9 speaking industry trends to watch in 2023.

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9 Speaking Industry Trends to Watch in 2023.

Each new year brings new challenges and opportunities for speakers. We’re already a couple months into 2023 and things are changing fast. While the outlook for many industries might seem bleak from an economic perspective, there is a lot to get excited about and a lot to learn.  In this piece we’ll go over some of the most important 2023 speaking and events industry trends that should have speakers, event planners, and industry professionals paying attention. 

The speaking industry took a hit during the height of COVID, but with the help of technology, virtual events helped it bounce back. Some speakers made it big delivering talks from the comfort of their homes. Others–along with their audiences–have eagerly embraced a return to some form of normal. Workplace shifts like the great resignation and mass layoffs are radically altering the landscape for many industries. 

In light of the pandemic’s lingering effects and concerns about the economy and workforce, many people are understandably discouraged. Depending on what sorts of news and media you consume, you might think the world is coming to an end for your business, your industry, or all of us. Not the most thrilling prospect! Yes, there is a lot of change and uncertainty in the air, but all is not lost! Amidst all the noise, there’s a lot of nuance and some hope. We’re here to clear up what it all means for speakers at any stage in their career journey and how you can get ready to make 2023 your best speaking year yet. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran speaker, these trending speaking topics, industry shifts, and global influences are all worth keeping an eye on in the upcoming year. 

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  1. In person events are back.

    And there’s a lot of catching up to do. Stats show that the speaking and events world is reaching pre-COVID levels of busyness throughout the year. This is undeniably great news not just for speakers, but for humans in general. People have been starved for human connection and community big time–even the most informative virtual event is a poor substitute for a warm handshake and a cold drink with friends. Some innovative speakers used virtual events as a launching point for their business and are just now joining the ranks of conventional events. As a result, there will be many new faces at events that have traditionally acted as “watering holes” for speakers looking to build their network. All things considered, being able to see our favorite audiences and speaker  friends face-to-face once more is one of the best things about 2023.

  2. Virtual is here to stay.

    While many bigger events and conferences will return with gusto, virtual events are still taken very seriously. Many professions have a regular cycle of frequent workshop-style events– like renewing certifications throughout the year or at a certain point in one’s career. Organizers in these spaces have figured out that these types of events are more easily delivered and accessible in a virtual setting. Does your industry include certification programs? Are you eager for a break from traveling? Consider making that an avenue to offer your speaking services. If you enjoy course and content creation, consider partnerships to help develop online trainings, courses, and continuing education. The virtual speaking trend may have been forced upon us by unfortunate circumstances, but it’s not going anywhere!

  3. The economy is hitting everyone hard.

    We won’t ignore the elephant in the room. Rampant inflation, threats of recession, and the after-effects of stalled business during COVID affect every industry. An uncertain economy is a tough spot for a speaker (and any entrepreneur), so it’s essential to keep its effects in mind when covering 2023 speaking industry trends. But speakers are scrappy, and we are confident that opportunities are lying in wait even in grim circumstances. Here are three key ramifications of the economy that we expect to see in the speaking industry this year:

    • Budgets are tighter. Events will be turning to automation and tech to avoid paying a high price for personnel. At the same time, the onus will be on event planners to provide extremely high value to event attendees who purchase expensive tickets.  
    • The world is in focus. A lot of business leaders are thinking about the economy, politics, and conflict at a worldwide scale. Our increasingly globalized society requires it, but that doesn’t make these topics easy to understand. If you can speak about economics, global affairs, and cybersecurity, your expertise will be in high demand. Audiences need someone who can distill global events and point toward their implications in terms they understand. 
    • Unexpected audiences need speakers. Industries like IT are suffering, and events in those spaces will suffer too. On the other hand, even with tighter budgets, people are flocking to the travel, hospitality, and service industries to make up for time lost during COVID. Repackaging your talk–whether it’s on workplace culture, employee retention and recruitment, marketing, you name it–for those industries that are seeing growth could help you flourish in a lean year.
  4. COVID shed the spotlight on essential workers.

    While many industries ground to a halt or hung in limbo for months, some continued to function at high speed. The pressure placed on essential fields like healthcare, delivery, and utilities. In turn, this pressure exposed many difficulties in areas that otherwise don’t receive a lot of attention. Whether those difficulties were pre-existing or arose during COVID, leaders and employees alike need guidance moving forward. Do you speak about coping with burnout, human dynamics, or workplace morale? Consider turning your sights on speaking gigs for essential businesses, workers, and leaders.

