Why I Value Keynote Speakers

I invest a lot to bring in awesome keynote speakers to our debate camps. A couple of my coaches have questioned the wisdom in this. Compared to the awesome coaching I bring in to train the students to succeed in competition, I can see how keynotes can be perceived a waste of resources. But I have bigger reasons for investing in the keynotes every year.

Comedia Ken Davis was keynote in 2011.

Comedian Ken Davis was keynote in 2011.

And for a niche organization like Training Minds, I haven’t done too bad! I’ve been running camps since 2001, intentionally seeking out a keynote speaker for the past five. I was reminded of the great additions yesterday when I updated our keynote speakers page:

  • 2012: Dr. Jeff Myers and Dr. Chris Leland
  • 2011: Ken Davis
  • 2010: Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg
  • 2009: Mike Winther
  • 2008: Eric Ludy

This year best-selling author Michael Hyatt is set up for Point Loma Camp in Summer 2013. I can’t wait to have him join us in San Diego for our 12th annual camp. He’s speaking on platform building and life plans, two great topics for the young speakers and debaters. See more about the camp here.

Bringing Michael Hyatt into my program—and all the keynotes above—has some obvious benefits to the work I do. For one, they make me look great. Yeah, well, whatever. That’s beside the point. There are deeper reasons—three specifically—for expending the resources and time soliciting such big names.

1. They’ve Walked the Walk

It’s no mistake that these guys are big shots. They have sacrificed, been through the thick and thin, succeeded at much of what they’ve been called to do in life. They deserve the platform they’ve built.

Take Ken Davis, for example. He’s an hilarious comedian, one of the funniest men I know. When he spoke to the kids in 2011, he shared a very personal story of when he was forced to be on the speech and debate team in high school. He thought it was uncool. “There’s no way I’m going to walk around with a pair of lips on my letter jacket!” he joked.

That totally resonated with the kids. He had them in stitches, sure, but he personalized the message in a beautiful way. Why? Because Ken Davis was a living example of what development of speaking skills could lead to. Not much else compares to hearing it from someone who has walked the walk.

2. They’ve Tasted Success—but Also Failure

All of the speakers above are big in their niche markets, and all of them have some sort of hook into public speaking. What is most impressive is their incredible success in whatever platform they’re building.

Take Michael Hyatt, for example. He’s built a platform of over 300,000 email subscribers, published 8 books one being a New York Times bestseller, and ran one of the largest publishing companies in the world, Thomas Nelson. Not too shabby! He has definitely built the credibility to speak on platform building and building a life plan.

I recently attended a conference with Michael Hyatt, and in one of the speeches he reminded the attendees that not everything sticks. “I’ve failed much more than I’ve succeeded,” he told us. His personal testimonies—the good and the bad—lifted the spirits of the audience of platform builders. “The best time to start is today,” he encouraged us. It was awesome, and it will be just as awesome speaking to the kids in July.

3. They’ve Built Platforms—but Not Mine

Not many of the speakers above would actually say that teenagers are their core audience. Some are loosely related, targeted toward young adults at best. Still, without fail, all of them value and enjoy speaking into the lives of teenagers.

At the conference I mentioned above, Michael asked me to speak a few words about our relationship. He didn’t know what I was going to say, and I feared I would embarrass him a little. You see, I really had to try hard to persuade him to come and keynote for the kids this summer. He’s one of the most sought-after public speakers today with a very limited speaking calendar, so I turned up my negotiation skills as high as I could to convince him to come to my small speech and debate camp in July.

Michael was sitting in the audience when I explained to the 120+ attendees about my attempt to persuade him. He shouted out, “It worked!” I continued with this subtle observation:

I get it: the Training Minds audience isn’t Michael Hyatt’s. It’s not like he doesn’t care about teenagers; it’s just not who Michael is aiming for. He aims for adults and business professionals.

But do you know who Michael cares about? He cares about me, Chris Jeub…and I care about these teenagers. And Michael cares about platform builders, that’s what he does, and he’s out to do all he can do to help platform builders like me build their platforms.

The same can be said for all our keynote speakers. They have become dear friends over the years. Though they may not be zeroed into my specific niche, they know that I care deeply for these young people. That’s good enough for them, and the kids love having such public speaking giants come and speak into their lives.

Michael Hyatt won’t teach my kids how to beat their opponents in competition—at least not nearly as well as my champion staff of speech and debate coaches. But he will give these kids greater purpose in why they “train the mind for action,” just as the previous keynote speakers have. The words of the keynote speaker carries an impact that will inspire and motivate the young people to excellence.

Want to know more about the Point Loma Speech & Debate Camp? Check out the registration page here.