Six Key Takeaways from AAE’s 2024 Speaking Industry Benchmark Report

Here at AAE, our own version of March Madness is launching our annual Speaking Industry Benchmark Report, and I’m pleased to announce that our 3rd edition is now available for download. With responses from over 700 participants, this data-rich report was created out of a need for greater transparency in the keynote speaker booking transaction, both from the event professionals who book speakers and the experienced keynote speakers who deliver amazing experiences for audiences. By highlighting what matters most to both parties involved in the talent booking process, we believe sharing what matters most will make for a more seamless and positive speaker-booking relationship.

Here are six of the top takeaways from the 2024 report that every event organizer and professional speaker should take note of:

1. In-person events are dominating the market but virtual events are still a consistent part of the mix

This year’s report shows a strong increase in in-person events being planned this year. Approximately 80% of events this year will be in-person, both with and without streaming for virtual audiences. The remaining 20% of events will be virtual, offering flexibility and accessibility to attendees worldwide, and demonstrating that this proven medium for hosting events still has its place in the event mix.

2. The top three topics in 2024: Leadership and Motivation, DEI, and AI

This year, Leadership and Motivation topics surpassed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), which was the top response to this question in 2023. Additionally, as we began to experience late last year, the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has seen tremendous growth in requests for speakers. As organizations adapt to the rapidly changing business landscape, there is a growing demand for speakers who can provide applicable and tactical guidance in all of these key areas.

3. Fewer mental health events are expected in 2024

Surprisingly, this year’s report indicates a decrease (34% vs 44% in 2023) in the number of mental health speeches planned compared to last year. While mental health remains a critically important issue, event organizers seem to be shifting their focus this year toward other pressing topics like those mentioned above. Regardless of the decrease in requests compared to last year, for speakers on mental health, note that it is still the 4th highest topic planned for this year.

4. Event organizers are increasingly budget-conscious

Whether due to economic uncertainty or shifting fiscal priorities, event organizers are becoming more selective in how they allocate their budgets. This year, 41% of event organizers told us that staying on budget is their biggest priority (compared to 32% in 2023.) Having to make tough choices while facing the rising fixed costs of food & beverage means that budget cuts need to come from somewhere else. Cost-effective entertainment options that offer maximum value are going to be in demand. We believe that speakers who can demonstrate flexibility in pricing are likely to be favored in this environment.

5. Event organizers are asking for fewer extras, most notably, meet and greets

Event organizers are focusing on core content and experiences. One notable trend is the decline in demand for meet and greet sessions with speakers (down to 53% from 66% last year,) signaling a shift towards more content-driven programming and efficient use of time and budget. For speakers, offering these additional services as part of your existing speaking fee might be worth considering in 2024.

6. Speakers say it’s increasingly harder to find speaking gigs

Standing out from the crowd has become more challenging than ever, and speakers are facing heightened competition in securing speaking engagements. With a growing pool of talented speaking professionals vying for limited opportunities, nearly ⅔ of speakers told us this was their biggest challenge, up from 52% in 2023. Building a strong personal brand, growing industry relationships, and demonstrating expertise in niche topics are essential. For speakers, remember that being a speaker is essentially owning your own business, so you need to promote, manage, and run it as such. Partnering with buyer-side speaker bureaus like AAE can help greatly amplify your visibility, but it should never be the only way you market your services. 

To download the 2024 Speaking Industry Benchmark Report, visit, which also has links to the report’s Executive Summary for those in a hurry. 

Jennifer Best: Jennifer Best is the Head of Marketing for All American Entertainment. Jen has been featured in print and digital publications, including, on digital marketing trending topics. She is a former SBA award-winning entrepreneur for her digital marketing work with small businesses. When she's not geeking out on Google Analytics and marketing automation, you'll find Jen cooking for her growing family or enjoying a great book.
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