  5. Workplace relations are in dire need of attention.

    Quiet quitting. Mass layoffs. Return-to-work mandates. The relationship between bosses and employees is somewhat fraught to say the least. Speaking is all about offering solutions, and many workplaces are struggling to compromise. Whether in keynotes to CEOs or workshops for HR professionals, speakers can offer guidance for fostering a healthy workplace while maintaining productivity. Are you a consultant as well as a speaker? This 2023 speaking industry trend is good news for you! Audience members in need of a corporate culture overhaul will be especially receptive when you pitch your services for helping implement the solutions you speak about.

  6. The future of work is looming.

    Even if you haven’t seen the TikToks poking fun at the generational differences in the workplace, big changes are happening. New topics and concerns are coming to the forefront. Big changes in the next few years that will radically disrupt the workforce as we know it. Tens of millions of people will retire in the next decade. Gen Z will soon make up ⅓ of the workforce. On top of all that, technology (see #7) and the shift toward remote work has encouraged many people and businesses alike to question traditional attitudes. Offices, hiring practices, and work-life balance are all fair game! Speakers will play a huge role in ushering in the future of work, especially when it comes to helping business leaders visualize the implications.

  7. Tech topics are all the rage.

    There’s a lot of buzz about Artificial Intelligence, Web3, and the Metaverse. Some audiences are already familiar with these topics and keen to keep innovating to stay fresh. Others are hesitant, skeptical, or simply uninformed, especially about the business applications. All of the above need speakers who understand these technologies, especially their applications to particular industries. Because these topics are novel and popular, it’s important to define your niche well when you market yourself. Here are a few topic ideas to get you started as a pioneer in this exciting space!

    • Proposing ethical best practices to a business who uses AI or virtual reality already.
    • Introducing novel software and technology to companies whose tech is a few years (or decades) outdated.
    • Pioneering new ways to apply as yet unregulated and untapped technological resources.
  8. DEI is more important than ever.

    Google searches (alongside general interest) in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion have skyrocketed since 2020. From small businesses to multinational corporations, more and more organizations are committing to fostering these ideals. Some have already laid the foundations for this process. Others might share passion and principles, but lack a roadmap to implementing them. Still others will need pointers on why DEI is even applicable to their field. Speakers can offer inspiration for setting and hitting goals for all of these audiences. Correspondingly, demand for leading DEI trainings and workshops–virtually or in person–will skyrocket. This is great news especially for speakers who prefer smaller, more personalized engagements and corporate clients. If this is your area of expertise, 2023 is offering a lot of potential. And listen up. This isn’t your area of expertise but you see a need within your field for more DEI education? Consider pivoting to learn more and bring others along with you on the journey. We have a podcast to help you with that right here.

  9. The future is green.

    Like DEI, sustainability is part of what’s called ESG– Environmental, Social, and Governance issues. Consumers are demanding corporations create roadmaps for adopting sustainable practices. Even small businesses are faced with small choices that could have big environmental impacts like packaging and printing. While the most well-known sustainability events are major international conventions, it’s starting to trickle down fast. This is a huge new niche for speakers who care about ethics and the earth to hone in on for the upcoming year.

Conclusion

Overall, there are lots of things to look forward to in 2023. At the same time, the prominence of new technology, ESG, and economic concerns is ushering in some unfamiliar territory.

So what’s a speaker to do?

Here’s the scoop: Clarity is the hottest speaker trait for the coming year. Solving a specific problem for a specific audience is the best strategy for success as a speaker no matter what you speak about. Get clear on your message, your mission, and your audience before you market yourself. Not only will you pick up more gigs that way, but they will be a better fit for your expertise. 

While they are by no means exclusive, these nine 2023 speaking and events industry trends will help you move with the market and anticipate your audience’s needs. Whether we just blew your mind or you’ve already figured out that the direction your niche is headed, we’re here to help. The Speaker Lab exists to help you gain and maintain momentum in a career that often moves at breakneck speed.  Our founder Grant Baldwin did a podcast recently with Erick Rheam covering the state of the speaking industry for 2023. In this episode, Grant and Erick cover many of these upcoming speaking trends and offer tips for speakers in every stage of their career journey going into the year. Give it a listen here!

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