Aristotle once said “Man is, by nature, a social animal”. Humans are most comfortable when we’re connected and sharing our emotions. When we’re face to face we’re able to match each others emotions instantly, without even realizing we’re doing it. That is something you can’t completely get on a Zoom call.

Digital Meetings

In a survey from the Professional Convention Management Association, 62% of meeting planners said they did not feel that digital meetings would cannibalize live meetings and events, but would exist with them side by side.

I was just reading over a post I published in January regarding the insight of live meetings and events in 2020. It said that 70% of meeting planners had a very positive feeling about the state of meetings in 2020. What a difference 3 months makes!

That goes to show that you simply can’t predict the future based on statistics and surveys. Because the future will always change, and life is very unpredictable.

Popular Speech Topics

There were a few things that still are relevant in the post. Health and wellness were predicted to be a big topic. That is even more important today than it was 3 months ago. Another thing that was listed is that most planners believed that technology would play a bigger role. That has literally been forced on meeting planners as many events have had to go online.

Just 3 months ago I was being hired by corporations to help companies recruit and retain employees. Unemployment was the lowest it had been in 50 years and even companies that were paying great salaries and had wonderful benefits were having a very hard time finding employees. Management was complaining that applicants would come in and demand everything for the highest salary possible. That literally changed overnight as 26 million people lost their jobs.

Speak for Free

Everything in life shifts back and forth from buyer to seller, then back again with each having the stronger position. Speakers, who were finally getting past the whole “speak for free” thing, are now thrown into a tailspin as meeting planners have their own issues to deal with in regards to cancellations and safety issues. As much as speakers may be stressed about the situation, meeting planners are also dealing with uncertainty and a never-ending process of putting out fires.

Virtual for Now

Zoom calls and live streaming are perfect for where we are now. That does not mean all meetings and events will be online forever.

Live meetings and events have been shut down before in history and they may be again. But human beings are social animals who crave the closeness of others. And that will never change.

Normally meeting planners need lead times that allow them to be able to book hotels, book speakers, book travel, and all of the other millions of things that go into planning an event. But right now with the COVID-19 crisis most are spending their time just putting out fires.

Meeting planner lead times

I was wondering if this recent crisis has changed lead times at all. Here are answers from a couple of meeting and event planners:

“This is an unprecedented time in the meetings and events industry. While past crises like 9/11 and the 2008 recession have affected a similar pivot to virtual events, each pivot was an aberration. In this case, however, we’re seeing a real paradigm shift.

The digital platforms and integrations we’re leveraging to get us through this crisis are here to stay. Events will be increasingly integrated across channels, and everyone from business leaders and event marketers to speakers and sponsors will need to adjust for that. While that’s no small challenge, of course, we expect it to lead to improved audience engagement over time.

This crisis has driven an increasing number of clients to adopt a campaign-oriented planning cycle, rather than a one-off event cycle. That’s a very good thing. In practice, this involves assessing all the content that clients intended to deliver at their live programs and transforming it into a more pulsed series of communications across many platforms. The result is that, in collaboration with our clients, we’re developing more robust communications plans that engage their employees, customers, and partners — not just for a couple days but in a way that is sustained over time.”

Jill Tanner, SVP, Creative Design and Marketing at InVision Communications

www.iv.com

Flexibility for meeting planners

“I am the CEO and co-founder of Spacebase, the leading online B2B platform
for unique meeting rooms and event locations, and I think the main change
to planning corporate events will be flexibility. Currently, the crisis is
constantly changing and updating, so event planning must accommodate and
reflect this. We are working with space providers to enable longer
cancellation periods or to postpone events.

Whenever the end point is, there is sure to be an immediate significant
influx in last minute event bookings, for businesses to regroup. At the
moment, we are encouraging our bookers to rent rooms and plan for this
further in advance, with a flexible event date. Looking forward, I think
this flexibility will stay. Whether the lead times are longer or shorter,
they will have more room for change and adaptations.”

CEO and Co-Founder Julian Jost
Spacebase
www.spacebase.com

Have you seen any changes in meeting planner lead times?

As a speaker it’s hard to know exactly what meeting planners need and how you can best provide it. Unless you ask. That’s exactly what Meetings and Conventions magazine did recently. They polled 117 meeting planners to find out their thoughts on the perfect speaker. Here’s what they had to say:

91% of meeting planners said that relevance to their audience was at the top of the list when it came to picking a speaker. That makes sense. The audience is really all that matters. They’re the ones paying the fee to the conference and they expect to get what they pay for. Great content that speaks to them.

So, as a speaker, instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, go straight to the audiences who will really, really like you. I know we would like to be able to speak to anyone and everyone, but it’s better to play to your strengths and get in front of those audiences you’re already perfect for. And the ones you prefer speaking to.

Next on the list was cost. 71% of speakers will book a speaker based on cost. 34% pay less than $5,000, 13% don’t pay speakers at all, and 53% pay between 5 and $50,000. On the list of speakers everyone agreed they liked the most, most of them were at the celebrity level. But less than 10% of meeting planners were hiring them.

As far as the type of keynote topics they prefer, industry related was at the top, with motivational still pretty strong. It seems like there are far fewer general topics than there were in the previous years. There are a lot more regulatory speakers than previous years, especially with changes in healthcare. So if you’re a specialized speaker in an industry-related topic, you’re probably going to be in demand. Looks like the light and fluffy stuff is out for now.

Knowing that this is what they’re looking for, is there a way you can brush up on those in-demand industry topics and maybe even integrate them into what you have now? Is there a certification course you can master to make yourself more employable?

Unemployed people in the job market are having to do the same thing. Just like them, every day is a job search for us too.