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Kelly McDonald

Diversity Speaker, Multicultural Marketing & Consumer Expert

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Kelly McDonald is considered one of the nation's top experts & public speakers on diversity & inclusion, leadership, marketing, the customer experience and consumer trends. She is the founder of McDonald Marketing, which has twice been named one of the "Top Ad Agencies in the U.S." by Advertising Age magazine and ranked as one of the fastest-growing independently-owned companies in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine.

Her client experience includes brands such as Toyota, Chubb, NASA, Kimberly-Clark, Nike, Harley-Davidson, Miller-Coors, and Sherwin-Williams.

Kelly was named one of the "10 Most Booked Speakers in the U.S." and ranked #1 on the list of "25 Hot Speakers" by Successful Meetings Magazine.

She has been featured on CNBC, in Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fast Company, on and more.

She is the author of four bestselling books on diversity & inclusion, marketing, the customer experience and leadership.

Her latest, "It's Time to Talk about Race at Work: Every Leader's Guide to Making Progress on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion" debuted as the #1 Bestselling Business Book in the U.S.

Kelly travels from Denver, CO.

Topics & Categories
  • Business Management & Strategy
  • Communication
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Human Resources & Workplace Culture
  • Leadership
  • Marketing & Branding
  • Motivational Speakers
  • Retail
  • Sales & Service
  • Social Media | Internet of Things
  • Team-Work & Collaboration
  • Virtual Presentations
  • Women of Influence

Kelly McDonald Speaking Presentations:

Click on the links below to view conference program descriptions for each of Kelly’s most popular topics. These program abstracts provide a general understanding of the topic and what audiences will learn. All presentations are fully customized to address a client’s specific needs, industry, geographic location(s) and business pressures. Length of presentations is also customized to meet clients’ needs.

It’s Time to Talk about Race at Work:
How to Make Progress on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion +

Corporate America is not very diverse; we're a long way off from having equal representation of people of color in many organizations, especially in key executive and leadership positions. Many leaders want to create change, but don't know how. How do you know where your blind spots are that can create obstacles for diverse talent?

And how do you address the issues and comments that come up when employees feel nervous, resentful or uncomfortable as you make headway on diversity, equity and inclusion in your organization?

Your intentions may be sincere and heartfelt, but intentions aren't enough. If you don't know how you come across to others and you don't know how to build bridges, people can be offended, jobs can be lost, and lawsuits can be filed. This session (and the book) does not approach this from the standpoint of social activism, political ideology or an HR perspective. This is the roadmap for how businesspeople can successfully create a fair and equitable workplace, one that recognizes diverse talent and fosters productive and constructive conversations across different perspectives that make business better - for everyone.

Not a bunch of theory, this session provides specific, actionable, no-cost tactics that you can implement immediately. When it comes to talking about race at work, attendees will move from “uncomfortable and unsure” to “confident and empowered”, using proven tools that get real results. And that’s language everyone values.​

This session will illuminate:​

  • The well-intended things people say that are hurtful or offensive to others

  • The excuses people use to avoid doing anything about diversity

  • Why your diversity & inclusion efforts haven’t done the job​

You’ll learn:

  • How to talk about race in helpful and positive ways: do’s & don’ts

  • Answers to tough employee questions or racist remarks

  • Where to start when you don’t know where to start – an 8-step framework that will show you, step-by-step, how to become a more diverse and inclusive company, department or team.

  • How to effectively recruit, interview and support diverse candidates

  • How to build business relationships with people who are different from you

  • For leaders, how to set the example, reduce tokenism, and deal with naysayers and derailers. How to avoid “Launch & Abandon” with your diversity efforts. --

How to Work With & Lead People Not Like You +

Diversity in the workforce is a hot topic. Many employers are under pressure to make sure their workforce and employee base is diverse, inclusive and representative of the customers they serve. The most progressive organizations value diversity because they realize that a diverse workforce has positive impact on the bottom line. Such a workforce doesn’t just lead to better decisions and solutions and innovation - it has been proven to grow business and profits. And a diverse workforce doesn’t just mean employees of different racial and ethnic backgrounds; it can also mean diversity of thought.

