“It may have taken a few months, but the transition from LIVE keynote to VIRTUAL keynote speech became mainstream by last June or so. And while speaker fees for virtual events were heavily discounted coming out of the gate, those numbers have slowly risen back up to their in-person fee counterparts.
Why the fee increase? Motivational speakers, Leadership speakers, Business futurists and even Corporate entertainers felt that the virtual platform gave a presenter the ability to get even closer to an audience member than an in-person event. And the preparation for these online programs was many times more labor intensive than at live meetings in recent years. The advent of using virtual as a tool to expand a speaker’s program gave companies the ability to expand their breadth of invitation to these events as well—and Sales Meetings quickly became All-Company meetings wherein a keynote speaker would many times need to prepare a much different program for the end user.
The fact is though that some fees for the most expensive speakers are still showing heavy discounts of as much as 50% from their live pricing schedules. And armed with that knowledge, meeting professionals are preparing to bring hybrid meetings to a new level once things get back to the new normal. The hybrid meeting from a speaker’s perspective at a 2-day conference could have a LIVE keynote speaker to kickoff a meeting on Day 1, and then the morning of Day 2 your audience may have the chance to interact with Simon Sinek or Magic Johnson virtually on the big screen. The interaction level certainly wouldn’t be the same from a selfie or an autograph perspective, but it will certainly be doable to have autographed books or memorabilia shipped to your meeting venue from that speaker in advance of the event itself. And while you may say to yourself “not ANOTHER zoom event AT our conference!” realize that mainstream attendees have gotten quite used to the virtual platform over the last 12 months and seeing a HUGE screen with Michael Strahan or Robin Roberts talking right to you and taking live questions as if they were there would be acceptable as the norm. Plus your company is saving up to $100,000 on speaker fees (not including hefty airfare and suite costs).
A neat twist to this future of meetings was posed to us today by a customer in the copier industry: a 2-wave conference. A few years back, our IBM customer was famous for hosting a few thousand attendees in Hawaii in the Spring time for Annual Leadership and Incentive meetings. Since IBM typically had more invitations (and more attendees) than their contracted hotel could hold for one meeting, they would have 3 or 4 waves of identical meetings over a month period of time. And typically on the days that one group was leaving and another was arriving, there was a bit of a crossover experience so a keynote speaker could effectively speak to 2 of those groups at once. But the idea was basically that these identical meetings had identical agendas so an attendee at Meeting #1 got exactly the same food, gifts, hospitality, outings—and of course, speakers—that an attendee at Meeting #4 experienced.
But with attendance size restrictions in place at many hotels in 2021 and 2022, the idea of the separate waves of meetings may come back stronger than ever. And while it may be a pricey undertaking for a meeting professional, the possibility of having your keynote speaker on-site at your hotel for not one—but possibly 2 or 3 speeches over a week’s time—could be a major plus for your company. Your attendees would see the speaker around your hotel during the week, your speaker would be invited to receptions and events with the company that normally they’d not have the time to attend, and the messages shared with your attendees by that speaker would be given a better opportunity to resonate. And know that your speaker will be willing to discount a multiple speech opportunity for your company.
We’re excited to see what the future holds for keynote speakers and entertainment at meetings. Let me know when we can discuss your specific upcoming agendas. Call or text us anytime at (310) 614-8653. “