Rebel Uprising Podcast

5 Important Trends for the Speaking Industry for 2018

Speaker beware!

The speaking industry is ever changing and ever evolving, and you've got to stay on top of it in order to make your speaking grow.

Once upon a time, as a speaker, you needed to have a buffet of topics listed on your website.

If you could talk about leadership and goal setting and time management and communication skills, awesome.

The more topics, the better.

Pretty much if you could read a book about it, you could be speaking about it.

In recent years, these speakers have started to struggle because the speaking industry and the people who book speakers are looking for speakers who are experts on their particular topic.

The speaking industry is changing, and you need to stay on top of it.

Today we review some trends in the speaking industry and how you can change and adapt to help you stay on top of your game.   

In the past couple of weeks, I have been pouring over meeting planner studies and meeting industry reports to identify the emerging trends in the speaking industry, and figure out how that will impact you as a speaker.

Here are the five most important trends for the speaking industry in 2018 and how you can stay out in front of them.

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Trend #1: Audiences Want ROI from Attending Events

Audiences who come to events are seeking a return on investment from attending an event. Audiences want to know that it's going to be worth their time and their money to go to an event.

According to the Trends research report of CWT Meetings and Events, the expectation is that the audience should walk away with a new set of emotions that changes the way they think and act. That change is there on the basis of measuring the value of that meeting or event.

So what does this mean for speakers?

This means that the people who are choosing speakers, the people who are booking or hiring speakers, want to know that their audience will experience a change as a result of your speech.

This means your speech needs to be actionable for the audience with a clear transformation, and you must highlight that transformation in all of your pitches and your speaker marketing material.

And if you're not exactly sure what type of transformation you're giving to the audience? Then you absolutely need to have clarity!  As you start marketing your speaking in the new year, go to to get my guide on how to create a transformation for your audience.

Believe me, the more actionable your speech is, the more likely you're going to get hired because you can prove that the audience will get a return on investment.

Trend #2: Audiences (Especially Millennials) Crave Engagement

Conferences want the best of the best because the audience is craving engagement. Especially the millennials in the audiences who are attending more and more events.

According to the Skift Report, great speakers are critically important to the event experience. A recent study of millennial meeting attendees found that nearly three-quarters attended an event because the topics and the speakers sounded great.

For you, this means that you have to up your game.

The keynote speech that was working well for you in previous years might not work as well as more and more millennials start attending events.

You've got to find a way to innovate your speech and make audience engagement a priority.

One of the things that I have been working on with my clients is making their message shareable on social media.

For me, this has looked like boiling down their big idea into a simple hashtag. That means you have to simplify your message so that it can be shared and followed on social media.

Mel Robbins, who, as you probably know I am completely obsessed with, does this so well for her speaking. She has the #5SecondRule. You can search on any social media platform to find people who have either read her book or seen her speak, and how they have been using that rule and the results that they are getting.

That is the ultimate in engagement and interaction.

Also, be thinking about how can you bring more multimedia into your speaking. How can you use videos or other forms of multimedia to make millennials and audience members engage more.

Another way to up your game is to finally lose your fear of getting your freak on. Get out of the norm of what conventional speakers have been doing in the past.

For example, one of my clients, Kira Hug, she did a keynote speech dressed as Bridezilla.

She was talking to the wedding industry and her whole speech was getting your freak on, embracing your weird.

She dressed up as Bridezilla and the audience loved it so much that she walked off stage to the offer of another paid speech at a national organization.

Figure out how you can up your game, make your speech sharable on social media. Create a buzz. Get the audience involved in multimedia or just get your freak on and be different to engage the audience.

Trend #3: Crowdsourcing Speakers is Growing – Time to Grow Your Platform

Finally, keep in mind that it's important for you to grow your platform as a speaker, because crowdsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular way to choose speakers for events.

Now if you are familiar with South by Southwest, you know that they do an interactive panel picker. You as a speaker can submit your panel idea or submit your speech idea for South by Southwest, and their audience gets to choose who comes and does their speech or participates on a panel at the event.

What this means for you is that it's time for you to grow your platform, to start your movement, because you are going to need your peeps to support you as crowdsourcing takes off more.

If this is something you've been avoiding, like, “Ah, I'm a speaker. I really don't need to have a tribe of people who follow my work,” it's time to stop the avoidance and get a tribe of dedicated people to follow you. It's time to start your movement.

