Jack Hayes reveals how Covid-19 has shaped the keynote speaking industry

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Jack Hayes, a director at Champions Speakers, reveals in this exciting guest post how the Covid-19 pandemic has shaped the speaking industry into the booming business we see today.

As the co-owner of an events and speaking business, the Covid-19 pandemic forced me and my team to rethink everything we knew about our industry. Many of our pre-booked events were unfortunately postponed or worse cancelled, and the speakers on our roster made the transition to virtual events.

Now we are learning to live with Covid-19, it is clear how the pandemic has shaped the events and speaking industries. From the ongoing popularity of virtual events to the focus on inclusivity, learn how else the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the world of speaking and events.

People Over Profits

In today’s day and age, employees are expecting a higher standard of personal investment from their employers. The pandemic has triggered a mental health crisis, with burnout on the rise more employers than ever are putting people over profits by scheduling mental resilience workshops.

I believe the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted our focus; this is evident in the booking trends of our clients. Every day, business leaders contact The Motivational Speakers Agency to hire emotional wellbeing, teamwork and leadership, and motivational speakers, because they are witnessing a new wave of employees who value workplace culture above all else.

‘The Great Resignation’ defines the wave of people who changed jobs in the last two years. Following the pandemic, people are continuing to re-evaluate their priorities, particularly what they expect from their employer. I am seeing corporate clients respond to this by investing in their workplace culture, with the help of an experienced, results-driven speaker.

Lights, Webcam, Action

In March 2020, my team and I were bombarded with cancellation and postponement requests. It felt like a tsunami, but on the other side of the wave, a new opportunity dawned – virtual events.

Above is a screenshot from the webinar we organised with Lauren Rowles, a Paralympic Gold medallist.

The response from our speakers was incredible. Seemingly overnight, they adapted their services for online streaming platforms like Zoom and Teams. Incredibly, some speakers even crafted interactive activities for audiences to do from the safety of their homes, like polls and Q&As, to make viewers feel part of the magic.

On the other side of the pandemic, I continue to see significant interest in virtual events – compared to in-person conferences, 40% of bookings still request speakers for webinars, though this number is predicted to decrease. Considering the number of businesses that have committed to working from home, the continued interest in virtual events facilitates remote companies.

An Inclusive Future

Aside from appealing to remote companies, virtual events are also more inclusive and accessible than in-person conferences. For people with physical disabilities, like wheelchair users, or mental health struggles, like those with severe anxiety, webinars allow them to attend events from the safety of their own homes.

Additionally, as technology progresses, closed captions and adaptive computers make it easier for those hard of hearing or from the blind community to access the same events as their able-bodied colleagues.

Diversity, equality and inclusion speakers, or DEI speakers, have risen in popularity following the pandemic. More businesses than ever are looking inward and realising that to be on the right side of history, they must improve the diversity, equality, and inclusion within their company. I have witnessed an increased interest in DEI speakers, like the Senior Vice President at WarnerMedia for Equity & Inclusion International, Asif Sadiq.

Innovators for Hire

I touched upon this in the ‘Lights, Webcam, Action’ section, but it deserves further discussion. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I was really impressed by the adaptability and creativity of our speakers. They responded to the increased interest in virtual events by crafting interactive sessions for online audiences, filling the gap of human connection.

Since then, many speakers have continued to adapt and innovate to supply a truly unforgettable experience for clients and audiences alike. This experience has only made our speakers more adept at inspiring innovation in their audience; their lived experience during the pandemic serves as a powerful reminder that every hurdle we face teaches us how to jump higher.

I have received countless phone calls and emails from clients who wish to capture the innovative mindset that our speakers have developed throughout the pandemic. With competition rife, business leaders are turning to innovation speakers to help them stay ahead of the curve and create a workplace culture that nurtures creativity.

Conclusion

Employees want to optimise their time and get more out of their jobs. Feedback from clients has revealed that disengagement and demotivation following the pandemic have plagued employees, particularly those who have come back to the office. To tackle this, corporate events that feature an empowering motivational speaker have proven popular post-pandemic.

Though in-person events have made a comeback, webinars are here to stay. They are hyper-accessible, cost-effective and cater to companies that have embraced remote working. Diversity, equality, and inclusion, as well as workplace culture and mental resilience, continue to be the most popular event topics. I believe this is due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has revealed what the next generation of employees are looking for in an employer.

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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