Professional speakers got a peak into the future on February 16th to the 18th as hundreds of speakers descended on Baltimore for the NSA Winter Conference on the Future of Speaking. With the changing marketplace, speakers were eager to learn the direction of the speaking industry and the changing role of public speaking.
The conference, which was held at the Marriott Waterfront hotel, was designed by two amazing co-chairs, Sylvie diGuisto and Ben Wolff. They did not disappoint. The theme and music were futuristic and included interaction with a robot.
Speakers experienced something for the first time-they met the "other NSA". David Hogue, from the National Security Association spoke about A Day in the Life of Cybersecurity, a topic that no one can ignore.
The Million Dollar Speakers Group shared how they reached the million dollar level and recommended attending the Consumer Electronics Show in order to see the future. The conference attendees were treated to Future in Five presentations. Each presentation was five minutes, a type of mini Ted Talk and covered topics such as Teaching, Meetings, Disabilities, Emerging Technology, Timeless Wisdom, and Asking Powerful Questions. The concurrent sessions were conducted as labs and covered the Future of Thought Leadership, The Future of Storytelling, and the Future is Global: Using Online Summits to Reach Billions.
On Saturday and Sunday morning, Jeffrey Hayzett, Founder of C-Suite Network, conducted two breakfast meetings-one on podcasting and the other on book marketing. The early start time of 7:15 was not a deterrent as the room was packed and the audience energy was high. The conference culminated with a futuristic program called Imagine the Future. In a theater-in-the-round setting, the audience of speakers listened to presentations on The Imagine Stage, Imagine the Future of Marketing, Imagine Physical Media in a Digital World, Imagine Mobile Technology Revolutionizing the Speaking Business, and one of the highlights, Imagine Content Creation in A World with Creative Machines. Drew Tarvin took us through an enactment of crafting a presentation. Only he wasn't in front of a laptop. Using artificial intelligence Drew spoke to an Alexa or Siri type voice, where he asked questions to which the voice responded with research, ideas, jokes, etc. The categories or topics appeared on the screen as he made his requests. It brought new meaning to the experience of "hearing voices".
Before closing the conference , the new CEO of National Speakers Association, Mary Lue Peck, was interviewed on stage. She acknowledged that associations and the speaking profession will have to change and one step for being ready for the future was to focus on data analytics. The attendees left with new ideas, new technology, and new friends. The future looks exciting.. And the future is now!