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The Difference Between Keynote & Plenary Speakers

Posted by WWSG Staff on Jan 18, 2018 3:49:52 PM

Plenary Speaker or Keynote Speaker?

Meetings are as diverse in their purpose and structure as the speakers who are on the platform at these meetings. They can be international, national, or regional. They can be internal meetings, external meetings, sales meetings, client conferences, annual conferences or leadership retreats.

Once you have determined the purpose, theme, and structure of your meeting, then comes selecting and hiring the perfect speakers for your event.

Find a Speaker That's Right For You

There are two types of speakers you may want to hire and retain for your event: keynote speakers and plenary speakers. Both add value to your meeting, but for different reasons. Read on to learn about the difference between these two types of speakers.

What is a Keynote Speaker?

A keynote speaker’s main purpose is to reiterate and drive home the meeting’s main idea or theme. In public speaking, the word keynote refers to the principal and underlying theme of a larger idea, hence why a keynote speaker's address usually relates to the reason or purpose behind a meeting.

A keynote speaker and their speech are often selected to raise interest in an event, such as a conference or large meeting sponsored by a corporation or association, and draw attendees to the program. Selecting a keynote speaker who is well known for his or her expertise in a field or who has wide name recognition due to other accomplishments will raise enthusiasm among prospective attendees for a meeting or conference. This speaker should be able to capture the essence of your meeting and be able to highlight it to your audience in a short period of time.

The keynote address may entail an opening keynote and closing keynote speaker. An opening keynote speaker is brought in to set the underlying tone and summarize the core message or most important revelation of the event. A closing keynote speaker will be engaged to end a conference on a high note and leave audiences with a sense of optimism. If an event is held over a longer period, it is not unusual to have a different keynote speaker for each day of the event.

What is a Plenary Speaker? 

A plenary speaker is a speaker who is often from within an organization of the same industry or a related industry, as opposed to a professional speaker or independent expert on a subject who is brought in to be a marquee keynote speaker.

A plenary session is a session of a conference in which all members of all parties attend. Such a session may include a broad range of content from keynotes to panel discussions and is not necessarily related to a specific style or deliberative process.

Many meetings also have mini plenary sessions. These are often concurrent sessions that focus on issues important to an industry sector or a particular aspect of a practice applicable to all industries. Mini-plenary sessions are usually open to all registrants.

In many industries, the term keynote and plenary speaker are used interchangeably.

How WWSG Can Help with Keynote & Plenary Speakers

Thanks to the number of speakers WWSG represents, our team can help you work with both keynote speakers and plenary speakers. Our team has experience helping with motivational speakers, health care speakers, political speakers, economy speakers, business speakers, educational speakers, and much more. Find the right speaker for your event today.

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At WWSG, we create comprehensive solutions for events, conferences, meetings, and more. Our ability to assist clients with speaker selection and management compliments our team's unprecedented and unparalleled level of service in the global lecture industry. By providing a very intimate and consultative support service to organizations for booking speakers and their events, WWSG is truly dedicated to client success.

Topics: speaker bureau, event planner tips

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