One of the best things you can do to ensure the success of your event is hiring a great speaker.

Among the types of professionals available, there are two you need to think of when organizing your event:

1. The keynote speaker and

2. The guest speaker

So what is the difference between a keynote speaker and guest speaker?

What is a keynote speaker?

The word “Key note” comes from a music background.

The key note is a note that is usually played before the performance of a song, so that musicians know what key the whole song is played in.

It’s the key that sets how the entire song will be played.

Interestingly, keynote speakers have this name because they do a similar job: they set up the main theme and tone of the event.

Because of this, it is quite natural for the keynote speech to take place at the beginning of the event, even though there may be some exceptions about that.

The role of a keynote speaker is to draw attention to a specific topic that will be covered throughout the rest of the event.

They do so by presenting this topic from a brand-new perspective, using humor or sharing a compelling story that ties into the main theme of the event.

See also: What is a keynote speaker?

What is a guest speaker?

Even though a guest speaker can also be a keynote speaker, they’re not necessarily the same thing.

A Guest Speaker is usually someone who doesn’t have any connection with the event, but who is invited to speak in order to share a specific point with the audience.

These presenters tend to follow-up from the keynote speech.

While the keynote speakers introduce the main topic and set the tone, the guest speaker will get into more detail during the subsequent talks and expand on specific points.

In other words, the keynote speaker is the headliner (or star) of your event while the guest speaker is a supporting cast member.

Choosing the right speaker

For your keynote speech, it’s important for the individual to be someone creative and engaging – someone who is able to think of a clever, amusing and memorable way to introduce the main theme of the event.

Please note that the keynote speaker doesn’t need to go deep into technical information or details.

On the other hand, when it comes to having a guest speaker, there are some other possibilities.

For example, you could choose a guest speaker who is very knowledgeable on your industry.

This individual can give a more technical talk, actually teaching the ins and outs of the field.

Another possibility could be a guest speaker who has nothing to do with your industry, but whose experience could add value to your audience somehow.

Your attendees could really benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a professional from another field.

Regardless of whether you’re choosing a keynote or a guest Speaker, here are some of the things to look for when hiring one:

  • Professionalism: The speaker should turn up in time and ready to give their presentation and present themselves with integrity and respect;
  • Research skills: Whether giving a keynote speech or a technical workshop, he or she should be able to do proper research on your industry, your audience, and the overall information that it will be given during your event;
  • Rapport: The speaker should be able to connect with your audience. Some might prefer to tell stories while others might prefer to use timely humor;
  • Credibility: Whomever you decide to put on stage should be someone that is seen as an authority and expert on the subject-matter being covered;
  • Storyteller: He or she should be able to draw upon real world experience and tell a captivating story that keeps your audiences attention and leaves them feeling inspired or educated;
  • Articulate: In today’s day and age where people have short attention spans, it is imperative that you find a speaker who can articulate key points in a seamless manner;
  • Unique perspective: The person you work with should be someone has a unique point of view and can offer your audience a different way of looking at the topic they are covering.

To summarize…

A keynote speaker sets the tone and supports your overall theme for the event. They are generally considered the headliner or main attraction.

A guest speaker can be anyone not part of your organization that talks about anything that supports your events objectives.

The presenters of your event will be the determining factor of whether the event will be successful or not.

Make sure you do your due diligence carefully and do your own research about them.

Take the time to sit down with them in advance in order to lay out the outcome you wish to achieve by the end of your event.