How often have you heard the terms “keynote speech” and “keynote speaker” lately? One wonders involuntarily what it is, how this form of presentation differs from others and when and for what it is best used.

The KeyNote – From music to words

The term keynote consists – easy to recognize – of the words “key” and “note” and originates from the music jargon. In music, this term refers to the note that determines the key in which a piece of music or song is played.

This note is thus the basic one of a piece of music and thus the “reference note” to which all other notes of a piece of music refer and which thus defines the “style” of a piece of music.

So, literally, the term “keynote” can be understood as “the special note”, as THE dominant, determining and introductory note in the following (music) piece.

The keynote speech in the event industry

In the event industry, the word keynote refers to the main speech of an event. In this way, this address defines the formal and/or content-related framework or starting point for the programme of an event. It is, so to speak, the special lecture among the other lectures – “primus inter pares”, so to speak.

A keynote address is usually intended as an opening speech, less often as a closing speech, and has the purpose of placing a special message and mood in the minds of the participants and thus decisively determining the atmosphere for the course of the event.

Although the content is of course important in a keynote speech, it is still less about conveying hard facts, general or new knowledge or very concrete information. This speech is characterized above all by making people think and inspire them. This special form of presentation, which is often charged with emotional content, is also characterized by enabling participants to look at facts from a different or new perspective.

Therefore, the keynote speech is also an entertaining form of presentation whose content oscillates between information and entertainment.

How is a keynote speech prepared?

Behind a keynote speech that fascinates the audience, there is a lot of work, extensive experience, but above all a precisely thought-out communication strategy.

A keynote speech is usually based on the main theme of an event. The speaker combines this topic with his expertise, his own experience and knowledge. Therefore, effective presentation techniques and rhetorical skills are of crucial importance.

What is the difference with other forms of presentation?

Although there are no fixed or defined rules and boundaries in this context, a keynote speech can be distinguished by some of the following aspects.

In comparison to classical forms of presentation, the keynote speech is often somewhat shorter and more flexible.

However, its length depends on several factors: it can move from a short inspiring presentation to a slightly longer, interactive and preparatory one; it usually lasts between 25 and 45 minutes and its main purpose is to convey thought impulses (which is why a keynote is often referred to as an “impulse presentation”).

On the other hand, a classical lecture is more about a more detailed immersion into a topic. In this case a classical lecture usually lasts over 45 and 60 minutes, sometimes even longer.


A successful keynote speech motivates and inspires the audience, prepares the audience for the event theme and also conveys new, unusual and sometimes provocative perspectives.

We would like to invite you to a personal consultation to delve deeper into the future of meeting design and find out together with you and your team which trends and storytelling strategies and keynote speakers will be relevant for you and your company in the future!

The Event-Experience-Journey: On the “Pink! Way” to the ideal experience!