There is no doubt that the events industry experienced massive changes in 2020. Despite the uncertainties the industry faced last year, these changes led to increased accessibility, technological innovation, and new forms of connectedness. A better understanding of technology and good virtual recording set-ups became vital. Along with the shift to virtual events, speakers also had to adjust to fit today’s standards, many coming up with innovative offerings and technological magic. These speakers to watch in 2021 have adapted to changing event norms.
Beyond the shift to virtual events and technological changes, the topics and characteristics people seek out in speakers have also adjusted. Of course, there is more demand than ever for motivational and inspirational speakers to help audiences persevere through this uncertain time. But this past year has also given increased relevance to topics like public health, financial considerations, and anti-racism. Each speaker has a unique perspective or story to tell, and as we move forward into this new year, consider the message you want to send to your audience with inspiration from these 10 speakers to watch in 2021.
CEO of TechSavvy Global, Strategic Innovation Consultant, Bestselling Author & Host of “Next Up”
The pandemic hit businesses hard, and many companies were forced to let go of and furlough staff in order to remain open. Scott Steinberg is a futurist who encourages audiences to embrace change, learn to future-proof your business, and inspire leaders on how to thrive during disruptive times.
Hailed as “The Master of Innovation” by Fortune magazine and World’s Leading Business Strategist, Scott is an award-winning strategic consultant, trends expert, professional speaker, and bestselling expert on leadership, change, and innovation. A go-to resource for C-level leaders, he has served as a source of thought leadership, insight, and consulting for over 1000 leading brands, and advised on household-name products found in 100+ million homes. He is the author of “Make Change Work For You” and “Millennial Marketing.” As the CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, and management consulting + market research firm FutureProof Strategies, he helps partners stay one step ahead of emerging trends – and drive growth around them.
2. Ijeoma Oluo
Writer & Social Activist
To work towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future, there must be increased conversations and actions taken towards addressing racial inequality. Ijeoma Oluo, the author of “So You Want To Talk About Race,” is a seasoned speaker on issues of social justice, race relations, and feminism, among others, and will educate and inspire your audience with her first-hand experience and knowledge of the issues our society faces today.
Ijeoma’s work on social issues such as race and gender has been published in The Guardian, The Stranger, Washington Post, ELLE magazine, NBC News, and more. Her New York Times bestselling first book, “So You Want to Talk About Race,” was released in January 2018. Ijeoma was named one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, one of The Root’s 100 Most Influential Americans in 2017 & 2018, and is the recipient of the Feminist Humanist Award 2018 by the American Humanist Association, the Media Justice Award by the Gender Justice League, and the 2018 Aubrey Davis Visionary Leadership Award by the Equal Opportunity Institute.
Growth Mindset and Improvement Expert; Co-Founder of Mindset Works
During 2020, organizations had to change how they operated in order to continue to grow. Eduardo Briceño comes at this approach from a place of increasing performance through growth mindset and the ability to trust that you can always improve and develop to increase your performance. He incorporates growth mindset research to provide invaluable insights and strategies for individuals, educators, managers, and leaders.
Eduardo is the most booked keynote speaker and workshop facilitator on growth mindset and the Learning Zone. In 2007, along with Carol Dweck and Lisa Blackwell, he co-founded Mindset Works, the pioneer in growth mindset development services and programs, which served and influenced thousands of organizations in their advancement of learning-oriented cultures and systems. Eduardo’s TEDx and TED talks on growth mindset and improvement have each been viewed by millions of people. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network, and an inductee in the Happiness Hall of Fame.
4. Shane Ortega
The US Army’s First Openly Trans Soldier
Diversity, equity, and inclusion touch on many different areas, one of which is ensuring that everyone feels free to express themselves fully. As the first openly serving transgender military service member, Shane Ortega is a champion for human rights legislation and policy, working tirelessly to champion the rights of the oppressed. His story brings to light the importance of accepting one another.
Shane was featured in the HBO documentary *The Trans List*. Shane is a mixed American Indian enrolled in the Skaroreh Katenuauka Nation, a retired disabled combat veteran (Marines and Army) of over 11 years, and a two-spirit (transgender) man. He has a 12+ year record of championing human rights legislation and policy. He is an advocate, consultant, author, speaker, and educator on topics such as LGBTQ equity, indigenous rights, disabled veterans’ rights, MMIW, two-spirit education, land sovereignty, and colonial/tribal law relationship.
Climate Change Activist; Author; Founder & Co-Executive Director of Youth-Led Climate Action Group “Zero Hour”
Climate change is a huge issue that we as the human race must face and act upon. With rising temperatures and water levels and an increase in natural disasters, the time to act is now. Jamie Margolin targets her messages to youths to empower their vision of the future. Not only is she incredibly knowledgeable, but is also experienced in enacting palpable change through group organizing.
Jamie is a 19-year-old Colombian-American organizer, activist, author, public speaker, and film student. Margolin is a co-founder of the international youth climate justice movement called Zero Hour that led Youth Climate Marches in Washington, DC, and over 25 cities around the world during the summer of 2018. Zero Hour has over 200 chapters worldwide and has been a leading organization in the climate movement. Jamie has helped lead Zero Hour in organizing marches, rallies, educational campaigns, strikes, summits, and lobby days, including the “2019 Youth Climate Summit” in Miami, Florida, and the Youth Climate Lobby Days on Capitol Hill both in 2018 and in 2019. Margolin is also a plaintiff on the Our Children’s Trust Youth v. Gov Washington state lawsuit, Aji P. vs. State of Washington, suing the state of Washington for denying her generation their constitutional rights to a livable environment by worsening the climate crisis. She is the author of “Youth to Power: Your Voice and How To Use It,” which serves as a guide to being a young organizer for any cause.
