Keynote Speaker or Motivational Speaker?

motivational speakerNo matter how aware the public is of the things they should and should not do, the things they need to focus on in order to achieve what they want in life, or the things that they need to let go in order to move on, they still need to be pushed into the direction they want to be in. They still need examples, someone to pattern their life to. They don’t want to waste any more time committing their own mistakes just to gain experience. Instead, they tend to learn from other people’s mistakes. Right there is when keynote speakers come in.

Keynote speakers are often mistaken as motivational speakers, inspirational speakers, plenary speakers, breakout speakers, industry experts, and the like. However, inasmuch as they are highly regarded as motivational, a keynote speaker is different from a motivational speaker.

Keynote speakers are public speakers that deliver keynote addresses or speeches to an audience. They set the underlying tone and briefly summarize the core content or message of the event in a way that is absolutely entertaining to the audience. They are often found in political or industrial conventions, expositions and academic conferences.


A large number, if not all, of motivational speakers have had experiences that damaged them inside and out; however, they did not let these define them and the path that their lives are going to take. Instead, they use these experiences to encourage others to live on, to fight, and to survive.

They encourage people to not give up on themselves just because they have made bad choices. They go around telling people that it is not your bad decisions that determine which curve of life you are leaning to; rather, it is your choice – choice whether to stay in the past and not grow; choice whether to take things positively or see them in a negative light; choice whether to let your mistakes define you or make them as stepping stones from which you start defining success.

Life is all about making choices.

It does not matter whether it is good or bad. What matters is what you do about them after seeing their consequences. Thus, motivational speakers often use emotions and personal experiences to relate to their audience and instill in them the core message that they are trying to deliver.

However, keynote speakers do not usually employ these tactics. They are often the last speaker of the day, and the ones the audiences are very eager to listen to. They tailor their speeches according to the theme of the event and do not use emotions to achieve their main goal – to impart the core message to their listening audience. What they present are facts that are highly statistical in nature.

Since they are industry experts, more often than not, their delivery is highly statistical but not boring. They tend to insert humor into their speeches, while slowly molding the minds of their listeners. A keynote speaker exudes confidence and exceptional knowledge about his chosen field. This is why in corporate meetings, expositions or conferences, the keynote speaker hired is usually someone who has extensive knowledge about the industry that the corporation is working in.

This is to provide real-life scenarios and experiences that can make the audience realize that what is out there is not a playground but a battlefield; that in order to achieve the company’s goals, everyone’s cooperation is needed; that failures are not just failures but building blocks to success.

Not all keynote speakers are motivational speakers and vice versa. However, a person can be both.