Over the last 18 months I’ve been studying the speaking industry in all 4 corners of the globe, from the 2000 professional speakers at NSA (National Speakers Association) annual event in Washington, to Mumbai where the hottest speaking market in the world is about to boom.

Throughout these 18 countries visited, we’ve discovered that there are 4 clear disruptions to the 40 billion dollar speaking industry that we will see in the next 3 years.

1. Economic Factors

For too long many of the professional speakers have been proactive with their speaking calendars and have managed to book engagements well in advanced year after year, and sometimes with the same clients. Today with unprecedented constant rapid change in the corporate world, speakers must look at ways to be more reactive when securing speaking engagements. Straight after 911, the most booked speakers in the financial world were speakers specialising in ethics and integrity. Understanding up-to-date economic factors and where the industry is currently at, in a certain time, will assist greatly in acquiring speaking engagements in the future.

2. Influence of TED

TED and TEDx events have massively influenced the speaking industry and it’s all to do with attention span and duration. Attention spans today are shorter with some of the latest research telling us that in just 20 years our attention span has gone from 1 minute to 9 seconds. Normally on a conference program, a keynote speaker will speak for 1 hour. Since the 18 minute TED Talk has come on the scene, we have decided that an idea, concept and inspiration can come in an 18 minute talk. (Obviously us speakers know better) However, the TED style talks will continue to influence the conference industry and speakers will find that they will be asked to do 45 minute keynotes or even 30 minute keynote, heaven forbid.

3. Types of Speakers

Today, there are more speakers wanting to become paid keynote speakers. Not only is there more speakers on the market then any other time in history, the demand of quality content rich and value adding speakers from the conference industry is unprecedented. For this reason, every speaker must lift their game. The audience demand from every speaker, inspiration and content. They want you to move them as well as provide valuable take aways. They want you to connect with their hearts and minds. They want you to be intelligent and funny, witty and warm, charismatic and vulnerable. An inspirational story speaker can no longer just tell their story, the audience want tools and strategies. A futuristic speaker can no longer just educate and inform, they must move and inspire. The types of speakers and the demand of speakers are changing, the industry demands speakers to lift their game and be everything to everyone.

4. The Rise of Cyborgs

With all the latest technology embraced in most conferences today, speakers must understand how educated your audiences are before you even get up on stage. They have searched you on social media, watched your youtube clips and searched for other peoples opinion of you, even before they hear you speak. Not only this, they are tweeting about you while you speak. We all sleep within an arm length of our phone and it never leaves our side throughout the day. Each day we have the entire worlds knowledge in our pockets. We communicate to cyborgs. Recently I was at an event and they had a live twitter feed on the screen while the speaker was speaking. The speaker was average and then we saw some tweets on the screen which did no favours for the speaker or the room atmosphere, so I immediately went to the AV desk and got them to remove it from the screens. We live in a unique time where everyones opinion is heard, and as speakers we must understand that our audiences are now, cyborgs.

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