There are numerous ways we can be “diverse”: A new mom is in a very different place than one who is an empty nester. Someone with a master’s degree is very different than someone who went to a vocational/technical college. Someone who is foreign-born is different than someone who is U.S. born. “People not like you” takes away the baggage that is often associated with the word diversity and frames the subject in a more relatable way. We are ALL dealing with people “not like us”. Sometimes that can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be.

When working with people who are not like you, friction can arise. Different people may not see eye-to-eye on an issue. They may have vastly different approaches to work. Their communication styles may be very different. Their comfort in working with technology may be miles apart. Cultural backgrounds and norms can differ. Even men and women can see situations differently. How do you work alongside someone who may be quite different from you, respect those differences and be effective in your role?

And what about leading a diverse team? Leaders face daily the challenges of inspiring, communicating and executing strategy with their teams. Now imagine the challenges of leading teams that may be incredibly diverse! How does one motivate and lead groups of people who come from different backgrounds? How do you do that when people are motivated by different values and view the world and work through different lenses?

This session takes the topic of work and leadership to a new place – one that is getting more attention every day and will continue to do so.

Learner Outcomes:

  • You’ll learn why diversity at work is important, but why it seems so hard to work with people not like you. And why that makes you NORMAL, not a bad person. You’ll learn why it often comes with stress, complex emotions and even fear for some people.

  • Specific tactics will be shared for how employees can succeed in today’s diverse workplace without losing their minds or becoming frustrated by approaches to work that may differ from theirs.

  • For those in leadership positions, or those who aspire to manage and lead others, three key steps to make a diverse team work more cohesively, more productively and enjoyably.

  • The four key words that will transform how you interact with your colleagues and associates in tough situations to get the best outcome. How to troubleshoot the complex issues and address the “derailers” and naysayers that lurk within every organization and threaten its success. --

How to Market, Sell to & Serve People Not Like You +

If you could grow your business simply by marketing to your existing customers and raking in more referrals, making money would be a cakewalk. But to generate new revenue, you have to win over the customers and clients you’re not getting, but could be. Now, more than ever, it’s important to reach new prospects in different ways to grow your business.

It’s imperative to form a connection with customers and prospects in order to earn their business. This is especially true in the highly competitive business signage industry. But how do you form a connection with someone who is completely different from you? Whether it’s gender, age, lifestage, race, ethnicity or even communication preferences, you need to be able to break through barriers to connect in a meaningful way, build trust and differentiate yourself from your competition.

People spend money on what they care about. Show your customers and prospects how you fit into what they need and what they value, and they’ll show you the money. By recognizing people’s differences and just tweaking your product, message, approach or marketing efforts to reflect their values, you‘ll get the business.

Understanding your customers’ values is how you will reach new customers’ hearts, minds, and, ultimately, their wallets.

Using consumer insights and real-world examples from successful companies, retailers and other organizations, “How to Market, Sell to and Serve People Not Like You” shows you how to create a deep, values-based connection between you and your customers and prospects.

You’ll learn:

  • Five low-cost / no cost things you can do right now to grow your business with new customers and increase customer satisfaction and retention

  • The do’s and don’ts of marketing to different customer segments and their values

  • The major macro trends that affect your business – and all of us – and how to leverage them for growth & customer satisfaction

  • How to communicate in a relevant manner to stand out from your competition

  • How to recover from a mistake that smooths things over EVERY TIME --

How to Sell & Serve Your Customers Virtually
- Like You’ve Been Doing it Forever +

It appears WFH and working virtually is here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future. That means you need to acquire new sales and customer service skills to provide your customers and prospects an exceptional experience, just like you did when you could see them and work with them face-to-face.

You know how to sell. You know how to communicate effectively with your customers. Now you just need to know how the strong skills you already have translate to the virtual world. It’s different, but not that difficult. And it’s critical, so you don’t lose the traction and momentum you’ve worked so hard to build. You can OWN and conquer this virtual world!

