6 Hot Speaking Topics According to Event Organizers

If you’re anything like our event organizer clients, many of your events probably center around speaking topics directly related to the organization, company, or university you work for. As you know, the impact of event experiences goes much deeper. We’ve seen time and again how our clients’ events are educating employees on emerging trends, shedding light on important social issues, and prioritizing employee wellness.

That’s why keeping your finger on the pulse of hot topics in the speaking industry is so crucial. One of the ways we do that is by asking hundreds of event organizers each year what event topics they’re prioritizing. In our 2024 Speaking Industry Benchmark Report, we did just that. Let’s take a closer look at the six most popular answers we received.

1. Leadership and Motivation

The impact of solid leadership has played out over and over throughout history and continues to be an essential skill set in our careers and lives. It’s no surprise that more than 40 percent of the event organizers we surveyed said leadership and motivation was one of the speaking topics they’re targeting in 2024.

This is anything but a new trend. Since our 2022 report, leadership has consistently cracked the top two spots for speaking topics. Within our response pool of event organizers, those who work for a corporation or company were the most likely to be planning an event around leadership and motivation, coming in at almost 50 percent.

While leadership and motivation is a familiar topic in our industry, hosting an event that leaves your audience with actionable takeaways depends on booking the right speaker. At AAE, we’ve worked with the top leadership speakers out there who know what it takes to empower people and organizations to achieve greatness.

2. Inclusion and Belonging

Having diverse voices at the table enriches the conversation and allows all of us to build a more inclusive environment. Our Speaking Industry Benchmark Report findings support this trend, with inclusion topics being the top answer among event topics in 2022 and 2023 and maintaining its popularity this year at number two.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents said they’re planning events this year focused on inclusion topics. For Universities, that percentage was significantly higher, with almost half telling us that they’re planning to bring experts to their campuses to speak to students and staff this year.
With so much historical context, intersecting identities, and real world implications woven into diversity and inclusion conversations, identifying speakers who possess the right balance of expertise and eloquence is essential to hosting a meaningful event. If you’ve got similar event plans this year, AAE is here to help.

3. Artificial Intelligence

A couple of years ago, we were all just getting accustomed to the arrival of tools like ChatGPT and other large language models and exploring their capabilities. Today the conversation has shifted to how organizations can get the most out of these tools, as well as anticipating the new abilities that are unlocked with the launch of updated versions.

In this year’s report, AI was the third most popular choice among speaking topics, only narrowly edged out by inclusion at just over 36 percent. Corporate event organizers were most enthusiastic about AI, with over 40% selecting it, making it the number two answer for that segment of our respondent pool.

AI is a rapidly expanding field that will impact the future of business, education, technology, and innovation. If you’ve set out to give your audience a deeper understanding of AI, AAE can connect you with the experts in data science, machine learning, deep learning, and the broad applications of AI in the modern world.

4. Mental Health

The importance of mental health has never been more recognized, and it’s a critical topic for events in 2024. Just over 33 percent of respondents in our report selected mental health as a key focus, emphasizing its relevance in today’s fast-paced, high-stress world. Organizations made up the largest portion of respondents prioritizing this topic, with more than 40 percent acknowledging its importance.

Addressing mental health in the workplace and beyond has become a priority for many. Events centered around this topic are designed to provide insights into managing stress, promoting mental well-being, and creating supportive environments.

To make these events impactful, it’s essential to bring in speakers who can not only share their expertise but also connect with the audience on a personal level. At AAE, we work with mental health professionals and advocates who can help you deliver a powerful message on this crucial subject.

5. The Future of Work

The landscape of work is evolving, and understanding what lies ahead is crucial for both employers and employees. This year, the future of work emerged as the fifth most popular topic, with over 20 percent of respondents indicating their interest. Corporations made up the largest chunk of this respondent pool, with over 27 percent selecting it as a key theme for their events.

From remote work trends to the gig economy and the integration of advanced technologies in the workplace, the future of work encompasses a broad range of discussions. Organizing events around this topic helps prepare your audience for the changes ahead and equips them with the knowledge to adapt and thrive. 

AAE can connect you with forward-thinking speakers who specialize in the future of work, offering insights into emerging trends and innovative practices that are shaping the workplace of tomorrow.

6. Black History and Other Annual Awareness

Annual awareness events continue to play a significant role in educating and engaging audiences on important issues. This topic was the sixth overall answer in our report, with over 20 percent of respondents indicating their plans to focus on it. Universities were the most likely to say they are planning these events, with nearly 34 percent highlighting their commitment.

Among the various annual awareness events, Black History Month (BHM) stands out as the top event folks are planning this year. These events provide an opportunity to celebrate, educate, and bring awareness to critical social issues and historical milestones. 

To make your annual awareness events impactful, it’s essential to choose speakers who can bring these topics to life and inspire your audience. At AAE, we have access to a diverse range of speakers who can help you create meaningful and memorable awareness events.

Speakers make a profound impact across disciplines

Just as every event is unique, every event organizer works on behalf of a unique set of stakeholders and with distinct audience demographics in mind. No matter your organization’s focus, it’s clear that the topics we’ve discussed here are having and will continue to have a profound impact in our industry. When you’re ready to join the conversation through your events, AAE will be here to help.

Evan Owens: Evan is a communications manager for AAE. He writing about the latest trends of the entertainment industry and creating engaging, useful content for event planners. In his free time, he likes playing basketball, and spending time with his wife, son, and their two dogs.
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