Are You a Keynote Speaker, Presenter, or Trainer?

By Darren LaCroix | Stage Time Articles

Which are you? Many pros out there are D, All of the Above. Some people start their career as one and then become the other. I know many great keynote speakers who started off as trainers for a public seminar company. I started as a mediocre keynote speaker and now would consider myself more of a trainer. How about you?

It depends. It depends on the day. What’s the difference between the two? Is there really a difference? If so, what is it? Yes, there is a big difference. If I had to define it in one word, it would be intention.

When you are in front of an audience, there is a reason for your being there. What is that reason? Get clear. Each audience and each position have a different intended outcome upon which your success is based.

When You Are a Keynote Speaker

Some people think the word keynote means you have a general session in front of the entire audience at a convention. Compare that to a breakout session at a conference where you have a smaller room and only a portion of the attendees. When comparing keynoting to training, Patricia Fripp says brilliantly, “A keynote speech tends to be more entertaining and has a higher level of abstraction.” To clarify even more, a keynote is not down in the nitty-gritty specifics; that is training. A keynote is intended to have a CEO-level viewpoint on the subject of the conference.

The very word itself helps us understand the intention of this position. If you break it down, the responsibility of a keynote speaker is to set the key note of a conference; to set the tone for the entire event. Just because someone has the main stage at a convention does not necessarily mean they are the keynote speaker.

The keynote speaker is usually the celebrity of the event. They are the draw to help the event planner get butts in seats. When done properly, a keynote speech will inspire, entertain, and leave the audience with a new perspective. The duration of a keynote speech can be anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

When You Are a Presenter

The intention of a presenter is typically to educate or inform. When done properly, the audience should leave with new information related to your subject. The intention can still vary greatly.

Whether it is a workshop or a corporate presentation, the presenter usually does not have the pressure or expectations of a keynote speaker. Whew. There is no expectation of being entertaining. Incorporating humor in a presentation is welcome, though, and differs greatly from the norm. The goal of a great presentation is not a standing ovation. It is to transfer information.

This position could be well suited for a breakout session at a conference or a much-needed group communication at a corporation or organization. The duration of a presentation can be anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes.

When You Are a Trainer

I love the definition that World Champion and master trainer Ed Tate gives for clarification. He says that the purpose of training is to change behavior. In order to change behavior, the audience needs a process, specifics, and details. Many times the audience also needs an experience to help aid the behavioral change. For example, if you were training someone to drive a car, wouldn’t it make sense that part of the training would actually include driving?

The other crucial part of training is what Tate calls The Debrief. That is when participants, after engaging in an experience, discuss what happened with the trainer that was either good or bad. This is where many of the essential adjustments occur to accelerate the behavior change.

Training typically will last from one hour to several days. The length of the training varies greatly based on the breadth and depth of what needs to be covered. Skill sets of trainers also vary greatly. They must not only know the subject, but they must also be able to keep an audience engaged for long periods of time. One of their most necessary skills is to be aware of and change the energy in the room as needed.

When Ed Tate and I run our “Train the Trainer” workshop, it is a two-day event. We also choose to have two lead trainers at all of our Master Workshops. We believe that is more valuable for participants because we can keep the audience engaged and also offer two different perspectives and styles.

There are unlimited ways to serve the world from the stage. Many people dream of being a highly paid keynote speaker. What many do not know is that many more training positions are available in the world than are keynote speaker slots.

No matter what you are or what you want to do, strive to be the best. Click To Tweet The true measure of your success depends on your skills and the intention of the position in which you were placed. Did you set the key note? Did you educate or inform? Did you set the stage for a change of behavior?

Not every great keynote speaker is a great trainer. Not every great trainer is a great keynote speaker. The skills required to be world-class vary. You can stand out from your peers if you focus on your intention for each. One position can also be training ground for the other. My training ground was stand-up comedy. I never became a comedy headliner, but giving it my all and knowing when to change my focus set the trajectory for doing what I love to do for a living now. I also used keynote speaking as my gateway to becoming a trainer. Keynote speaking can be fun, and, when done well, you can look and feel like a hero. Part of the reason I enjoy training so much is that I can make more of a difference in two days than I can in 90 minutes. What is your intention?

Remember that every time we are in front of an audience, it is a privilege. Many of the skill sets overlap, so commit to being a perpetual student. I believe storytelling is the biggest overlapping skill.

Depending on the setting of a presentation and the reason I am giving it, I come at it with different intentions. The world does not simply need keynote speakers, presenters, and trainers. The world needs amazing keynote speakers, amazing presenters, and amazing trainers.

Are you amazing? What are you doing to become amazing? Get clear on the different intentions of the different positions. Then help change the world. Please.

Stage time,

Darren

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