In This Info-Packed, Webcast, You’ll Learn:

  • First things first: the basic and inexpensive tools/equipment you need to look like a rockstar on camera – and simple tips and do’s & don’ts to make you look pulled-together, polished and professional.

  • The 5 most effective virtual selling techniques and why they work

  • The most beneficial communication techniques and approaches that clients and prospects are receptive to and that demonstrate that you know how to provide exceptional service. And the EXACT words they need to hear from you now.

  • How to communicate your value to your clients, so there is no doubt you’re the problem-solver and solution provider

  • Specific examples will be used to illustrate effective techniques

  • Do’s & Don’ts will be covered in detail --

How to Step Up & Lead in Tough Times +

You don’t have to be the boss to be a leader. In fact, now, more than ever, the way you approach your work, the business landscape and the very real challenges we all face define you as a leader – or someone who needs to be led. It’s time to step up and show your team, your customers, prospects and suppliers how you solve problems and keep the business moving forward.

Leadership doesn’t come from holding a position or a big title. It comes from your actions. It comes from your mindset, how you communicate with others and leading by example.

Tough times and hardship call for specific characteristics and approaches to be displayed and communicated.

Honesty, transparency and empathy work psychologically to calm people and make them feel safe. And when people feel safe, they’re able to focus on their work.

In this session, you’ll learn how to communicate those attributes in everyday business situations, while solving problems and moving the business forward. The result is a level of trust and loyalty that cannot be garnered any other way.

You’ll learn:

  • The five words that will soothe tension with your boss, your team or your customers every time

  • Specific tactics on handling bad news: what to do - and what NOT to do

  • How to build esprit de corps: the common spirit that inspires enthusiasm, devotion, pride and purpose in your team

  • The three simple do’s and don’ts that transform tough situations into best possible outcomes with your customers and associates --

How to Market & Keep Selling in Tough Times
- Without Being Tone Deaf or Insensitive to Serious Situations +

In a crisis or uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to connect with your customers and prospects, but in a meaningful way. But in current times, what it means to be meaningful is drastically different than what it was yesterday. People still need products and services, but if your message or approach doesn’t reflect the reality of tough times, you risk appearing irrelevant – or worse, out of touch and insensitive.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to reach people in different ways to keep your business growing and stay top of mind through the turmoil.

It’s imperative that your customers and prospects know that you’re on top of tough situations and that you have their back.

Marketing and selling need to take on a different tone now, one that is about solving problems, not trying to simply move product out the door.

People spend money on what they care about. And they don’t buy products, they buy solutions. Show your customers and prospects how you fit into what they need and what they value right now, and they’ll show you the money. By acknowledging people’s emotions, fears and anxieties and marketing with honesty and empathy, and by just tweaking your customer approach to reflect the times, you‘ll get the business.

You’ll learn:

  • Five low-cost / no cost things you can do right now to grow your business with new customers and increase customer satisfaction and retention

  • The do’s and don’ts of marketing during a crisis so you come out ahead when the storm passes

  • How to use honesty and empathy in your marketing and sales approach, without coming across as emotionally reactive

  • How to communicate in a relevant manner to build trust, foster long-term loyalty and stand out from your competition --

Using Thought Leadership to Grow Your Business and Your Brand +

Thought leadership is a hot topic right now – and for very good reason: 

Research from the National Center for the Middle Market shows that:​

  • 58% of decision makers choose a business based off thought leadership

  • 61% of decision makers are more willing to pay a premium to work with a company that articulates a clear vision through thought leadership

​Statistics like this demonstrate that thought leadership is good for business. It costs nothing but time, and can position you as THE expert in your industry, your community and your area of specialization. As a thought leader, you become the “go to”, trusted source of information, insight, breadth of experience and expertise.

