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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I just arrived home after delivering a keynote speech to 700 executives at the Mega Conference in Austin, TX on the future of newspapers. Part of the speech was about how live events and small business sponsorship are going to be a big part of the future for local newspapers.

The newspaper industry has seen a sharp decline in their small business advertisers in the past few years and have been looking for alternatives to their current business model. Enter… live events.

It wasn’t just me who was talking about live, local events for newspapers. It was a buzz that permeated throughout the conference, and is starting to be seen as a new, additional revenue stream for newspapers.

This is incredibly good news for speakers who are looking to partner with local and regional media for a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s also good news because small businesses are literally an untapped area for sponsorship.

Many small businesses don’t even know about sponsorship. In my experience, small businesses often think that they have to invest millions of dollars to play in that game. But a small business could sponsor a speaker or small, local event for very little. And their return on investment is good because they are reaching a very targeted audience.

The big corporations of the world have been involved in sponsorship for several decades, but small businesses are the new frontier. Big corporate sponsorship has become a very crowded field, making it difficult to break in, especially for a beginner.

I’m encouraged and excited about the direction small business sponsorship is going. Right now, it’s in it’s infancy. But that’s good news for speakers who want to get into a multi-billion dollar industry on the ground floor before it becomes too overcrowded.

Disruption is occurring in all industries. The newspaper industry, like the speaking industry, has had the same business model for many years. And that’s worked just fine… until now. If you don’t learn how to innovate within your industry, you risk being made irrelevant.

But the good news is that opportunities are everywhere. Even in the speaking industry.