The Hottest Event Keynote Speakers for 2019

Liz Mikkelsen & Mandy Espey
Liz Mikkelsen & Mandy Espey

Audience listening to a keynote speaker at an event

The right keynote speaker adds something special to your event. They take your message, repackage it and deliver it back to your people with an unmatched power and vigor.

Bringing in an outside voice creates a nonreplicable spark and authority. Not only can they help you get your message across but they can help boost motivation, change their way of thinking and leave your people feeling energized and inspired.

But how do we know clients want? Years of experience and leveraging industry relationships. ITA Group is constantly searching and evaluating content to bring our clients the very best. Our partner Orin Woinsky at SME Entertainment Group, shared his expertise specifically on what themes are trending for keynote speakers in 2019, which include storytelling, leaders in innovation, futurism, celebrities, value-driven speakers and diversity.

Below is a list of thought-provoking, motivational event speaker suggestions from ITA Group that reflect these trends and are guaranteed to get your team going at your next event.

Storytelling

We make sense of the world by turning what happens into stories. Stories help us manage the chaos and turn it into something we can understand and follow. Keynote speakers who tap into stories of personal growth and transformation—whether a narrative of triumph over a giant, a rags-­to-­riches tale or a voyage to an unknown place—have a universal quality that resonates with audiences across generations, genders and cultures.

For captivating storytellers, ITA Group event experts recommend:

Scott Harrison
Scott Harrison is the founder and CEO of charity: water, and the author of NY Times Bestselling book Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World. Through radical transparency and innovative digital practices to reinvent charity, charity: water has the help of more than one million supporters from 105 countries, raised over $320 million, and funded nearly 30,000 clean water projects in 28 countries for over 8.4 million people around the world.

David Goggins
David Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL and is the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training (including two Hell Weeks), the U.S. Army Ranger School (where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man) and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. He has spent the past two decades exploring the outer limits of human performance, both as an elite Special Operations member and an accomplished ultra-endurance athlete. David has completed more than 50 endurance races, including multiple ultra-marathons, ultra-triathlons, bike races and arduous mountain ascents. David's incredible story will motivate and inspire anybody striving to become their best self.

Robert O’Neill
Rob O’Neill is one of the most highly-decorated combat veterans of our time and the author of the memoir The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior. A former SEAL Team Six leader with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, he deployed more than a dozen times and held combat leadership roles in more than 400 combat missions in four different theaters of war. From preparation, risk assessment and stress management, Rob translates his elite SEAL team training into high-impact, actionable insights on leadership, decision-making, operating in uncertain environments, and how to become the “best of the best”—and above all never quitting.

Leaders in Innovation

Sitting technology CEO’s of both well-established or up and coming companies are favorites for business meetings and events. Clients across all industries are consistently looking for ways to innovate, improve internally and rise above the competition. While securing a sitting CEO as a speaker can be very difficult, former CEO’s and others who have led organizations are great options since they have also had the time to reflect on their experience and lessons learned to share actionable takeaways with attendees.  

For C-suite speakers that inform and inspire, ITA Group event experts recommend:

Steve Wozniak
Best known as the co-founder of Apple Computer, Steve Wozniak has remained at the forefront of innovation for over 40 years. His achievements have earned him honors including an induction to the National Inventors Hall of Fame as well as the National Medal of Technology, the highest honor bestowed on America’s leading innovators. Drawing from his lessons at Apple, Wozniak delivers an unforgettable and always customized presentation full of expert insight on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and fostering STEM education.

Nicholas Webb
Nicholas Webb is a world-renowned Enterprise Strategist, Bestselling Author and Futurist. He has been awarded over 45 Patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office for a wide range of cutting-edge technologies. As an Inventor, Nicholas invented one of the first wearable technologies nearly twenty years ago, and one of the world's smallest medical implants. As one of the world’s top corporate strategists he works with some of the biggest brands in the world to help them adapt to the meteoric rate of change within their industries. Nicholas is the author of The Innovation Playbook, The Digital Innovation Playbook and his #1 Best-Selling Book on customer experience entitled, What Customers Crave.

