World-leading keynote speaker

keynote speaker virtual physical


Ross Dawson is in high demand globally for his inspiring and insightful in-person and virtual keynote speeches for conferences, internal meetings, marketing events, and strategy sessions.

Clients include the likes of American Express, Boston Consulting Group, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young, Google, Interpublic Group, News Corp, Oracle, Procter & Gamble, PwC, Roche, Star Alliance, Toyota, Visa, and many other leading organizations.

Dawson is compelling stage speaker who has delivered keynotes and workshops in over 30 countries as well as an expert virtual keynote speaker with deep experience in engaging virtual audiences.

Clients appreciate Dawson’s highly engaging and entertaining presentation manner, combined with his strong authority and credibility based on his business track record and extensive experience working with leading organizations. Make your event a resounding success with keynote speaker Ross Dawson’s compelling and inspirational presentations.

See below for insights on how to choose and work with a professional keynote speaker.

Keynote speaking topics Keynote speaker topics
Read examples of speeches Ross has delivered as a keynote speaker and can adapt to your specific needs.
Keynote speaker videos Keynote speaker videos
Watch keynote videos of speeches that Ross has delivered as a keynote speaker; these can be adapted to your specific needs.

Read about Ross Dawson

Book Ross Dawson as a keynote speaker

See testimonials for Ross Dawson’s keynote speaking

What is a keynote speaker?

How to choose a keynote speaker

How to work with a keynote speaker

Summary testimonials

Here are some of the things Dawson’s clients have to say about his keynotes:

“Visionary, articulate and entertaining”

“Terrific feedback”

“Smack bang on brief”

“Fantastic kick-off for the conference”

“Extremely insightful”


“Very professional”

“Absolutely perfect for our event”

“An outstanding speech”

“His professionalism and experience shined through”

“Thought provoking and inspiring”

“Very entertaining”

“One of the most innovative and thought provoking keynote speeches I have heard”

“Great feedback”

“Efficient and a pleasure to work with”

“Relevant and inspiring”

See more extensive list of testimonials

What is a keynote speaker?

A keynote speaker literally providers the “key note” for the event. He or she sets the tone for the conference, and provides the fundamental note that resonates throughout the rest of the event. Other speakers then add the overtones and melodies that together make the conference a beautiful harmony.

Since the “key note” provides the foundation for the event, the keynote speaker needs to be finely attuned to the audience, the culture, the industry, and the objectives for the event. In particular, the role of the keynote speaker is to elevate and inspire the audience to think about the broader frame of the event, and what the participants can achieve in their work and lives after the event finishes.

As such the note that the keynote speaker strikes in their opening (or closing) address should resonate not just through the conference, but far beyond in how the conference participants are changed for the better.

How to choose a keynote speaker

Since the keynote speaker will set the tone for your entire event, you need to choose them carefully.
It is best to begin your search as early as possible, as good speakers are booked far in advance, and are likely to have little availability at short notice.

You might become aware of possible speakers through online searches, a speaking bureau, personal recommendations, or from their speaking, writing, or social media activities. Often the first port of call is asking those you work with closely or industry experts who they think should be considered for the role, or would love to see speak at the event.

When you have established a list of possible speakers, do some background research. Watch any videos you can find, see what client testimonials they have, and find books, articles, or speeches that show they understand your industry or situation. Be aware that not everyone who writes well is necessarily a good speaker; these are distinct skills.

When you get in touch with your short-listed speakers, ask first if they are available on the date of your event, as that will filter out a number of possible speakers, and ask for their fees. Provide details on the event and location.

Ask up to 2-3 speakers to hold the date pending your decision. However be aware that a hold only gives you ‘first right of refusal’. If a speaker subsequently gets another offer for that date, your hold means you have the option to book them first, but if you do not act, the speaker becomes open to accept other offers.

Many event organizers today ask to do a conference call with the potential keynote speakers, as it allows them to assess their relevant expertise, and the approach they propose for the keynote.

In particular, you want to assess whether the speaker is aligned with your outlook, and that their keynote speech will indeed reflect the vision and possibilities you wish to evoke with your event.

How to work with a professional keynote speaker

Once you have selected a keynote speaker, you need to make sure everything runs smoothly.

The first thing to do is arrange a briefing call with the keynote speaker. This should be done as early as possible to give the speaker ample time to prepare in the midst of what is likely to be an extremely busy schedule. The key issues may have been covered in a conference call before your decision, but if all the details haven’t been covered, you can organize a follow-up call.

The briefing will include:

  • What the event is
  • The objectives of the event
  • The history of event in previous years, including previous keynote speakers and how they were received
  • An overview of sessions and content over the entire event, to provide context
  • The organization (if it is a private event)
  • The likely attendees (number, age, gender, types of organizations, typical roles, cultural issues etc.)
  • Any issues with language (if a non-English speaking country, how well will the audience understand English, and will there be simultaneous translation)
  • The role of the keynote speech in the event, including possible themes
  • Suggested speech titles (do not dictate the speech title, allow the speaker to offer alternative suggestions to meet the brief)
  • Who will be introducing the speaker
  • Room layout

Professional speakers will have a simple agreement for you to approve, unless you have your own contract you usually use.

Ensure that logistics such as flights, accommodation, airport transfers etc. are in place well in advance of the event.

By all means ask speakers to provide draft slides before the event, to ensure that their messaging is fully aligned. However most speakers limit client feedback to one session, to keep the process efficient. Because busy professional speakers are preparing for many events, do not expect their slides too far in advance of the event, and be sure to give them adequate notice for any deadlines you have.

Ask the speaker to arrive at least one hour before the event starts, and if possible, for example if they are flying in the day before for an opening keynote, meet them when they arrive. Introduce them to the MC or whoever will be introducing them on stage. Ensure that there is a common understanding on what happens after their speech. Will there be Q&A, and if so who will field questions?

Your keynote speaker is a partner in creating the outcomes you want for your event. Communicate your expectations clearly throughout, and you can look forward to a successful conference!