News & Press
February 7, 2022
The Entertaining Roots of the Term “Keynote” Speaker
Hiring the right keynote speaker can make all the difference when you are planning a conference. You might be interested in finding a motivational speaker for your Las Vegas event. Maybe you think your corporate gathering would respond well to a celebrity entertainer or, perhaps, an industry expert who can get your crowd excited about the newest advances in your field would be the best choice.
If you are a professional event planner with experience working with a corporate speakers bureau to line up the right talent for your events, you already know how an engaging keynote speaker can energize a crowd.
But have you ever stopped to wonder why we call the speakers who headline corporate events in Las Vegas “keynote” speakers?
Origins of the Term “Keynote Speaker”
Have you ever used a musical metaphor to describe what you need to create a successful event?
Maybe you told your team that you want all the various aspects of your Las Vegas event to come together in harmony. Perhaps part of the secret to your success is creating high notes that will generate lasting memories in your attendees’ minds.
You might have even used a musical metaphor without realizing it. For example, if you’ve ever talked about the importance of finding a keynote speaker who can set the tone for your whole event.
The Online Etymology Dictionary says this of the noun keynote:
The keynote is the given note on which the melodic and harmonic relationships in the scale are built, and it gives its name to the key. Figurative sense of "leading idea, central principle" is from 1783; keynote speech is 1887, American English.
“Back in the late 1600s, a keynote referred to the first note – and basis of – a musical key, like C major. Today, musicians more commonly call this the tonic,” says John Kelly on MashedRadish.com, which focuses on etymology, or the study of where words come from and how their meanings change over time.
“But the concept of a keynote plays well as a metaphor,” he goes on to say. “The main idea of a speech or text acts like a keynote, sounded at the beginning, resolved to at the end, and setting the prevailing tone throughout. The Oxford Dictionary English (OED) dates this figurative usage to 1763.”
We don’t know if it really was 1783 or 1763 (but if we had to, we would probably go with the Oxford English Dictionary’s scholarship), but we can help you find a keynote speaker who will hit just the right note for your event – whether your goal is to inspire, inform or entertain.
Contact our speakers bureau, with offices in Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Atlantic City and Florida, at (702) 547-5119.