Lisa Bodell
Founder and CEO of futurethink, Lisa Bodell is the bestselling author of Kill the Company, and her latest Why Simple Wins. She is a recognized global leader on innovation foresight and change management. Lisa is often called upon by global companies to help them eradicate workplace complexity that is killing their ability to innovate and adapt. Simplicity is fast becoming the competitive advantage of our time, and Lisa leave audiences inspired with a vision and armed with tools to motivate organizations and individuals to action.

Futurism

Clients want speakers who can discuss the future of their industry, coming trends and transitions, as well as obstacles to keep an eye on. Event planners are seeking speakers who can help answer questions like, “What is the future of our industry? How will current and future trends in our industry affect us, our employees, our customers and our partners? What should we be doing today to plan for—and excel in—this future world? What skills should we build now to prepare for the changes to come?”

For fantastic forward thinkers, ITA Group event experts recommend:

Sheryl Connelly
Sheryl Connelly has served as the in-house futurist for Ford Motor Company for over a decade. In this role, she identifies and analyzes global consumer trends to aide in the discussion of long-term planning and strategy across the entire company, including design, product development, and corporate strategy and help anticipate and predict the needs and desires of consumers. Her insights into what’s next helps others understand how STEEP factors—Social, technological, economic, environmental, and political trends—will affect business in the short-and long-term.

With the unique ability to translate how consumer and lifestyle trends will affect organizations across industry sectors, Sheryl Connelly outlines how to develop a future-thinking mindset to act decisively in high-stakes business environments.

Jeremy Gutsche
Jeremy Gutsche is a New York Times Bestselling author, one of the world's top innovation keynote speakers/management consultants and the CEO of Trend Hunter. An innovation advisor to over 400 brands, billionaires and CEOs ranging from Victoria's Secret, Coca-Cola and Sony to IBM, Cisco and Hughes Aerospace, Jeremy specializes in innovation during times of chaos and enabling change when change is hard. Over the last seven years, he's been the innovation keynote speaker at hundreds of events, inspiring more than 250,000 people. Routinely sourced by the media, he has appeared in hundreds of newspaper and television interviews form CNN and the New York Times to Entertainment Tonight and MTV.

Mike Walsh
Mike is the CEO of Tomorrow, a global consultancy on designing companies for the 21st century. He advises leaders on how to thrive in the current era of disruptive technological change. Mike's bestselling books include FUTURETAINMENT and The Dictionary of Dangerous Ideas. Rather than focusing on the distant future, Mike focuses on the next five years—scanning the near horizon for disruptive technologies and consumer innovations on the verge of hitting critical mass—then translating these into usable business strategies. As a global nomad, speaker and consumer trend scout, Mike Walsh brings a truly global perspective to every event.

Celebrities

Whether a film start, TV personality, world class athlete, bestselling author or an award-winning entertainer, a celebrity motivational speaker can add a touch of class, bolster your message and inspire you attendees. Big name keynotes are on trend, specifically those that are at the forefront of their business/industry and branching out across other genres. A familiar face, let alone a celebrity with prestige in their industry, will draw guests to your event—which maximizes impact and ROI for clients—and leave attendees with something to brag about the next day.

For headline grabbing stars, ITA Group event experts recommend:

Rachel Hollis
Rachel is one of few female CEOs to found and run a successful digital media company, The Chic Site. As a bestselling author and wildly successful lifestyle influencer she has built a global social media fanbase in the millions. She's become known as "the Tony Robbins for women" because of her motivational, high energy style and her unique ability to empower and embolden a female audience. Motivational, inspirational, and always approachable, Rachel’s tell-it-like-it-is attitude is a refreshing approach that allows her to authentically connect with audiences everywhere.

