9 Standout Keynote Speakers to Watch

keynote speakers

Post authored by Donna Kastner, Founder of Retirepreneur

Booking keynote speakers is a high-impact event decision that’s loaded with risk.

Hire a superstar and attendees will be raving for months to come. Hire a dud and some may never come back.

Over the past few months, I’ve been conducting my own informal best-keynoter poll, reaching out to dozens of fellow event organizers to get their nominations.

Here are nine (in no particular order) that come highly recommended by your peers, with a few quick details for inquiring minds who’d like to know more.

9 Keynote Speakers You Want at Your Event

keynote speakersLisa Bodell

Lisa is the CEO at FutureThink, a consulting group that makes innovation simpler and more successful, by eliminating unnecessary work and giving teams simple ways to solve problems.

She is also the best-selling author of Why Simple Wins and Kill the Company

Her clients include Pfizer, SXSW, DirectTV, Novartis, Google, and TED.

Lisa Bodell Speaker Reel


keynote speakersKjell Nordström

A Swedish economist, writer and speaker, Kjell provides a unique and entertaining look at global trends and their impact on us, personally and professionally.

His research focus is on corporate strategy, multinational corporations & globalization.

Co-author of Funky Business and Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind, his latest, Urban Express, explores a silent revolution, spearheaded by cities and women.

A glimpse of Kjell in action.


keynote speakerJohn O’Leary

At age 9, John was severely burned on 100% of his body, yet from this tragedy, John received abundant gifts. Expected to die, John now teaches others how to truly live.

Through emotional storytelling and great humor, John reveals a brighter vision for what’s possible in life and business.

He is the author of On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life

A glimpse of John O’Leary in action.


keynote speakersKelly McDonald

Considered a top expert in consumer trends, generational differences, and leveraging the customer experience, Kelly is the author of several books, including How to Work with & Lead People Not Like You and How to Market to People Not Like You.

Her clients include Toyota, State Farm, Nike, Harley-Davidson, Miller-Coors, and Sherwin-Williams.

A glimpse of Kelly McDonald in action


keynote speakersSeth Godin

Marketing maestro Seth Godin is an author, entrepreneur, and most of all a teacher, who blogs daily.

He’s the author of 18 bestselling books, including his latest, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.

Here’s a classic post from Seth with tips for event professionals who hire speakers – The Secret of the Five Top

A glimpse of Seth Godin in action


keynote speakersMichelle Tillis Lederman

Michelle is a people expert who inspires organizations and individuals to build real relationships to get real results.

She’s authored several books, including The 11 Laws of Likability and The Connection Advantage: 7 Mindsets to Grow Your Influence and Impact.

Her clients include Citi, Morgan Stanley, Johnson & Johnson, Sony, AIG, and MetLife.

A glimpse of Michelle Tillis Lederman in action


keynote speakers Josh Linkner

Josh is the go-to-expert on innovation for many of today’s top brands.

Twice named the EY Entrepreneur of the Year, he’s also a recipient of the President Barack Obama Champion of Change award.

Josh is the author of several bestselling books, including Hacking Innovation: The New Growth Model from the Sinister World of Hackers.

A glimpse of Josh Linkner in action.


keynote spakersDan Pink

Author of several bestselling books about business, work, and behavior, including his latest, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Dan’s TED Talk on the science of motivation is one of the 10 most-watched TED Talks of all time, with more than 20 million views.

Dan has appeared on NPR, PBS, ABC, CNN – he’s also contributing editor at Fast Company and Wired.

A glimpse of Dan Pink in action.


keynote speakersJudi Holler

Judi believes in “standing out in a sit-down world” – her keynotes are inspired in a big way by her past experience in Improv Theatre.

Author of Fear is My HomeBoy: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up, and Succeed on Your Own Terms

Clients include Marriott, Reynolds, Four Seasons, Ford, American Dental Association, and MGM Resorts.

Fun Fact: Judi is also married to Scott Durkin, VP Partner Development at Experient – definitely a dynamic duo!

A glimpse of Judi Holler in Action.


Who are some of your favorite keynote speakers? Tell us how they left a lasting impression on you in the comments section.


About Donna

Donna Kastner has spent good portion of her career as an event experience design consultant and is now building a dynamic collaboration community for executives age 50+ who are striving to make a smooth segue from full-time job to part-time consulting gig.

As the founder of Retirepreneur, Donna’s championing a movement to help others design flexible and fulfilling encore career opportunities.

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