Grow your platform.

One of the best places to do that for speakers, especially if you're a corporate speaker, is LinkedIn. Post articles. They're now allowing you to do videos on LinkedIn and upload videos directly to LinkedIn. Get your name out there and be seen as the expert you are.

Or even get on Facebook. Do Facebook Lives. Share your message, because you have got to start building that following so that you can stay competitive in the future.

Trend #4: Move Beyond Being a Motivational Speaker

An ongoing trend is that motivational speakers will continue to struggle. You have all heard me say  “Motivation is cheap and action is priceless.

And what I've observed in the past year in the speaking industry is that motivational speakers are becoming less and less relevant because people can find motivation anywhere.

Remember, we have trend number one where people are looking for a return on investment, they want a transformation and they're looking for an engaging presentation.

If you are currently marketing yourself as a motivational speaker, I encourage you to reposition your messaging and how you talk about your speaking. You want to avoid becoming irrelevant as well as avoid all of the competition for motivational speaking that is out there, so you should number one, niche down.

Pick a market or two, an audience or two, and be all about that group.

It will be easier for you to be a motivational speaker for actuaries or a motivational speaker for real estate agents than it will just be for you to be a motivational speaker in general.

Really pick a niche or two and go after that audience.

One of the things that I have noticed with all my clients, even the ones who aren't necessarily motivational speakers, if they have a specific niche, they do very well. They have a very profitable business.

After you have your marketing attuned to your audience, the next step is to make your motivation actionable.

It's time to figure out how your message can produce results.

If people are looking for a return on investment from attending an event, it is your job to figure out how your speech, your story, your experiences can change and transform the audience.

Inspiration is groovy and all, but action is extraordinary and it's what gets you paid and booked.

One of the things that I do for speakers all the time is help them reposition their message. If you want to make your message more marketable while you transition away from calling yourself a motivational speaker, you should book a strategy session with me because it will be a priceless way to move your speaking forward. And you can do that at

Trend #5: Selling from the Stage Faces Its Slow Demise

My favorite trend, and it is a trend I've noticed over the past couple of years, is that selling from the stage continues its slow decline.

What I have noticed is that even though there are multiple speaking gurus out there telling you how you can sell from the stage to make all of this money, selling from the stage is really going out of style.

Obviously,  the first couple of trends we've talked about have a lot to do with this. Audiences want a return on investment. They want a great engaging experience.

Conferences and meetings and associations have picked up on this trend, and so their contracts are actually saying now that you cannot sell from the stage.

In addition, our audiences are getting savvier and savvier and they can smell a formula a mile away and they know when a pitch is coming.  This means that they know when they can check out or leave your presentation because people don't like to be pitched to. We don't like to be sold to. It ruins our experience at the event, right?

And most importantly, speakers don't enjoy selling from the stage, for the most part. It takes a very special sort of speaker to be really good at selling from the stage. So the fact that this is going out of vogue is great news if you speak to promote your business.

So how do you stay on top of this trend?

Well, you do what I call a speech to convert. This is where we really view the speech itself as a first date with the audience: where they're getting to know you and the whole goal is to get them to go out on a second date with you.

The best way we can do this is to learn from our colleagues in digital marketing, where we make an offer at the end of the speech that is totally free.  Then, if they take advantage of it this leads them into a nurture sequence where they're developing a relationship with you. Then you make an offer, you have an ask at the end of that sequence.

Stay on Top of the Big Five Trends for the Speaking Industry

So, those are the five big trends that I'm seeing.

Number one, audiences are seeking a return on investment from attending an event.

Number two, presentations need to be more and more engaging in innovative ways.

Crowdsourcing speakers as a part of the selection process are growing in popularity.

Number four, motivational speakers, I'm sorry. You will continue to struggle to book and get paid unless you reposition your expertise.

And finally number five, that selling from the stage is in its slow decline. Wahoo! Very excited.

If you stay out in front of these industry trends, you can keep making a difference. You can keep speaking and getting paid.

And one of the best ways to stay out in front of the trends is to book a Speak for Impact strategy session with me so that we can discuss what you want your speaking to achieve for you, your business, and your audience in 2018, and map out a plan to do just that. Go to to schedule your session.

And remember, I feel like Ferris Bueller when I say this:

The speaking industry moves pretty fast. If you don't stay on top of it, your speaking business will suffer. But if you're able to adapt and change, your business will thrive.

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