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Latest Meeting Trends: 6 Observations from Speaker Bureaus

The inquiries that bureaus are receiving from planners reveal changes to meetings in the post-pandemic environment.

A recent article on picks the brains of interesting players in the meetings and events world: talent agencies and speaker bureaus. As they field inquiries from planners for speakers, presenters, moderators, and hosts for upcoming events, the agencies and bureaus are finding planners’ needs and desires to be different than what they were asking for in early 2020, when the industry was last at full strength.

Some of the observations from the talent agencies and speaker bureaus include:

  • The huge pent-up desire for attendees to catch up with colleagues is requiring that meeting sessions be shorter, giving people more time in between sessions for social interaction.
  • Speakers must be skilled enough to make their sessions more of a discussion than a one-way presentation. They need to get their critical points across but augment those with audience perspectives.
  • Virtual events will remain even after in-person gatherings get back to something resembling “normal.” Bureaus and agencies are increasingly fielding requests for speakers to appear at both the in-person event and a follow-up virtual event for a wider audience, given that some attendees won’t want to travel due to Covid concerns or to avoid the potential complications of air travel right now.
  • Organizations are conducting reinforcement of the in-person meeting message through their speakers, who host a virtual meeting several weeks after the in-person event – an “accountability check-in” or pep talk based on attendee feedback and data collected after the in-person event.
  • Lead times are shorter, with agencies and bureaus seeing the typical six- to nine-month booking window shrinking to as little as 8 to 12 weeks.
  • Because of the importance of getting people back together combined with the potential for necessary last-minute changes, planners seem to have the ear of their executive stakeholders more than before.
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