Whether you’re planning a small sales meeting with your team or preparing for a national conference, guest speakers need to stay aware of the latest trends to appear — and remain — innovative. More importantly, they need to be able to adapt to changing audience preferences and technologies to ensure their speeches are engaging and memorable.
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Which motivational speaking trends will impact how relevant your presentations are? Which ones will limit — or open up — future opportunities? Here are six areas that need your attention.
Organizers want speakers who deliver more than a speech
Conference organizers want to work with motivational speakers who are knowledgeable, inspiring, and capable of providing their audience with actionable takeaways. That’s a given. Simultaneously, event coordinators are looking for presenters who will partner with them, not just deliver a speech and leave.
Organizers are looking for speakers who will help them promote the event via their own platforms. This way, their built-in audience can become aware of the speaking engagement and make plans to attend or promote its value to others who could benefit. They also want speakers who will allow them to film keynotes so they can be distributed and shared with those who couldn’t attend.
The holy grail? Some sales motivational speakers I know will host a meet-and-greet prior to their presentation. It’s a simple and powerful way to build a stronger connection with an audience. It also helps the presenter create more personalized content. Organizers would be thrilled if a speaker stuck around to mingle or have dinner with important clients.
Audiences demand participation and connection from speakers
The days of formal presentations, where an audience sat silently in an auditorium-like venue listening to an individual talk for an hour, are fading. Instead, attendees are demanding smaller, more conversational presentations. This makes the speaker seem more approachable and authentic.
This also encourages more interaction with audience members, enabling them to ask questions and share feedback. Speakers can incorporate live surveys and even get a little creative using the setup. For example, an event could ditch the standard seating structure, such as a ballroom layout or a roundtable setup, and go with a lounge setting. Likewise, the event could be held outside, allowing participants to sit on bean-bag chairs, hay bales, or smart benches.
People love the TED experience
The debate on ideal session length rages on. Audiences crave shorter talks, where they can attend snappier sessions held by diverse speakers, which is more in line with the TED experience.
On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to present an innovative idea and get the audience to put that idea into practice in only 20 or 30 minutes. In reality, you’ll need anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
It may not be feasible to host a TED Talk-style conference, limiting speakers to 20-minute talks. However, presentations are getting shorter. It’s now the norm for a one-hour standard presentation to be replaced by multiple 30- or 45-minute sessions.
If a talk does deserve more time, facilitators may want to break up the speech into parts. For example, an hour-long presentation could be divided into two 30-minute sessions, with a break in between.
Presentations need to be visual
Your audience didn’t RSVP to your conference or seminar just to read your slides. They could have done that at home. They want to be engaged and entertained, and the best way is by skipping text-laden PowerPoints.
That’s not to say that PowerPoints are banned. It means limiting your text to 10 words or fewer and using more visual content like pictures, infographics, and videos. This not only holds the audience’s attention, but visual aids also create a compelling story and reinforce your message. In fact, according to the 2018 State of Attention Report, the key to engaging content is a compelling story and the use of visuals.
The most important takeaway: Don’t overdo your visuals. They should be clean and easily scannable, adding meaning to your story or concept.
Organizations and speakers need to keep up with the speed of change
The world is rapidly speeding up: Just look at how a business model or new gadget becomes obsolete in a year. Organizations must respond accordingly.
For starters, planners focus on creating events that address emerging trends, innovations, and strategies. This empowers an event’s audience to stay up-to-date on the latest disruptions and prepare for them. The best speakers help them envision how to pre-empt or get ahead of a major industry disruption.
That increased pace doesn’t just apply to innovations — speakers can expect to be booked much faster, too. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to be booked for a speaking gig a year in advance. However, because we live in a high-velocity world, the planned talk may no longer be relevant. That means coordinators are booking speakers only months prior, ensuring their discussion will be significant and timely.
What’s more, in order to stay ahead in a world of change, speakers need to provide specific solutions. While there’s still room for inspirational speakers, it’s become increasingly important for the audience to walk away with actionable steps to answer their real-world questions.
Finally, both event planners and presenters need to stay current on technology. For example, while PowerPoint is still a popular tool for sharing information, a variety of tools like ClearSlide, Keynote, and Prezi allow anyone to create dazzling presentations on their smartphones.
And don’t dismiss the virtual realm. In order to save money and dive deeper into a talent pool, organizations are looking for speakers who provide online content, webinars, and virtual coaching.
The message needs to be reinforced
For an event to be successful, it has to promise lasting results. In other words, attendees must leave the event able to implement what they’ve learned. As such, it’s the responsibility of the speaker to guide attendees in making the concepts stick.
This could be done by showing a pre-event video to establish a connection and then surveying the audience after. You can also hand out reference materials, like infographics, for everyone to take home. To save on paper, let audience members know where they can access more in-depth information online.
If you want to connect with your audience and ensure your presentations — and your preferred events — remain relevant, act on the trends above. Focus on keeping your audience engaged, remaining aware of disruptions, and reinforcing an event’s message. You’ll not only remain relevant but also earn more audiences to speak to.