2018 Public Speaking Report – Chapter 6

Feb 27, 2019 | Public Speaking


We live in a digital day and age. There is no denying it, and there is no reason to. The disrupting waves of digital transformation are not sparing the public speaking industry either. They are washing over all fields of business as we know them, and they are only growing bigger as time passes.

So how has public speaking changed under the influence of digital? The most obvious changes are the use of slides, pointers, light-weight microphones, and other tools. Less obvious is how public speakers use software to make their lives easier. Finding speaking gigs, managing time, checking availability, communication,… are all changed with the rise of the internet. In this final chapter Speakersbase dives into those exact changes.


Now, let’s be clear, digital transformation influencing this industry is not news. We did not have to host a survey to figure out that public speakers like to use email to communicate with event organizers. Speakersbase launched this survey is to find out to what degree the internet and technological changes have influenced the industry. We know that the internet has changed the world, including the public speaking industry.

So when we asked how public speakers find engagements, we were surprised to hear that the offline network was still the most powerful. The little black book and hearing things through the grapevine still powers the world of public speaking. Of all respondents, 38.5% find the majority of their speaking engagements through word-of-mouth, and 29% gets contacted directly by the event organizers.

Figure 24. How do you find public speaking jobs?

There are not a lot of software driven methods to find speaking engagements. Only social media (23.5%) and the company websites that advertise when they are hosting events (3.5%) were listed. Another surprise presented itself in the low number of speakers that found their gigs through agencies (5.5%). Many speaking agencies pride themselves in being great matchmakers, but it seems they are not the most efficient tool. Perhaps the digital evolution is slowly pushing them out. Bookings are getting handled mainly by speakers themselves.


The data in Figure 25 supports the assumption above. When we asked public speakers how they organize and handle their bookings, only 4% said an agency took care of it all. Of the other 94%, 87% said they dealt with it by combining their (online) calendar and their email. Just a handful said to use specialized booking software, particularly the software that is created for music producers and agencies. One respondent added “The music industry is just so far ahead of the public industry… It is crazy.” Someone else mentioned mainly using their “paper planner” to keep track of bookings, and while planners can be a great system, it was not the question asked, so we had to cut that out from the count.

So if it is not for handling their bookings, what do public speakers use software for? The results in Figure 26 are not entirely shocking. Since most public speakers deal with bookings through email and calendar, the 31% that said they primarily use email as software was expected. On the other hand, the amount of respondents that primarily use software to share their public speaking journey on social media is surprisingly low. Despite the online marketing efforts discussed in chapter four, “marketing” does not seem to include sharing the more personal aspects

Figure 25. How do you handle your bookings?

Figure 26. As a public speaker, I use software for…

So overall it does seem like public speakers are not finding the software and tools that could assist them in the process of finding and securing bookings. Or do they simply not yet exist? It would be very interesting to take a closer look at the tools public speakers need. If music industry software can be used, it must be possible to create something custom.


There are several conclusions that can be drawn from the available data. First of all, it seems that most public speakers feel a need to have a more transparent working environment. Clarity about fees, agencies, and where to find interesting public speaking engagements… most speakers agree that it would improve the industry as a whole. As discussed is the MICE industry worth over $752 billion, and it would only seem fair that the speakers, who are such an integral part of it, would get their share of that.

The professionalization and growth of the public speaking industry has been steady in the past years. Yet Speakersbase believes that sharing information will improve the entire industry. Especially for the public speakers. By uncovering trends like paying to speak, and what an average fee is, can more inexperienced public speakers get a fair chance.

When it comes to marketing, public speakers do most of it themselves. They plan, create, post and follow up their own content and own social media presence. Only very few of them let someone else handle it, largely because they do not set aside a specific budget for marketing or public speaking. Those who do often take on an agency or a marketing bureau, but they are the outliers that are full-time public speakers who also ask higher fees.

While most public speakers are rather digitally savvy, there is still a long way to go. Especially when it comes to using specialized software that makes the upkeep of portfolios and keeping track of bookings easier. A lot of such particular software does not seem to exist yet, though Speakersbase is working towards it. Keep an eye out for new developments!

The data have been interpreted to the best of our abilities, but we are already looking forward to the survey at the end of 2019. In the coming years Speakersbase is planning to keep hosting these surveys and reports in order to uncover trends and patterns in the public speaking industry.

Are you ready? Download the report below!

2018 Public Speaking Report (151 downloads)

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