As I’ve been contemplating and preparing upcoming conference keynote speeches for this fall, I’ve been thinking a good bit about what participants expect and hope to get from a keynote speech.    I decided to Tweet out this question today:

Here are the responses I’ve received via Twitter so far:

  • “I like keynotes that are simple and clear, that build on my own experiences but have a twist or new angle.  I like a keynote to challenge but not overwhelm me. Tie-ins to the “theme” are optional.”
  • “Quite honestly it depends on the speaker for me. If they’re inspirational then it doesn’t matter – if they aren’t, it does.”
  • “I expect it to tie into the conference theme, yeah. I’d like it to get me excited & energized for the rest of the conference.”
  • “I hate rah-rah keynotes, I want the challenge – make me think and argue back, ya know?”
  • “Depends on the theme and the keynote’s approach to the theme, generally looking for great insight regardless of theme!”
  • “Yes++ keynote speech should tie to conf. theme. Should set the context for all conversations and the rest of the conference.”
  • “Relate to the conference theme”
  • “It’s far more important to me that a keynote (or session) be engaging and thought-provoking rather than “on theme.””
  • “I just want to be inspired, challenged to think, and energized to begin a conference – not worried so much about the theme.”
  • “Discussed this very topic today at Alabama Sch Lib Assoc Board meeting. Must be motivational above all things!”

For me personally–I’m more interested in hearing a keynote that is provocative, inspiring, or thought-provoking in some way—something that makes me really think or ignites an idea storm for me—than the keynote tying into a theme.  However, as you can see, we all come to the conference experience with diverse expectations.    Some of the greatest keynotes I’ve heard were totally unrelated to the conference theme, but the idea of a keynote setting a “context” for the conference is one to consider, I think.

So what are your thoughts?  I invite you to participate in my poll and to please share your thoughts in this space below to inform and add to the conversation!