Founder & CEO of Ellevest, Leadership Expert, Author of “Own It: The Power of Women at Work”
Diversity is a competitive advantage and having many opinions leads to more innovation and inclusivity in the workplace. One way to level the playing field is by empowering women to achieve high levels of leadership and understand how to invest and make money. Sallie Krawcheck has a strong background in fighting for women’s rights, especially in the financial realm, and she has the experience to educate and inspire your audience on the importance of gender equity in the workplace.
Sallie is the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, an innovative digital investment platform for women. Additionally, she is the chair of Ellevate Network, the global professional woman’s network, and of the Pax Ellevate Global Woman’s Index Fund, which invests in the top-rated companies in the world for advancing women. She is also the best-selling author of “Own It: The Power of Women at Work.” During her career, Krawcheck has a history of turning around and growing troubled businesses, eliminating Wall Street conflicts of interest, and advocating a true client-centered business model. Fortune Magazine called her “The Last Honest Analyst” during her tenure at Sanford Bernstein, and noted that hers was the most influential voice for research quality and integrity.
Founder & CEO of Black Girls CODE
With society continuing to shift towards a technological world, the presence of those who keep the industry afloat is needed now more than ever. The technology and software development industries have long been controlled by men, and Kimberly Bryant is a strong advocate in changing this demographic towards more diversity and inclusivity. By especially encouraging Black women to learn how to code, Bryant’s non-profit is changing the stereotypes of the tech industry.
Kimberly is the founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color (ages 7-17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. Prior to starting Black Girls CODE, Bryant enjoyed a successful two-decade-long career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as an engineering manager in a series of technical leadership roles for various Fortune 50 companies such as Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer. Since 2011, Bryant has helped Black Girls CODE grow from a local grassroots initiative serving only the Bay Area, to an international organization with fourteen chapters across the U.S. and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Black Girls CODE has currently reached over 10,000 students and continues to grow and thrive.
8. Guy Raz
Co-Creator & Host of NPR’s “TED Radio Hour” & “How I Built This“
In a time where many of our normal hobbies may not still be in reach, this past year has forced people to be creative about how they choose to spend their time. Giving yourself the space to find your passion and creativity is what Guy Raz is all about. He is skilled at providing helpful information about how creativity works, lessons from great entrepreneurs, and telling inspirational stories that will motivate you to find your purpose.
Guy is an acclaimed radio and podcast personality and creator of the popular podcast “How I Built This” and “TED Radio Hour,” which have found a consistent home on the top charts. “TED Radio Hour” takes listeners on a journey through the world of ideas. Each week, the world’s greatest thinkers, scientists, artists, and visionaries join Raz for an exploration into the common experiences that make us human. “How I Built This” is a podcast about the greatest innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Guy is also the creator of NPR’s first-ever podcast for kids, “Wow in the World,” as well as Spotify’s “The Rewind.” His shows are heard by more than 19 million people each month around the world. “How I Built This” and “TED Radio Hour” have been named top podcasts by Apple Podcasts, and Inc. Magazine has called “How I Built This” “the best podcast to take on the New Year.”
Nationally Recognized Leader in Public Health & Infectious Diseases Epidemiologist
It is no surprise that public health and concerns around epidemiology have greatly risen this year. Public health experts have spent the past year informing us of the changes in the coronavirus pandemic, but they will also be valuable voices to hear moving forward in how to be prepared and prevent future outbreaks. Dr. Syra Madad is an expert in public health preparedness and response and can provide an informed perspective on public health topics for your next event.
Dr. Madad is nationally recognized leader and epidemiologist in public health and special pathogen preparedness and response. She is Senior Director, System-wide Special Pathogens Program at New York City Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest municipal healthcare delivery system overseeing special pathogen preparedness and response efforts across 11 acute care hospitals in addition to post-acute/long-term care facilities and ambulatory care sites. She is Principal Investigator of NYC Health + Hospitals Institute of Diseases and Disaster Management and Health & Safety Lead of the Enhanced Special Investigations Unit of NYC Test & Trace Corp. In addition, Dr. Madad is Core Faculty in the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). She is a Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and part of their COVID19 Expert Taskforce, Alumni Fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Health Security’s Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Program and Alumni Senior Fellow in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Informatics & Technological Enterprise Studies Program.
10. Zerlina Maxwell
Author of “The End of White Politics;” Thought Leader on National Politics & Rape Culture
Zerlina Maxwell is the Senior Director for Progressive Programming for SiriusXM, where she co-hosts the award-winning show “Signal Boost.” She is well known for her thought leadership, speaking, and writing on national politics and policy, race, feminism, and rape culture. In 2020, she released her first book, “The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide,” in which she analyzes the issues and divides within the Democratic Party and proposes a plan to address them.
In 2015, Zerlina had the honor of being one of five journalists selected to travel with President Obama on Air Force One for his trip to Selma, Alabama, for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Zerlina served as the Director of Progressive Media on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, also serving as a campaign spokesperson for the Presidential Debates. Zerlina holds a law degree from Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Tufts.
We are already into the new year and now is the perfect time to look into some of the biggest and brightest voices of 2021. Whether you wish to inform your audience about racial injustice, finance, business development, creativity, or COVID-19, rest assured that there is the perfect speaker for you to ring in the new year for your audience with inspiration and thoughtfulness. Contact us today to book a speaker for your next event.