Speaker Trends: Content is King

The Freeman 2024 Trends Report finds attendees want substance, not celebrity

According to the Freeman 2024 Trends Report on attendee intent and behavior, When it comes to keynotes, content comes first. Attendees want substance, not celebrity. A thought- provoking, relevant topic will outweigh even the most prominent speaker. Freeman is a leading global event agency offering a complete solution for exhibitors, corporate events and trade shows. The Freeman Trends Report offers the largest, ​most comprehensive behavioral and intent assessment​ of B2B events in the industry.

The 2024 Report finds that the most important factors for attending keynotes/general sessions/ plenary sessions are:

  1. Topic
  2. Type of speaker
  3. Session format
  4. Duration
  5. Award or recognition

Innovation and industry experts prevail as the preferred keynote topics and speaker types.
Attendees want to hear about topics like innovation and from people like industry leaders and experts. The report found that celebrity speakers will not boost registrations. Unless they’re experts in a relevant vertical, celebrities don’t drive behavior or outweigh what really matters.

The topics that attendees are drawn to are innovation (39%), industry leaders/experts (34%), inspirational/motivational (14%), unique stories of interest (11%), celebrity stories (1%), other (2%). Striking a balance between informational and inspirational is key. Attendees want to hear about innovation from industry experts because they want to walk away from keynotes feeling both informed and inspired. Leaning into thought leadership and the latest developments is key to appealing to attendees’ desired state of mind. Interestingly, males prefer to feel informed (40%), whereas females want to feel inspired (47%). This is one of many examples that illustrate why it’s essential to know your audience intimately so that you can deliver the most relevant content.

When it comes to training sessions, attendees prefer to receive training and professional content in person. When given a choice, attendees opt for in-person learning because of the irreplaceable experiential opportunities it offers. There was a 7% decrease in those who attend online events for training which implies that some respondents are getting tired of Zoom rooms serving as classrooms and believe that learning is more valuable with real people, and real demonstrations, in real life. However, a large percent of younger attendees (58%) still seek professional content online through sources like LinkedIn and YouTube, indicating that the digital divide between generations remains. Younger attendees in particular will continue to get training in all kinds of ways, but there’s an opportunity to make training a priority at in-person events, as 70% of attendees seek it out.

Any thoughts, opinions, or news? Please share them with me at vince@meetingsevents.com.

Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash

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