7 Trends to Watch in Speaking/Events in 2023

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Ready to get back to in-person events? You’re not alone! While we had to hunker down in 2020 and much of 2021, last year we started to see some light at the end of the tunnel with people attending events. And now that it’s 2023? Let’s gooo! As we look at the months ahead of us, what does the future hold for speaking and events? Consider this my “part crystal ball and part rearview mirror” look at what’s happening with events. Here are 7 trends we’re seeing:

  • As my Gen Z family members would say: It’s all about the VIBE. There is a liveliness and excitement that comes with in-person events that can’t be underestimated. The ambiance of a fun/interesting conference is very different from the sterileness of an online event. And people are ready to gather in person!
  • We all know that networking is king, and what better way to do that than in-person? Yes, there’s the awkward formal networking at events (Hi my name is ___. What’s yours?). But even better: the impromptu opportunities that come with striking up a conversation with a stranger next to you in line for coffee, or the person sitting next to you before the keynote starts. Stay off your phone and talk to those around you. I’ve personally hired a writer, met and have stayed in touch with a fashion influencer, and become friends with people I’ve met through casual conversations at events. You just never know.
  • Many events felt the pain of Covid through losing sponsorship dollars. What we’re seeing now is that many are trying to make up for it and they aren’t giving things away for free. In some cases, events are pushing more for a pay-to-play model with speaking opportunities. But to be sure… sponsored sessions do not have the same caché or even respect as earned/non-sponsored sessions.
  • Just a few of the most popular topics we’re seeing in 2023 event programming: AI (including Chat GPT), Future of Work, DEI, Metaverse/XR/AR, Blockchain, among others.
  • We continue to see events push for diversity in speaker lineups, creating more inclusive events. Thankfully, “manels” (all-male panels) are a thing of the past for most events.
  • The recession could make a dent in a few ways: Companies limiting travel to events, smaller activations, fewer splashy giveaways, fewer investments in sponsoring events. The takeaway: Focus on the events that matter. Don’t cut them out entirely – events are still an important piece of the marketing pie – but know where your target audiences will be and meet them there.
  • Virtual events saved the day during 2020 and into 2021. Today, hybrid events are table stakes for most events – allowing people to choose if they travel or not. If you want to hear specific talks, attending virtually can be ok – but see bullet points 1 and 2. Nothing beats attending events in person.

We’re excited to see what 2023 brings for events and speaking in particular. We’d love to hear what predictions you have for this year. Need help securing speaking placements? Or just want to say hi? Reach us at [email protected].

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