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Sales Kickoff Success 2023- Choosing the Right Keynote Speaker

Ahhh, the glory days of a sales kickoff (SKO) where hundreds or even thousands meet for an energizing five days in places like Las Vegas, Singapore, or Budapest. Those venues are on pause for now; however, your SKO can still deliver energy and success virtually with the right formula of inspiring keynote speakers, results-driven soft-skills training, and actionable breakout sessions. This three-part series will explore how your sales enablement leadership can seek out and ensure the delivery of premier sessions for your SKO, starting with finding the best keynote speaker for your business. 

Keynote Speaker

The Leaders, the Famous, the Pundits, and the Experts

The classic formula for every major SKO is to start each day with a keynote. Day 1 begins with your executive leadership presenting vision and results, followed by additional internal leaders providing area updates. Days 2-4 often start with a blend of keynotes from the Famous (e.g., world leaders, celebrities), the Pundits (e.g., analysts, industry leaders), or the Experts (e.g., sales skills, demo skills).   

Choosing Your Keynotes 

If your CEO wants to deliver a keynote, she will. That one is easy! Beyond your CEO, the simple answer is to choose speakers who believe their keynote will contribute to your executive team achieving their upcoming fiscal year strategic initiatives. The topics and core message for each keynote must align with those initiatives. Now let’s move on to the more finite yet essential aspects of ensuring successful keynotes.  

Virtual Presence

A keynote speaker without a commanding and engaging presence is like a piece of plain, dry toast compared to a buttered, chocolate croissant.  For your 2022 SKO, examine a virtual trailer of a Famous, Pundit or Expert speaker for their virtual presence

  • Do they deliver excellent sound quality? 
  • Is their background and lighting professional?
  • Do they drive audience engagement with chats, polls, and screen annotations?
  • Are their visuals captivating? 
  • Do they own their virtual space? 

If the message is excellent, but the delivery is poor, the message is lost. Don’t allow good messages to be forgotten with poor delivery. Move on to someone else.  The same holds true for your internal executives. If your executives (including your CEO) need help with their virtual presence, seek experts like our firm to coach them to excellence. Okay, I know that was a shameful plug but, if they need help, get it!  

Actionable Motivation  

Your A.M. keynotes need to deliver A.M. (Actionable Motivation). Inspiring SKO social posts are great but if next Monday morning behaviors or actions don’t change, you’ll need to accept that your investment in that keynote was for pure entertainment. For all keynotes, ask the speaker what is actionable from their presentation and decide if those takeaways:

  1.  Align with your executive’s strategic initiatives
  2.  If your people can execute on the speaker’s call to action.   


Obvious? Of course, any keynote speaker you choose will be vetted for personal credibility! I’m referring to the credibility of their message. Is it Realistic, Relatable, and Practical? If your speakers don’t deliver on RRP, your SKO audience will quickly dismiss their entire session.   

Immediate Action 

The Pundit and Expert keynote speakers must deliver calls to action that can immediately be acted upon the Monday following the SKO. The shelf life of the key messages from these styles of speakers is incredibly short. Combat the vaporization of these valuable messages by ensuring that they can be immediately implemented. Test the practicality of their suggestions with your sales organization’s subject matter experts. 

Touch the careers of everyone attending 

As a bonus, any speaker who can deliver a message that can influence the career path of their audience members will be forever remembered. At 2Win, we are often humbled by presales and sales professionals who expressed that inspiring sentiment. If you can hire a keynote speaker capable of delivering a similar approach, your SKO will be remembered for years to come. If you’d like to know more about 2Win’s keynote services click here.


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