If you're a newbie to the SHRM Annual Conference, you'll see that a major attraction to entice people to attend is the array of keynotes providing guidance and inspiration. Perhaps this was one of the critical factors influencing your decision.
After attending for 14 years, you'll see that their are 4 major types of keynotes (h/t to Matt Charney for inspiring the post) that SHRM brings in.
The CEO/Major Executive.
This speaker shares his (usually) insight of how he views HR and the workplace. Think Earl Graves, Richard Branson, Jack Welch, Tony Hsieh, Louis Gerstner or Steve Forbes. This year we have David Novak.
The Management/HR Pundit
This individual usually has a best selling book on HR and is sharing his or her results. Think John Kotter, Patrick Lencioni, Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Collins, Marcus Buckingham, or Dan Pink. This year it is Tom Friedman.
The Celebrity/Political LeaderIn the past, SHRM has brought in such names as Tom Brokaw, Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, Al Gore, Rudy Guiliani, Al Gore, Bill Cosby, and Sidney Poitier. This year, we have Laura Bush.
The Inspirational/Motivational Speaker
This speaker usually has a message that gets us excited about what HR is about, or inspires us about how he/she overcame obstacles. Sometimes, this overlaps with the celebrity speaker. Such audience pleasers have included Lee Woodruff, Captain Mark Kelly & Gabby Giffords, Erin Gruwell, Liz Murray, Michael J. Fox, and Lance Armstrong. This year is Robin Roberts.
Keep these archetypes in minds for future SHRM conferences.