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a true jack-of-all-trades. From renowned athlete to award-winning actor and New York Times bestselling author of his book The Rock Says…, Dwayne has it all down. He first gained mainstream fame as a wrestler in the WWE where he stayed for eight years, and was the first third-generation wrestler in the company's history. Two years after he joined the WWE, he won the Championship and became one of the most popular wrestlers ever, primarily for his charismatic interviews and promos. All his success overshadows the work he put in to achieve it. He struggled with financial and family problems growing up, but never lost his drive to succeed. Today, he inspires us with his advice and tips for success.

Molly Bloom
Molly Bloom is a unique voice in the vast world of entrepreneurial speakers. As a women entrepreneur, she breached an industry that was not only unfamiliar to her and completely hidden from the majority of the world, but also dominated by men. Bloom knows how to command success and build a business. Her memoir, Molly’s Game, and life story alone was exciting enough to inspire an Oscar-nominated film; but, combined with the business and life lessons she’s gained, her speaking is as insightful as it is interesting.

Diversity

Diversity and equality are vital elements of a well-functioning organization. As our world shrinks to encompass people from different walks of life, it is essential that we learn to embrace what makes us each unique. Whether you are looking for an inspirational message or highly spirited panel discussion, it is essential that your speaker proposals reflect the youth, diversity and culture of the country—and the world—at large.

For diversity experts with a unique outlook on building healthy company cultures that bridge your company’s divide, ITA Group event experts recommend:

Luvvie Ajayi
Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning author, speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism. Her debut book, I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual, was released to critical acclaim and became an instant New York Times best-seller. It’s a collection of essays that critiques our fame-obsessed, social media-centric lives, while encouraging us to do better. Luvvie has been on the cover of ESSENCE Magazine and featured by The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., NPR, Marie Claire, Chicago Sun-Times, Black Enterprise, The Root and more. As a writer, she has contributed to Vulture, EBONY and Uptown Magazine.

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is a 20 year-old Pakistani activist, student and the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Her human rights activism, specifically focused on educating women and girls, has spawned an international movement. Malala began her campaign for education at age 11 when she anonymously blogged for the BBC about life under the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Under the pen name “Gulmakai,” she wrote about the extremists’ ban on girls’ education. At age 15, she was attacked by the Taliban for speaking out. Malala recovered in the United Kingdom and continued her fight for girls. In 2013 she founded Malala Fund with her father, Ziauddin. A year later, Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her struggle against the oppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Malala’s bravery and unwavering determination to her cause has seen her honored internationally, and her incredible story is recounted in the memoir I Am Malala and is an international bestseller.

Gopi Kallayil
Gopi Kallayil is the Chief Evangelist, Brand Marketing at Google, working with Google's sales teams and customers to help them grow their brands through digital marketing. While Gopi is affiliated with one of the most recognizable entities in the world, his ability to enlighten, educate and enrich the lives of others through the spoken word is all Gopi. Combining Western and Eastern philosophies, Gopi's presentations are thoroughly engaging, bringing an awareness to today's business issues. With a fast-paced career in the high-tech industry, it's refreshing to find a speaker full of wisdom, committed to mindfulness in one's personal and professional life. Gopi is the author of The Internet to the Inner-Net: Five Ways to Reset Your Connection and Live a Conscious Life.

Value Driven Speakers

Value never goes out of style. But finding those speakers who “always deliver” AND are reasonably priced can be tricky. Many speakers are tough to secure because they are incredibly gifted, offer genuine insight and content, in addition to having reasonable fees and expenses. They’re highly sought out. In short, they are never available. Clients always return to these trusted veterans because they have proven impact with attendees.

Finding the right keynote speaker for your event isn’t as simple as picking a famous name, there is a strategy and process to making sure you get the right person to achieve the aims of your event. Want more ideas on how to up the strategy on your events to see big-picture results? Explore our ebook, 7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic.

7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic Ebook