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What Clients Want: Events Industry Trends in a New Era

With nearly a year of booking speaking engagements in the ‘new normal’, we here at Speakers’ Spotlight have been grateful to collaborate with clients and work through adapting to the changing landscape of events, workshops, and conferences. We wanted to take an opportunity to share some of the insights we’ve garnered through this time—insights that should be helpful for speakers and event planners alike.

Our President and Co-Founder, Martin Perelmuter, spoke at the recent Canadian Association of Professional Speakers Virtual Convention as part of a segment titled “What Clients Want.” Below are several video excerpts from his presentation, along with point-form summaries of some of Martin’s major points.

What Clients Want

  • This is a three-way partnership between the event organizer, the speaker, and Speakers’ Spotlight. The ultimate goal is to create the most impactful presentation experience possible.
  • A good speaker should understand these key questions: What does the organizer want to achieve? What’s the purpose of the event? How can you add value? Our role is to help communicate the answers to these.
  • We want to help make sure that the presentation will be facilitating positive change. It’s important to be doing more than “filling slots in a schedule.” Clients want a great presentation that impacts people’s behaviour and gives them useful takeaways. We do what we can to make this a reality.

Pricing

  • At the beginning of the pandemic we saw speakers cutting fees by 50% or more in some cases. Since then things have picked up significantly and the gap between pre-pandemic fees and current fees has closed substantial, but there are still some.
  • Martin had several conversations with speakers at the beginning of the pandemic regarding fees. Some speakers felt that there should be no distinction between in person and virtual presentations when it comes to pricing. Martin disagrees with this approach. As he sees it, the difference in time commitment from an in-person event – which can often take up to two days of travel time – and virtual engagements creates an argument for an adjustment in speaking engagement fees.
  • It’s important to have some compassion for what others are going through and avoid rigidity in what people are thinking. Everyone is learning and adjusting as we go through this time. A bit of flexibility is key to success.

Diversity

  • The biggest long-term trend that we’ve seen is the increase of diversity in speakers and programming for events and conferences.
  • Social justice issues are very much top of mind. Clients are looking to book more women and more people of colour, to have a wider range of voices and experiences on “stage.”
  • This is the most important trend in the meetings industry at the moment, even more so than the major shift to virtual and hybrid events long-term.
  • It’s a long overdue trend and Martin is happy to finally see it happening.

Criteria for Selecting Speakers

  • A few topics stand out as the most popular categories at the moment:
    • Resiliency, health & wellness, mental health—subjects to help people get through this difficult time.
    • Innovation and disruption—how to lead through chaos and adapt to the ongoing transformation of business.
    • Communication—how do you better communicate and build trust in a wholly virtual/remote setting.
  • For speakers: the baseline for a good speaker is an expert in their field who is a great presenter. What’s becoming increasingly clear is that event organizers are drawn to speakers that are easy to work with, collaborative, and willing to go with the flow. Speakers who are more interested in their own gratification or driven by ego may find some success, but for long-term success it’s key to put the client first.

We’re continuing to learn and adapt, eager to find our path in this new normal and to keep connecting our clients with the fantastic speakers on our roster. Visit our Virtual Events page to learn more about the process of hosting your own virtual sessions. We also have an archive of summaries from our free-to-attend Virtual Speaker Series, which include clips from each session showing what is possible from virtual engagements. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.