What are the current hot topics in public speaking?
Five particular areas seem to be attracting significant interest.
This is not to suggest veering from your True North to talk about a trending topic. You should talk about a subject you’re passionate about.
Besides, by the time you develop the necessary expertise in a given area, it may well have cooled off and not be a prime source of speaking gigs.
Nonetheless, if you can tweak the language describing your speech topic or title to match—even in part—any of these areas of interest, you might find interest ramping up.
1. Personal growth. Employees and conference-goers are overstretched, overloaded and overcommitted. The stress in audiences is palpable, especially in North America. So, focus on life-instruction topics that make audiences more able to cope, and offer guidance to make their work lives easier. Talks about work-life balance, about hacking to-do lists, coping with stress, winnowing their email inboxes, and all the other things we gotta do every day—these are in demand. Did I mention coping with stress?
2. Customers. Customer service, in all its forms, and ideas about how to put the customer first—more often piously invoked than actually followed—are prevalent, as competition for customers rages more fiercely than ever. If you’ve got some new angle on how to delight customers, we’re ready to listen.
3. Change and innovation. An important subset of this trend is digital disruption, including artificial intelligence and other such technological innovations. Overall, the sense that change is upon every company, every industry and every department is more widespread than ever. Helping people figure out how to change and how to innovate is a great place for a speaker to be right now.
4. Leadership. A cynic might ask, “With all the money we’ve spent on studying leadership, why are there still so many bad leaders?” The idealist would answer, “Because leadership is hard, and there are many more ways to screw it up than there are to do it right.” That’s why this topic will remain evergreen as long as we have organizations and people running them.
5. Trend-spotting. Whenever the pace of innovation picks up and rapid change is endemic, we want to know what’s coming, and the future has its day. Again, as with change, digital and technological trend-spotting is very hot, but societal trends, workplace trends and figuring out millennials—the workers of the future, not to mention today—are also important.