Meeting Mentor Magazine

June 2024

Speaker Trends for 2023

Keynote speakers are key to the success of any conference or convention so it’s important to get the right person on the stage to set the tone for everything to follow. What will be the hot topics, themes and presentation styles for the coming year? MeetingMentor asked a top speakers bureau exec — Canada Stefl, President of Key Speakers, to weigh in on what she sees trending for speakers in 2023. 

MM: Are there any overarching themes you see emerging for 2023?
Stefl: We’re seeing many conference and meeting themes geared towards overcoming adversity, going beyond, reaching beyond the limits, etc.  A big trend we’re seeing is the request for interactive and experiential presentations. We are noting from a number of sources that planners don’t want the “same old” stand-up presentation, and the moderated conversation format is becoming a little monotonous — they don’t want everyone to speak in that format. So, we’re seeing requests for “Talk and Play,” interactive experiential events where the audience participates in the activity, including magic, variety, comedy and audience participation. Efforts are being made to diversify in the speaking and presentation format to make the entire event more interesting for the audience.

MM: What types of topics do you think will be in high demand next year?
Stefl: Some of these themes and speaker types currently in demand include: collaboration, storytelling, authenticity, human connection, trust, empathy and always diversity issues.

MM: Are there any differences between what people are looking for in a speaker for a virtual or hybrid event, as compared to in-person only?
Stefl: We’ve seen a quick shift back to in-person events from virtual. Hybrid events are quite common, and we expect the trend of in-person hybrid events to continue, with virtual lessening. We are seeing the bulk of virtual inquiries coming from ERGs and for internal company events. That said, I don’t notice any difference in the speaker type for virtual, hybrid and in-person. (*See note at the end for tips on digital and hybrid speakers.)

MM: Are bookers looking for any specific speaker demographics?
Stefl: Yes, they are interested in newer names. The bread-and-butter timeless speakers will always be desirable, but planners seek bureau direction when looking for the up-and-coming speakers — all of our proposals are structured to present diverse options, which clients like.  More efforts are being made by planners to have a diverse speaker lineup – different backgrounds, genders and younger speakers. With this said, we have been focusing on helping planners discover speakers that are “current, up and coming, and diverse.” 

MM: You mentioned more requests for more interactive formats — what innovations can we look forward to on the stage next year?
Stefl: I think that the variety of presentation styles will be becoming more important, calling for the speakers to come up with creative ways to engage their audience above and beyond the stand up keynote or moderated conversation.

*Virtual and Hybrid Speaker Tips

Andrea H. Gold, President,
Gold Stars Speakers Bureau

Andrea Gold, President of Gold Stars Speakers Bureau, a personal leadership consultant and author of The Business of Successful Speaking: Proven Secrets to Becoming a Million Dollar Speaker, among others, handles numerous requests for virtual as well as in-person presenters. She notes that there are differences in what makes a speaker excel in each of these environments, as well as which format is best suited for a conference organizer’s specific needs. Here are some tips she offers to help ensure your program will be successful

• “Be clear if this is a training session or a keynote presentation. A training session delivers mainly content, so style isn’t quite as critical,” she says. “It takes much more skill to deliver remotely and keep people’s attention virtually than in person.” Especially in the case of choosing keynote speakers, look for speakers with experience in delivering virtual presentations, Gold advises. Look at sample videos of their virtual presentations for energy, style (such as whether they standing or sitting, hand movements and eye contact) and their level of comfort in front of a camera, methods of engagement, and the audiovisual aspects. “Some speakers have mastered the art of exuding energy and excitement, and engaging audiences who can be easily distracted. Other speakers may come across a bit flat and boring.”

• Find out about the speaker’s tools used in virtual deliveries, such as the microphone, lighting, background and other tech setups. Some speakers have elaborate home studios, others charge for using a professional studio, and some simply sit at their computer using the webcam.

• Because there are many technical logistics involved in a virtual presentation, consider holding a brief conference call to familiarize the speaker with the tech platform used for the virtual delivery. It also can be a good idea to arrange for the speaker to log in 10-15 minutes ahead of the actual program, giving you time to solve any connectivity or audiovisual issues.

• Finally, she says, don’t assume the speaker’s presentation fee includes livestreaming and replays on a password-protected site for a designated period. “Ask for permissions, then document that specific agreement on the contract,” says Gold.

“Don’t assume; communicate and ask questions so you get what you need and want in your speaker! Set your speaker and program up for success!”

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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