This year, for the first time, our three-state regional convention (8000 attendees) will not feature a keynote speaker. For us, it made sense. In fact, we probably should have canned the keynote years ago. Have you considered the real value a keynote brings to your convention attendees?
Clearly there is more than one right answer to this question and you should look at your convention to determine if the keynote speaker brings value or not. Here are some of the considerations we discussed when we made the decision that a keynote speaker offered too little bang for the buck.
Cost and More Costs: We’ve always tried to keep the cost of attending our convention down, so our budget for keynotes is lower than many conventions. We could never think about affording a really BIG name keynote and we had to settle for mid-level keynotes. Even a mid-level keynotes will command between $15,000 and $25,000. The really big-time keynotes can run you $50,000 or more.
We simply decided that our mid-level keynote speakers were too costly compared to the value members received. Virtually no one was making the decision to “attend or not” based on who our keynote was going to be.
Program and Space Disruption: Keynotes are also disruptive to the overall convention schedule. All other programs are typically put on hold so EVERYONE can attend the keynote. Scheduling around a keynote disrupts the entire schedule and not having one allows you to pack in more valuable education classes.
Why Do They Attend? People attend our convention to fulfill their requirement for continuing education. If your attendees are attending for motivational encouragement or general inspiration, then a keynote may still be a good idea.
Personally, I love attending the keynote presentation and never would have considered canning it for our convention if someone else had not asked the question. After I thought about it, it made perfect sense for us. Does it make sense to you?