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Michelle Kelley Keynote Speaker

  • Retired FBI Special Agent Hostage Negotiator
  • US Lead at The Listening Institute
  • TEDX Speaker

Michelle Kelley's Biography

Michelle Kelley, a former second-grade teacher turned expert in economic espionage and state security, now leads the U.S. branch of The Listening Institute. Michelle’s journey from the classroom to the forefront of international law enforcement is not just a career shift but a testament to her unique skill set in communication and negotiation. She is a celebrated speaker, often sought after for her insights on how listening and understanding can be powerful tools in both hostage negotiation and the business sector.

Before joining the FBI, Michelle taught second grade, where she honed her ability to listen and communicate effectively—skills that she would later realize were invaluable in high-stakes environments. Transitioning to work with state and federal agencies, she dealt with cases ranging from cracking pedophile rings to negotiating with terrorists. Her experiences have given her profound insights into the mechanics of human communication in crisis situations.

At The Listening Institute, Michelle trains professionals to apply negotiation techniques refined in hostage situations to their everyday business dealings, thereby enhancing their influence and efficacy in negotiations. Her approach, which emphasises the importance of listening, has not only revolutionized how law enforcement officials handle delicate situations but has also been immensely beneficial to business leaders aiming to secure better deals. Michelle’s workshops and keynotes distill these complex interactions into transferable skills that attendees can immediately apply in their professional lives.

Michelle Kelley is not just a master of negotiation; she is a pioneer in adapting these high-stakes communication skills for broader societal benefits. Her work continues to inspire and equip individuals across various sectors to engage more meaningfully, listen more effectively, and achieve greater outcomes in their personal and professional interactions.

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Michelle Kelley's Speaking Topics

  • Listen like a hostage negotiator from the FBI:

Don’t leave success in negotiation to chance. Michelle Kelley will show your audience how to pick up unintentional insights. Insights we all give away, all the time. Michelle is a memorable speaker who’ll entertain, engage, and teach even the most challenging audiences.

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Videos of Michelle Kelley

 How to Listen and Influence Like a Hostage Negotiator | Michelle Kelley | TEDxPortsmouth
How to Listen and Influence Like a Hostage Negotiator | Michelle Kelley | TEDxPortsmouth

Comments & Testimonials

As a former FBI special agent and hostage negotiator, Michelle Kelley is about as captivating of a speaker as you can find. From tips and tricks about how to become an elite listener in your own life to real world anecdotes from her storied career, Michelle has the ability to keep everyone in the room hanging on her every word. When speaking to a classroom of communications students at Salem State University, Michelle got everyone involved in the conversation with a variety of hands-on learning activities that brought the depth of her experience and skills to life. Everyone in the room really felt they could listen to her talk for hours. Michelle is a truly valuable and unique speaker for any classroom, business, conference and beyond. 
Professor Lauren Torlone Salem State University 
Michelle proved to be a charismatic and informative featured speaker at our quarterly statewide InfraGard meeting.  Her insights into the practice of listening brought valuable and tangible lessons useful to newcomers through board level professionals.  In a world full of digital noise and always on signals from people and platforms alike, Michelle quickly set herself apart as an expert practitioner of one of our most valuable human tradecrafts.
Jason Sgro President Infragard NH 
Michelle Kelley is an expert presenter articulating the importance of listening in a way that the entire audience can understand.  I worked with Michelle in April 2024 when she spoke at the NEMOA Spring Summit to a room of 250+ Retail Marketing Professionals, and she kept the attention of this hard to focus crowd by weaving in engaging stories from her experiences as an FBI Special Agent, shaping her content in a way that is exciting and meaningful.  She shared valuable tools for listening, understanding, and influencing customers that the audience can immediately use to improve their impact.  I highly recommend Michelle as a speaker and the topic of Elite Listening is relevant for all industries.
Kristen Hunter Vice President, Content and Experience, Momentum Events 
We were very fortunate to be able to bring Michelle Kelley to our health care coalition conference this year. This conference is made up of various disciplines across hospitals, long-term care, EMS, public health, hospice, etc.  Michelle did a great job of connecting with the audience and engaging them. Her message of listening to the what and how a person is communicating is vitally important to this audience to ensure they are providing the best care possible. Her personality and delivery drew the audience in, and the quick tutorial activities were a great capstone to a great presentation. Her material is appropriate for all levels across any facility, discipline, or job task. I encourage anyone to talk to her about the value she brings!
J. Scott Nichols Senior Director, Granite State Health Care Coalition, Foundation for Healthy Communities

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