As a professional speaker and someone who works to get paid work for speakers, I was happy to see the latest report from Meetings Outlook for the speaking industry forecast for 2018. The survey showed a majority of experts in the meeting and event industry said they predict 2018 will be a good one for growth.

One reason speakers have been struggling with free and low fee gigs is because supply has been greater than demand. But for the first time in years, demand is starting to curve slightly in favor of supply.

Over half predict favorable business conditions and slightly higher budgets in the new year. Live attendance is expected to grow approximately 1.6%. Still not enough to have full employment for speakers, but definitely a trend in the right direction. More demand than supply will also mean higher fees for speakers who are working.

According to IBTM World, the industry’s leading showcase of meetings, incentives, conferences and events, “there is significant optimism among meeting and event planners”. This is based on their Trends Watch Report, which was compiled using 25 key sources of industry data.

It seems diversity and inclusion will be on the minds of meeting planners in 2018 according to IMEX. “We at IMEX have experienced the rising importance of diversity in the industry, particularly around women in the workplace and career advancement.” The idea of having more women and minority speakers had been debated for years. Maybe it’s finally trending in that direction.

According to the 2018 SITE Index more than half of planners think their incentive travel budgets will increase. But that doesn’t mean they won’t still be watching their budget. Most will still remain frugal about unnecessary spending, especially as the costs of everything will be going up.

This means as a speaker you would be wise to continue giving meeting planners the best return possible on their investment. Even though demand is trending upward, they will still be looking for the best value for their audience.

 

 

 

Anyone who is in the meeting and event industry already has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening, but it’s always good to look at some statistics on paper to confirm it. The more speakers know about future trends in the meeting industry, the better prepared they will be when a meeting planner calls. Or how to get the meeting planner to call in the first place.

According to the Meeting Professionals International, the industry is moving from a sellers market to a buyers market. For now, it still remains squarely in the middle, which is a much better place to be than strictly a sellers market, at least for speakers.

68.2% are optimistic about the industry in 2017, or at least expect no negative change. Half of government meeting planners and international planners expect conditions to be worse. They expect attendance at live events to rise in 2017, and a full 23% of organizations that hire meeting professionals to increase their employees.

Here’s some very good news for speakers. According to the Destination Hotels’ survey, 37% of respondents say they have more money to spend on meetings in 2017, 57% have the same amount, and 30% say they will be planning more meetings. The extra money may not be spent all on one meeting, but will be spread out among more meetings, giving more speakers more paid speaking opportunities.

One trend that is catching on is the experiential meeting. Hands-on learning is making a comeback, along with using different styles of learning for audiences who want their information in visual, auditory, and kinesthetic ways. Remember that when you plan your speech, and consider creative ways to integrate your sponsor within them.

Security is the number one topic on a meeting planner’s mind. According to the MPI report, “Forty-eight percent of respondents to the quarterly survey said they expected the costs of meetings to rise due to the need for greater security. Forty-four percent reported that they anticipated changes to the meeting and event industry due to the increasing prevalence and threat of terrorism. Cyber security is also a big concern for meeting planners.

Planning Pod, a top events blog, feels that niche events will become a hot trend in 2017. “events focused on smaller niche audiences to sub-events or tracks focused on select attendees to smaller sessions and audience sizes, events that are micro-focused will start gaining more momentum as attendees want more personalized experiences and seek out more intimate settings to learn and connect.” This is even more of a good reason for speakers to start honing in on their niche.

Building better relationships with the audience is going to become more important to meeting planners. More time will be spent getting to know who the audience is and what they want. As a speaker who is looking for sponsorship, this is important to you as well. If you’re asked to speak for free, hopefully the meeting planner will be willing to share some of that info with you so you can maximize your sponsor’s ROI. After all, sponsors are interested in who is in the audience, and not so much what you speak about.