The Professional Speaker’s Imperative

National Speakers Association White Paper

National Speakers Association (NSA) President Kristin Arnold has published a remarkable document. The Professional Speaker’s Imperative: Bringing Value to Today’s Global and Tech-Savvy Marketplace is a 20-page White Paper on the past, present and future of the speaking profession.

Seven NSA members assess current trends implications for the future of the speaking profession. Each of the speakers brings a specific area of expertise to the table, looking both into their rearview mirror and crystal ball as best they could.

Each chapter of the document covers a specific topic:

  • The History and Growth of Professional Speaking
  • The Evolution of Professional Speaking
  • Breadth and Depth of Today’s Speaking Industry
  • Today’s Professional Speakers
  • Other Practitioners Who Speak
  • Putting the “Profession” in Speaking
  • Audiences and Clients of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  • Implications for Professional Speakers
  • The Use of Technology
  • The Value Is in the Solution
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations and Next Steps

The opening chapter looks back at the folk roots of the profession of speaking:

The roots of the speaking profession can be traced to the Greek and Roman sophists, orators and lecturers, and then to a nomadic group of entertainers, often called gypsies, who traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East to perform for various townsfolk. These early professional speakers also used their vocal expertise for gossip, satire or political commentary.

The impact of technology, which began with amplification, proceeds into every aspect of the network as a platform for speaking:

Speakers are delivering presentations to audiences face-to-face, virtually or as a hybrid of the two. With online conferences, web-based seminars, self-directed learning modules, and a wide variety instructional formats with the ever-increasing possibilities delivered by constantly changing technical capabilities, the platform is evolving upon which professional speakers deliver their words of expertise. Increasingly, there will be in-house or core people gathering in the conference room, while geographically dispersed stakeholders will be linked into it—or will replay a download later.

The single most valuable chapter is “The Value of the Solution” which details how speakers can convey value to their clients before, during and after a meeting. There’s a whole range of ways listed to engage with an audience, apart from the moments when the speaker is on the podium. These include starting a virtual conversation via blogs, social media and community networking sites. Following-up with coaching and the provision of online resources suggested.

The paper concludes with a reminder that “…it always comes back to the message.
Professional speakers―keynoters, trainers, facilitators and consultants—deliver valuable messages. Their primary mission is to deliver content and inspiration through the spoken word face-to-face or virtually.”

I encourage anyone with an interest in professional speaking to download this valuable paper.

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Thanks Ian for sharing this fabulous white paper with your readers!

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