Gold medal winners are losing their shine on the professional speaking circuit in New Zealand as the country’s conference and seminar industry shifts into the age of the ‘expert’ and ‘thought leader’, says NSANZ President Darren Pratley.

“Where once the professional speaking circuit was a natural career progression for elite athletes, there is now a growing demand from the market for celebrity speakers to bring more to the table than accomplishments and experiences,” says Darren.

“The Internet’s focus on content, and to some extent the rise of TED Talks, is shifting the appetite of people across the country towards education, information and insights.”

That doesn’t mean people don’t want to hear about achievements, adversity and experiences, but those stories need to be delivered with tangible insights and new information that the audience can take away and apply in their lives.

Darren says New Zealand’s demand for education – echoed by similar trends around the world – has seen the rise of a new breed of speakers, people like Elias Kanaris (current President of the Global Speakers Federation), Allison Mooney (workforce harmony and communication) and Cam Calkoen (social entrepreneurship).

“The fact that our leading speakers have interesting stories to tell is the cherry on top. The primary reason they are sought after, however, is because their audiences will experience change as a result of their presentations.

“I think in some ways, younger audience today respect and admire the feats of, for example, elite athletes or those that have overcome adversity, but they want information and education that more closely identifies with their world experience,” says Darren.

He offers the following three tips for aspiring professional speakers:

1. Research the industry or business of your audience so that your presentation is relevant to their situation.

“Ask the conference organiser if you can call a couple of those coming along and research their problems, needs and challenges. Research creates value for the speaker.”

2. Adapt your presentation for every audience because the days of ‘one-trick pony keynotes’ are gone.

“The times when professional speakers had one keynote and all they did was turn up and play, are long gone. Research your audience and adapt your material. Speakers today are like consultants, but on a one to many scale.”

3. Use industry or audience specific examples in your content.

“Practical examples scattered throughout your content leads your audience to invest more attention into your presentation.”

By Colin Kennedy

About the writer: Colin Kennedy writes, speaks and consults on, ‘How to build and protect your online reputation in the age of LinkedIn, Facebook and Google’.