In the first quarter of 2020, we were all in “full-steam ahead business as usual” mode. Speakers were lining up speaking gigs and filling their calendars. People were attending networking functions, meetings, conferences, and the like, all ready to hear what the next speaker had to offer. Life was normal, until March, when suddenly and dramatically, everything changed. I’d attended a conference one week, and within a couple weeks, just about every in-person meeting, event, and conference in the US had been cancelled. The result was nearly every in-person speaker’s calendar was suddenly empty.
Like so many other industries, the speaking industry was hit hard because events are all about bringing people together and that was no longer safe. Fortunately, similar to what restaurants did, event planners figured out how to serve their audiences by moving their events to online platforms, the virtual/digital equivalent of “take out.”
Some speakers were quick to recognize the opportunities these new virtual platforms offered and started focusing on booking speaking gigs on those virtual stages. Others were slower to jump in, but with live opportunities being shut down for so long, they finally acquiesced so people wouldn’t forget who they were or what they had to offer.
So that brings us to where we are now. Our world is slowly, purposefully, and steadily reopening. In fact, over the past few weeks, I’ve been to both networking and family events that were in-person. Do you know what many of the conversations were about? People were talking about how strange it felt to be with other people again. It was awkward too, because no one knew exactly what to do. Should masks still be worn? Was it okay to hug someone or was elbow bumping still the “socially acceptable” option. Are there different protocols if you’re outside versus inside?
Even for me (and you all know how much I love to network), catching up with a networking friend I hadn’t been in touch with for a while was a bit of a challenge. The fact is that we can’t know for sure how anyone was affected by the pandemic. And we don’t want to cause anyone discomfort or pain by asking how things have been for them during the pandemic…. Like I said, awkward.
Unfortunately, this topic will probably continue to be the elephant in the room for a while… made even more uncomfortable with so many of us feeling like our in-person people skills are downright rusty. And, now that I’ve got you thinking about all this, I’d really appreciate your thoughts about “getting back to normal,” so I created a brief 5-question survey so you can share them. I’ll post the results on At the Podium’s Facebook page. Click here to take the survey
I believe the speaking industry is going to find its in-person stride again, although, it’s going to be a while before we get back to things feeling normal again. But maybe there’s an opportunity during this time too. Speaking wise, I think event planners will get back to in-person meetings and events when they feel fairly confident they can fill seats at a live event versus filling the screen of a digital one. The question you should be asking yourself is: Where do you see yourself as this all starts to unfold?
As speakers, we all want to get back into that inspired groove again. We want to feel the nervous thrill of getting ready to take the stage and share our problem-solving message with an in-person audience. The good news for speakers is that it’s finally the right time to start scheduling some time in your calendar for scouting out the possibilities. Save event planners the time of trying to figure out who’s ready to dive back into the in-person speaking pool. Be the bold one. Take the first step and reach out to let them know you’re ready—right now.
‘Til we speak again,