The Hottest Event Keynote Speakers

By: Mandy Espey
back of a man speaking to an audience

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, Angela Cox-Weston, with Midwest Speakers Bureau, Inc., shared her expertise on what keynote speakers are trending this year.

Below is a list of thought-provoking, motivational event speaker suggestions that are guaranteed to get your team motivated at your next event and beyond.

Leave Feeling: Inspired 

Inspirational speakers draw out emotions in your audience and leave them feeling like they are capable of accomplishing anything. They energize listeners with stories that inspire peak performance, move your audience to action, and create a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.

Kindra Hall

Kindra Hall is President and Chief Storytelling Officer at Steller Collective, a consulting firm focused on the strategic application of storytelling to today’s communication challenges. Kindra is one of the most sought after keynote speakers trusted by global brands to deliver presentations and trainings that inspire teams and individuals to better communicate the value of their company, their products and their individuality through strategic storytelling.

Don Miller

Donald Miller is the CEO of StoryBrand and every year helps more than 3,000 business leaders clarify their brand message. Combined, Don’s books have spent more than a year on the New York Times Bestsellers list. His books include: Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and Scary Close. He co-wrote the major motion picture “Blue Like Jazz,” which debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and was listed as one of the top four movies to get you through freshman year by USA Today. He has served on The Presidential Task Force for Fatherhood and Healthy Families, a joint effort between government and the private sector to rewrite the story of fatherlessness in America.

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.

Waldo Waldman

A former combat decorated fighter pilot and sales manager, Waldo is an inspirational sales and leadership keynote speaker on building cultures of excellence, collaboration and courage. Waldo demonstrates how individuals and organizations can break performance barriers and achieve success in highly competitive environments through disciplined training, dedicated teamwork, and passionate leadership. When you combine these elements with an attitude and corporate culture that embraces unwavering trust and commitment, then performance will sky-rocket!
Related: Find out how you can drive results with solid event strategy in our ebook, “7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic.”

Leave Feeling: Empowered

These keynote speakers understand the obstacles you face, the powerlessness you feel, and the journey you must travel because they have traveled the same road also. They can provide you with the inspiration and the skills to take control of your life, no matter if these obstacles are at your job, in your community, or in your personal life, and empower yourself to greater things.

Nicole Malachowski

Col. Nicole Malachowski, USAF (Ret.) defies stereotypes. Yes, she was a jet fighter pilot, but if you think you know her based on that, you’d be wrong. A leader, a combat veteran, the first woman pilot on the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, a White House Fellow and an inductee into both the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, Nicole's distinguished 21-year Air Force career exceeded her wildest dreams. But the dream came to an end when a devastating tick-borne illness left her struggling greatly to speak or walk for almost nine months.
An indomitable spirit, Nicole fought back against overwhelming odds and prevailed. Drawing on stories from her career and personal life, Nicole inspires audiences to rethink the challenges they face every day. She urges them to go beyond resilience and become resurgent. Nicole's empowers people with three key beliefs: failure and risk is the price of entry for achieving something great; sometimes you need to yield to overcome; and her personal mantra – “Nobody wants to lead a scripted life.”

Molly Fletcher

Molly Fletcher is a trailblazer in every sense of the word—a rare talent of business wisdom, relationship brilliance and unwavering optimism. A popular keynote speaker, she shares the unconventional techniques that helped her thrive as one of the first female sports agents in the high stakes, big ego world of professional sports and now a successful entrepreneur.

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.

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.

Leave Feeling: Motivated

Motivational keynote speakers inspire and motivate audiences with storytelling, humor, self-deprecation and emphasizing human values. These speakers win over their audiences with no ego involved to allow audiences to dream and be excited about the possibility of a future vision.

Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown’s unconventional path to business and personal success has taught him that winning in business (and in life) requires anything but conventional thinking. He grew up in Muskegon, Michigan where his blue collar roots taught him the value of hard work and determination. His resume includes an eclectic mix of career stops that ultimately led him to the purchase of a franchise at the age of seventeen.
With a street-wise aptitude and a never quit attitude, he worked his way from the front lines in business to the executive boardroom. For nearly two decades, Kevin was a sales and marketing executive that helped grow a little known family business into an industry giant with annual revenues reaching two billion dollars. After a career in franchising that spanned 30 years, Kevin decided to retire from corporate America and pursue his passion for bringing The HERO Effect® message to as many people and organizations as possible.

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.

Daymond John

From his wildly successful role on ABC's smash hit, “Shark Tank,” to his distinguished status as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Daymond John has become globally recognized for his relentless commitment to promoting and supporting entrepreneurs.

