relaying information in a consumable form is important, but it should not be the only thing audience members take away. It should set the stage for the rest of the information they will be encountering throughout the conference.

  1. Assess Your Goals

There is no such thing as a speaker who can “do it all.” Some speakers can inspire, motivate action, or condense complex concepts into usable information. You may want some combination of these attributes, but a good starting place is to understand your overall goals and then work from there.

Prioritize what you aim to achieve with the keynote address. Is the speaker’s goal only to inform or to inspire the crowd into some type of action? The search for a keynote speaker who is both an expert in the field and can motivate the crowd will look very different than an expert who can present information.

Likewise, your goal may be largely to entertain. We have all been to conferences where the speaker is a prominent expert in the field but is boring the crowd to tears.

  1. Understand Your Audience

A big part of finding the right keynote speaker is understanding your audience. For instance, what knowledge of the subject matter do they bring to the event? A keynote speaker who is there to raise awareness about a particular subject area will employ a different strategy than one who is there to drill down on complex issues or to present information that inspires the crowd.

This also extends to demographics. Does the audience comprise experts in the field or regular people that are there to learn more about a topic? What about the average age of the audience? A younger audience will respond differently to distinct speaking styles than one that is older.

  1. Have Clear Expectations for the Role

Establish at the outset what functions you would like the keynote speaker to serve. Will the person deliver the address and then leave? Do you want them to manage a breakout session or another seminar? Having a clear vision of the precise roles you want them to serve will help you narrow down the search.

  1. Request Proposals

One tangible thing you can do when looking for a professional keynote speaker is to solicit ideas from candidates. Rather than telling them exactly what you want from the healthcare speech, get their opinions. This accomplishes two goals: it gives you more ideas for the event and allows you to gauge potential speakers.

This can be as formal or informal as you like. Ask for written proposals that include industry-specific work. Or simply have telephone conversations with prospective candidates. Either way, treat it like a job interview. Quality candidates will be happy to make a case for why they will be the best fit for your event. In my busy speaking practice, I provide a fully stylized and completely customized talk abstract that includes detailed talk takeaways. Any professional speaker should be able to provide a talk wireframe, or talk abstract that provides vivid details and what the client should expect. The talk abstract should also be fully stylized, so it can be shared with leaders and selection committees. You can find examples of talk abstracts on the resource page of my website

A few very important thing to remember. When booking your speaker through a speakers bureau always make certain that the Bureau has expertise in booking healthcare and life science speakers. I would also recommend that you demand a stylized and detailed talk abstract, along with sample videos of any speaker you’re considering. Once you narrow down your candidates, schedule a zoom pre-booking discovery call to ask the potential speaker all of the tough questions. I work with all of the reputable speaker bureaus in the world, and I strongly recommend using a speaker Bureau as there is no financial benefit typically in booking the speaker directly. Remember the speaking industry, is extremely competitive and there are many speakers that, as they say in Texas suffer from “big hat no cattle” syndrome. In other words they position themselves as experts but they simply do not have the pedigree. Your audience is looking for a “Sherpa” not a “Googler” in other words they’re looking for someone who lives in the real world of healthcare, not in the periphery as a researcher. As a Healthcare Inventor with over 40 patents, and a Number One Bestselling Healthcare Author and past Chief Innovation Officer for top medical school and an Advisor to some of the top organizations in healthcare, my talks are based on the current reality of healthcare. I believe the audience appreciates my “in the trenches” perspective, and they also respect my pedigree. This is extremely important when selecting your speaker. One last thing a successful talk requires that your speaker delivers actionable novelty. In other words new information that they’re not hearing elsewhere in the echo chamber, that is New, Relevant and Actionable within their job function and enterprise.

If I can provide more insights feel free to reach out to me through my website

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