There are many types of speechwriters, but just about everyone has been asked to write a keynote address.
It can be a real challenge: Success or failure depends on how well a keynote resonates with its audience. At political or trade association conventions, annual meetings of like-minded professionals, people united by a cause, or gatherings of shareholders, listeners want to hear powerful words from the podium that set the event’s tone, articulate its key messages, and inspire people to action.
That’s why good writers spend as much time as possible learning all they can about the audience that will hear the keynote. Today, speechwriters need to pay close attention to the fact that social media is changing every audience in two major ways. The new interactive media guarantee the speaker’s words will have a broader reach than ever before.
Moreover, growing numbers of people who hear the keynote (or parts of it) will do so via their computers, tablets or smart phones. Here are some steps you can take to ensure the keynote you write has the kind of impact you and your speaker want on a 21st -century audience.
Make your key points tweetable
When writing the speech, look for ways to express your points in “tweetable bites.” Remember, a tweet can be 140 characters, but make yours even shorter so tweeters in the secondary audience can include a Twitter ID when they retweet :@johnsmith, etc.
As always, don’t go overboard with PowerPoint or other slides, but do put some suggested tweets up for your audience to share, along with suggested links.
Broaden your audience through hashtags
When you’re writing the speech, craft keyword hashtags from the keynote. It’s easy: # + keyword = hashtag. You can put the hashtags in promotional materials and share via social media before the speech, and list some hashtags on your slides to generate buzz before and during the event, and to expand the discussion.
Video now …
Look for relevant snippets of video you can insert in the presentation; these can provide a break for the speaker and audience, and can easily add humor or a little pizzazz to any speech.
During and after the speech, you can tweet out the video and add it to the speaker’s or organization’s blogs.
… And video later
Record bits and pieces of the keynote presentation, then share them later via social media, podcasts, and webinars.
Repackage the speech to drive traffic to your website
Put a video clip from the keynote on your organization’s home page, along with a link to the entire speech. Web statistics show that putting video on a home page makes the page 53 percent more likely to show up on Page 1 in a Googe search.
Above all, remember: It’s not your father’s keynote any more. Writing a major speech still requires great prose, engaging stories, and a powerful vision, but if you want to connect with your audience as effectively as possible, integrate social media into your process, too.
Jeff Porro is a Washington, DC speechwriter. His new book, “Words that Mean Success,” provides practical advice on how leaders can use the spoken word to engage the audiences most important to their success-including funders, clients, investors, employees, the press, and public. (It’s available as an e-book on Amazon and on iTunes.)
Karen Bate, CEO of KB Concepts, has more than 20 years professional experience in corporate and nonprofit public relations and marketing as a team leader, strategic planner, public awareness/brand campaign designer, media and social media consultant, editor/writer, special events manager, and photographer.