As content becomes the key criterion of choice for business events within today's knowledge economy, booking a keynote speaker who can deliver insightful and engaging messages to an audience is essential for a good return on investment for event organisers. Beyond being enthralled and invigorated, delegates want to acquire tools and techniques that can be applied to their everyday life (whether that be at work or play) from whoever is standing on the conference stage.
Here at Speakers Corner, we noticed key trends in 2015 arise from changing preferences and expectations. After logging and analysing every enquiry we’ve received over the past five years, our 'Speakernomics’ project helped to show a true picture of who, how and why speakers are used in conferences and events, event managers should check out these five trends before making keynote selections in 2016:
1. Learning from other industries
As the demand for speakers with a business skill-set hits an all-time high, so does the expectation for them to translate experiences from different industries into lessons that audiences can apply to their own, especially at internal conferences. Companies are beginning to recognise that employees are in the best position to implement new ideas and processes that feed into overall effectiveness and productivity. Through exposure to the knowledge and stories from experts in other fields, delegates are able to acquire eye-opening, challenging and entertaining experiences different to those in their usual environment, which in turn promises to incite innovation and sustained change upon their grand return to the office.
2. Wellness and work-life balance
Work-life balance has been pushed even further to the fore in 2015, with a heightened demand for speakers to talk on broad subjects. For a company to achieve greater productivity, employees need to feel a sense of belonging, ownership and satisfaction. Wellness is a vital element of this and, as it is increasingly incorporated into both personal and professional lives, will form either an explicit or implicit part of a keynote speaker’s repertoire in 2016, regardless of her or his subject matter or role within a conference or event.
With a growing demand for female business leaders and entrepreneurs as speakers, amongst an increased recognition of women’s contributions to economic growth, the topic of gender equality has truly arrived at the forefront of the event management industry. This is set to develop in 2016 in two specific ways.
Firstly, with respect to events and conferences, a balanced agenda of male and female speakers will become part of the norm. Secondly, the arena of equality will be expanded to also include more ethnic minorities, in an overall shift towards diversity and equal representation within the industry.
4. Technology and disruption
If the recent decade has been a bedrock of technology (the Internet, cyber security, social media, and everything in between), then 2015 has been the year of ‘disruption’. We noticed this buzzword dominating event agendas throughout the year, and have also seen disruptive event registration software.
Clients across sectors and companies want to know whether their industry is being disrupted and how they can become the next great disruptor themselves. For keynote speakers in 2016, this means that those who have been part of a disrupted industry, or even studied and analysed it, will become ever more in demand to speak at conferences and events.
5. Return on investment
As events and conferences become more critical to the learning and development of employees, the ‘return on investment’ of commercially-focused speakers and their capability to deliver business messages is increasingly being woven into business strategies.
Those planning the agenda for a conference or event in the New Year will be challenged further to understand what they want to achieve from it, both as a whole experience, and from the individual sessions of each speaker, and subsequently will need to rely more heavily on event tools that support data collections and analysis.