To employees, listening to their boss is a bit like listening to a parent. Oft-repeated statements go in one ear and out of the other, allowing ingrained habits to prevail over desired behavior changes. Sometimes, the best way to get employees to listen is to have someone else present the same information. Many employees begin to rethink change after hearing from a knowledgeable, motivated keynote speaker.
Hiring keynote speakers gives established teams what Dr. Nick Morgan calls “temporary tribal leaders.” Keynote speakers can take an audience on an emotional and intellectual journey that persuades them to adopt new points of view. People don’t change because they’re presented with information; they change because they see change working for other people. Letting them hear how change has worked from someone besides you can motivate them to break with old habits for good.
How Keynote Speakers Say It Better Than You Can
Different employees are persuaded in different ways. Some make their minds up based on tested, proven facts while others make decisions because they feel inspired by rhetoric.
A boss who isn’t a trained speaker usually does one or the other well, but a professional speaker has the skill to persuade both kinds of people. A good keynote speech mixes observable facts with anecdotes and personal testimony, delivering hard-hitting facts in a way that has emotional impact.
In some cases, a keynote speaker who not only knows where you want your organization to go but also has traveled the path himself or herself has insights beyond what you can offer. You might know, for example, that you want your employees to be more innovative.
However, a speaker who has actually navigated similar changes could help your employees to anticipate what change feels like, how it will affect them, what constitutes a realistic timetable and what practices will help them succeed. In other words, when you hire a keynote speaker for meetings or events, the experienced speaker says it better than you can, and he says it in the way your employees need to hear it. He (or she) takes over as their temporary tribal leader.
What Keynote Speakers Can Do — And Also What They Can’t
A keynote speaker can inspire your employees to think differently, to be more daring and to take more risks. A keynote speaker, in the words of Katrina Smith, does not change the world; instead, the speaker shows employees that their world needs to change. Nick Morgan reiterates, “Speakers are uniquely positioned to get audiences to do something — thanks to the temporary authority they are granted by the occasion.”
A great speaker will explain why change needs to happen, give an outline of how to make changes and ask for a commitment from the audience. However, speakers can’t create detailed plans of action, so you’ll need to extrapolate from the speech, combine it with what you already know and have a follow-up strategy ready to go.
Also, if you’ve hired your speaker to address a long-term, entrenched problem within your company, the speech isn’t going to cure all of your company’s ills. It’s important to think of the speech as one highly effective element of a multi-pronged change management strategy.
After the Speech
You may struggle to keep your employees motivated after your keynote speaker has gone. Here are a few suggestions from entrepreneur and motivational speaker Neil Patel:
Mix constructive criticism and encouragement. Patel says that he offers criticism of his employees Monday through Thursday, but he praises good work on Friday when most of them are trying to meet deadlines. He also encourages them by learning what motivates them and helping them to meet their goals.
Change things up. The simple act of having a walking meeting instead of meeting in a conference room can jostle creativity and stimulate new thoughts.
Tell them what you want them to do. Spell out your goals and tell them what success will look like. Combine monetary incentives, like bonuses, with intrinsically satisfying incentives, like offering them challenges and learning opportunities.
Even the best boss, like the best parents, can’t always get through to their employees. Hiring a keynote speaker can provide the spark that will move your business forward.
Dr. Joseph Westphal keynote image by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from Flickr Creative Commons.
Keynote speech image by Centre for Distance Education from Flickr Creative Commons.