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Like all of you, we’re excited about 2022 events. This year has been transformative, to say the least. We’ve seen the re-emergence of in-person events, the surge of hybrid events, and the sustainability of virtual events. We are fortunate to have a window inside the speaking topics trending in our industry, and here are the top 3 themes to watch that are driving the most demand heading into 2022.
1. Mental Health and Mindset
After what’s been almost a two-year journey of COVID-related stressors, it is no surprise that mental health speaking topics are at the top of our trending speaking topics and themes from event producers right now. Mental health speaking topics can allow attendees to recognize the signs of depression in others, educate about the dangers of addiction, and demonstrate to attendees that it is OK to accept that you are sometimes not OK. There is increasing concern about healthcare workers who are leaving the field in droves, citing mental health and fatigue as a big reason.
What is acceptable shifted in 2021. We saw world-class athletes like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka step aside at critical points in their professional lives to make mental health their priority instead. Dak Prescott recently launched his Ask 4 Help campaign to raise mental health awareness in honor of his late brother.
Addressing speaking topics including resilience, happiness, transformation, and stress, these keynote speakers on mindset and mindfulness are ready to share their expertise. Eduardo Briceño, Jenn Lim, and “Rudy” Ruettiger convey their moving stories to spark greatness from within us. Jenny Evans helps us to understand the physiology behind stress so that we can diffuse it, and emerging speaker Anthony Trucks helps us realize that we can all “Make Shift Happen.” Dr. Christian Conte speaks on “The Emotional Challenges of The COVID Pandemic” to workplaces around the country.
Actor and motivational speaker J.R. Martinez continues to dazzle audiences with his speaking topics about triumph over past trauma. Positive psychology author and expert Shawn Achor helps organizations restore a culture of confidence in his sessions. Lizzie Velasquez shows audiences how true beauty comes from within, empowering us to grow in self-acceptance, compassion, and empathy. Suicide Awareness Month gives mental health yet another important platform in September.
2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of All
Over the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in speaking topic requests both on the topic of diversity, as well as for diverse speakers addressing a variety of topics. Organizations, universities, and corporations alike are taking note, and many have hired one of these dedicated DEI leaders to keep the D&I discussion at the forefront of their communities. We expect this trending speaking topic to remain relevant into 2022 and beyond.
For organizations looking to educate about DEI initiatives, there are experienced trainers on diversity, equity, and inclusion, like Ijeoma Oluo, whose topic “So You Want to Talk About Race” based on her 2018 book is in demand. Other organizations choose to bring in an experienced DEI leader like Carin Taylor or Katrina Jones to shape the discussion around empowering women of color.
Diversity as a theme also includes raising awareness of other marginalized groups, including latinx, AAPI, LGBTQ+, and those physically and mentally disabled. Hispanic Heritage Month in the fall is a great time to bring ground-breaking Latinx speakers like Dolores Huerta. Aerospace engineer Shayla Rivera brings a STEM angle to the diversity conversation. In 2021, Asian American keynote speaker Amanda Nguyen remained in demand following her viral video as part of the effort to “Stop Asian Hate” earlier this year. Disability justice advocate Lydia X. Z. Brown addresses the need to reduce violence against disabled people and discriminatory practices that infringe the rights of the disabled.
LGBTQ+ causes were also in the spotlight in 2021, and from the speaking topics already being booked in 2022, looks to continue as a dominant theme. Discussing gender issues and sexuality, sought-after speakers like Shane Ortega and Geena Rocero share their transgender experiences with organizations looking to raise awareness and advocate for basic human rights.
This summer brought both the Olympic and Paralympic games (delayed from 2020) and Paralympic athletes like Melissa Stockwell did not disappoint fans around the world. Melissa’s speaking topic, The Power of Choice, focuses on perseverance, perspective, and overcoming personal tragedy to achieve greatness. Swimmer and gold medalist Jessica Long discusses her own inspiring journey from amputee to Paralympic champion.
3. The Future of Work
Remote work. Hybrid work. The Great Resignation. All of these workforce topics have taken on new significance in the past year, thus becoming one of the highest trending speaking topics. Event managers are already getting ahead of these emerging trends for 2022.
We can’t have a remote or hybrid work environment without discussing how critically important technology has become in our everyday lives. This does not come without some risk, however, to our security and data. Cybersecurity expert and popular creator of the blog Krebs on Security, Brian Krebs speaks on a topic called “Primetime Cybercrime” that explores the depths of the cybercriminal’s mind. White-hat hacker and CEO Rachel Tobac presents “Exploiting Trust: The Human Element of Security” to help audiences understand their part in keeping safe online.
“Digital Body Language,” a popular speaking topic from Erica Dhawan, showcases her expertise in collaboration and connectional intelligence, a key precursor to driving faster innovation. With a focus on “Strategies to Connect and Engage a Multi-Generational Workforce,” Ryan Jenkins presents how to turn the generational gap into a competitive advantage.
We would be remiss to not include mention of some of the next generation of thought leaders when discussing the Future of Work. Gitanjali Rao, Alyssa Carson, and Samaira Mehta are in top demand for speaking on STEM innovation, catching the eye of TIME magazine, and many others. Art prodigy Tyler Gordon demonstrates that adversity at an early age did not prevent him from achieving success. His paintings are on display in numerous galleries in New York and Beverly Hills. Being deaf, genderqueer, trans-masculine, Chinese, and Jewish, Chella Man found he didn’t have role models to look up to, so he decided to be his own. He hopes to continue pushing the boundaries of what it means to be accessible, inclusive, and equal in this world, and we are here for it.
Looking ahead at trending speaking topics, one thing becomes clear. The world is becoming more interconnected than ever before. When it comes to keynote speaking topics, much like in life itself, it’s time for everyone to learn to accept our differences, celebrate them, and support each other in the year to come.