But what exactly IS thought leadership? What defines it and how do you deliver it, measure it and use it to grow your business?​

You’ll Learn:

  • What thought leadership is – and what it’s not (HINT: It’s not a sales pitch)

  • Why it works – what makes it valuable to people and how it brings new business in the door

  • How to create a simple, effective thought leadership plan that you can execute in 3 hours per week or less

  • How to gauge reader/viewer/followers response – and how to harness their power to make your efforts even more effective and valued

  • How to measure your progress and grow your following

  • Specific examples will be used to illustrate effective techniques

  • Do’s & Don’ts will be covered in detail --

Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You
Deliver a better business experience, for every kind of customer +

Your industry is going through tremendous change: technology is changing how business is done and what customers expect. More and more, businesses must differentiate themselves on the experience that customers have, in addition to the products and services offered.

The way to stand apart from your competition and grow business is about offering a customer experience like no other.

And don’t let the word “customer” limit your thinking. We all have customers – even if your customer is your boss. Whether the “customer” is external (customers and prospects) or internal (your associates, suppliers, your supervisor or your team), each of us is responsible for satisfying our customer constituencies.

This fun and engaging, high content session will cover key methods of how companies, brands and products struggling to differentiate themselves in the “sea of sameness” can foster long-term loyalty and brand preference with exceptional and customized customer experiences.

A "one-size fits all" approach to the customer experience is no longer viable. Using real world examples and best practices from successful organizations, you’ll learn how catering to customers’ differences can differentiate you from your competitors and give you the edge in a business that demands more from you than ever before.

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the three principles that ensure an exceptional customer experience

  • What to do – and NOT do – when things go wrong. The 5 words that customers want to hear and that work every time

  • Key customer values and insights that will help you market, sell and service your customers more effectively

  • 5 low-cost, no-cost action items that you can apply immediately --

Assertive  Leadership for  Women:
How to Move the Business Forward with the Teams You Lead +

“Assertiveness” is a widely misunderstood characteristic. Some interpret it as being “bossy”; some interpret it as “standing your ground” or “speaking your mind” and some interpret it as “taking charge” or being aggressive.

Assertiveness is none of these things, yet it’s an essential skill in business and a quality that all successful leaders have. And it IS a skill – it can be developed and honed, like any other skill.

Often times, women who work in predominantly male industries feel pressure to perform at their peak while also not appearing to be seen as too “domineering.” This balancing act requires women in executive roles (or rising stars at their company ) to become more assertive, in order to lead effectively.

For many women, being assertive can be challenging because we tend to be “people pleasers” and often put the needs of the group (your team or your associates) before our own needs. Being assertive is not at odds with teamwork – in fact, it is constructive for your team and your organization.  Assertiveness is a management and performance quality that is highly charismatic and appealing.

You'll Learn:

  • What assertiveness is – and what it’s not

  • How to develop your assertive style in a manner that appeals, not repels

  • How to communicate, empower and lead in predominantly male industries or teams

  • How young women executives see you - and what inspires them most  --

To inquire about Kelly McDonald's speaking schedule & booking Kelly McDonald contact us.

What Clients are Saying

Kelly, your energy, enthusiasm and mastery of marketing was amazingly what the audience needed! As a marketer myself, watching someone of your caliber is like a shot of adrenaline in the arm. Wow! And thank you!!!

–Independent Community Bankers of America


Kelly, your energy, enthusiasm and mastery of marketing was amazingly what the audience needed! As a marketer myself, watching someone of your caliber is like a shot of adrenaline in the arm. Wow! And thank you!!!

–Independent Community Bankers of America

Thank you for the wonderful presentation you made at our Annual CPCU All-Industry Day event. Everyone I’ve spoken with has stated that they were very impressed with your energy and keen insights. We couldn’t have had a better speaker to cap off our event.

–State Farm Insurance

Thanks for everything! The presentation to our group…the copy of your presentation…the clever conversation…You have a great way of presenting interesting facts. Our group got a lot out of your presentation. Your scored the highest of any speaker we’ve ever had. Thanks!

–Automotive Sales Council


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