Sitting in a fantastic Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference by the publishers of Selling Power Magazine, and have heard some great presentations already (as well as one stinker).  In just a couple hours of presentations, six best practices have already been highlighted:

Use a proven icebreaker to get the audience engaged (and laughing)
Start with a joke, or anecdote, something to get your audience’s attention immediately and to break the ice.  Test the story or joke with another audience (employees, colleagues, etc.) before you get on stage to make sure it’ll work.

Talk in stories
Tell stories about your customers, their issues, their problems that were wrestled with and overcome.  Stories can be incredibly engaging – especially if they include the three essential elements of Problem, Struggle and Solution.

Use a thematic analogy to make your points
One particularly effective speaker used basketball to make several points during a brilliant keynote.  He spoke about sales coaching best practices, and to outline problems in current sales coaching environments used such phrases such as “too many big games, not enough practice” and “too much defense, not enough offense.”  His points were immediately clear.

Talk and present in tweetable formats
Use succinct statistics, share points in threes, and pre-determine statements in 100 characters or less.  Make it easy for the audience to tweet and retweet your content to ensure your message resonates across the social web and well beyond the room.

Give attending press/bloggers a copy of tweetable comments in advance
At this conference, there are a couple tables with trade press, bloggers and tweeters.  If they had a list of tweetable primary points before the keynote, I bet that content would get exponential play. (hat tip to @annekeseley for this one).

Present the problem, not the solution (i.e. ditch the pitch)
You don’t have to walk me through your entire solution if you prove to me that you understand the problem.  Focusing on the problem, breaking down why it exists and how people are addressing it, demonstrates your subject matter expertise and thought leadership.  It makes me want to get to know you more – you and your product – after the presentation.  I know we’ve been saying “ditch the pitch” for a long time, but it’s clearly alive and well (unfortunately).

Curious to hear what other best practices you have for successful keynotes.