Daymond initially made his mark as the entrepreneur and branding expert behind the groundbreaking lifestyle brand, FUBU, which has eclipsed more than $6 billion in global retail sales. From the streets of Hollis, Queens, Daymond started a global movement from the basement of his mother’s house by capitalizing on the then fledgling hip-hop culture. FUBU was undoubtedly a key development for the streetwear market, which today is a $20 billion industry.

Mel Robbins

Mel Robbins is the host of the new daytime syndicated talk show, “The Mel Robbins Show,” which aired nationwide in September 2019. She has spent the past decade coaching, teaching and motivating millions of people around the world. Her practical, no-nonsense advice and life strategies provide tangible results and skills that help people push through the everyday challenges we all face in life, work and love.

Leave Feeling: Energized

Facing a wave of change and looking for ways to encourage team members to embrace new directions and accelerate efforts as they look to disrupt their marketplace? These keynotes are all about embracing bold change and adopting new innovative ideas with tons of energy.

Kenyon Salo

Kenyon Salo is one of the top trainers, facilitators and keynote speakers in his field of inspiration, motivation, adventure, leadership, team building and sales. One of only five members on the Denver Broncos Thunderstorm Skydive Team, he is seen each week flying into Sports Authority Field at 60+ mph, ending with a soft tip-toe landing on the ten yard line. He brings to the stage over 20 years of successful audience engagement through humor, awe-inspiring moments, prolific storytelling and ‘edge-of-the seat’ content. His goal is to deliver high caliber, powerful and heart touching content to each person in the room.

Paul J Long

Paul J Long travels the world delivering high-content keynotes and training to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and trade associations. His engaging, inspirational and unbridled energetic style is unlike any speaker you’ve experienced before. Paul’s thought-provoking content, tactical solutions for growth and humor that rivals that of a stand-up comedian.

Leave Feeling: Smarter

A good keynote speaker is someone who entertains while informing. But a great one is someone who leaves everyone in the room feeling like the world outside that conference door is theirs to command. These speakers help audiences to grasp new ideas, skills and techniques, which leave the audience feeling smarter, cleverer and more excited about possibilities.

Jeff Bush

A dynamic and insightful speaker, Jeff Bush is known for his unique ability to translate difficult and confusing tax and fiscal information coming out of Washington into winning growth strategies for business owners, executives, and high net worth investors. Jeff is a colleague of Andy Friedman and an integral part of The Washington Update, the non-partisan experts on all things Washington D.C.

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.

Andrew Busch

Andy helps clients break down the chaos and complexity of the world to comprehend its impact on their business. He does this by delivering keynotes and original research that move participants from the current chaos to confidence in the future. Andy has over 35 years of experience in the financial markets and communicating how they work to top firms in financial services, energy, agriculture, technology, and the US government.

Leave Feeling: Clairvoyant

Want to know what the future holds for your career? For your industry? For the planet? Futurist speaks like the ones below will use state-of-the-art research and data to make intelligent predictions about where your industry is heading and how you can take advantage of the workplace of the future.

Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll is one of the world's leading international futurists, trends and innovation experts, providing strategic guidance and insight to some of the most prestigious organizations in the world for over twenty years. He is recognized worldwide as a “thought leader” and authority on: global trends; rapid business model change; business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty; and the necessity for fast paced innovation. 

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.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger

As a leading expert in technology trends and a recognized authority on global business trends, Patrick’s work focuses on providing insights into the technological forces transforming businesses and industries around the world. As Founder of Trend Mastery, a strategic consulting agency, Patrick helps his clients identify ground-breaking business opportunities. Patrick was recently invited to speak at TEDx in Sacramento on the topic of Learned Intuition.

Keynote Speakers Are Highly Sought for a Reason

Finding 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. In short, they’re highly sought out. Clients always return to these trusted speakers 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 must be a strategy and process behind the decision-making to ensure you get the right person to achieve the aims of your event.
Want to learn more about keynote speakers and how they can add a new level of engagement for your next event? Let’s talk—contact us today.
Mandy Espey
Mandy Espey

Mandy joined ITA Group in 2005, serving in operations before transitioning to the purchasing team as a Buyer and Supervisor. In her current role as Lead Buyer, Mandy leads the internal presale process for financial and insurance brands, conceptualizing events, building program budgets, negotiating supplier partner contracts, and maintaining client and supplier relationships. She works closely with internal sales and operations teams to bring strategic recommendations to each program. Mandy enjoys traveling, attending concerts, cheering on her beloved Iowa Hawkeyes and Kansas City Chiefs, and spending time with family and friends, especially her two sons.