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The good news about professional speaking in these Corona crisis. (Professional Speaking. Episode 280.)

April 30, 2020 By Fredrik Haren

Four different events this week have made me feel that the people who book speakers are now getting serious about moving keynote speeches online.

When the Coronavirus hit the world a lifetime ago (well, ok, two months ago or so, but you know what I mean) speakers started to see their bookings being cancelled as conferences got shut down. The professional speaking world got ready for some lean times. The longer the crisis goes on the more obvious it becomes that the time for large gatherings of groups of people is still far off.

That is the bad news. (Especially for the MICE industry.)

The good news is that it seems that clients have drastically shifted their views on virtual keynotes

And before you start filling the comment field with comments like “This is nothing new: I have been doing webinars for X weeks/months/years” please read the whole post. ;) 

Some clients have booked virtual speakers for ages. And some clients were faster than others to shift to virtual conferences/speeches. (Fun fact: I became a professional speaker in 1995 and played around with streaming video content in 1998 (Yes, 22 years ago! We were actually the representative of Vxtreme, one of the world’s first video streaming software (we are talking streaming video on modems here (!)…)

So, yes, “video content streamed on the Internet” is nothing new, but what IS new, is how clients are much more actively looking into how virtual speeches can help solve their problems of inspiring their people.

After being a keynote speaker for 25 years, is that the sentiment of the clients has changed from virtual keynotes being something fringe and not very interesting to now being the go-to solution.

Most likely that comes from a mix of:

– Embracing reality (the in-real-life conference they had planned just is not going to happen for a while)

– Higher acceptance of Zoom, WebEx etc as tools that actually can be used for keynote delivery

Virtual keynotes going mainstream is a game-changer. And I feel this week is the week that “booking speakers for virtual keynotes” went from “once in a blue moon” to “a normal way to book a speaker”.

This week I have gotten one request per day for a (paid) virtual keynote speech. And here is the key insight: I did NOT push or promote virtual speeches to any of these clients. The demand came from them. That’s why this week is remarkable, I think. Suddenly many more of the clients are ready.

Speakers should be aware of that I think. (And no, that does not mean that I think traditional keynotes are dead. When we are allowed to meet in big groups again there will be a huge demand to catch up with other humans in real life and I am guessing record numbers of attendees for many conferences. And that might happen quicker than we think – or it might take longer than we think.)

The good news is that “virtual keynotes” just went from “fringe” to “normal”.

This week is the week that that change happened.

As a speaker are you ready for what that means?

(I would love to hear if you are seeing the same change happening. Let me know in the comments.)

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