The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: 30 Years Of Perspective

Gail Davis, 23 November 2016

For over three decades, I’ve been involved in the booking of professional speakers. I was a corporate event planner before embarking on my own 18 years ago. Thirty years have brought a multitude of changes, but one thing remains the same.

Back in the 1980's, the best way to learn about a speaker was to contact the bureaus. After all, they held all the keys when it came to industry knowledge, event insight, speaker names, and contact information. Upon connecting with the bureaus, event planners would have to wait days or weeks for the over-sized envelope filled with one-sheeters, headshots, and VHS tapes to arrive. Event planners would then spend days watching and reviewing low-quality videos with poor audio and tracking issues in hopes of presenting the right speaker to key event stakeholders. Once a decision was made, event planners would repackage and return all of the items to the bureau from whence it came.

Today, things are different.

Yes, event planners still exist, but the information-age has undoubtedly changed the landscape of our industry. Event planners now access the once coveted footage of today's top names and figures with the swipe of a smartphone or tablet thanks to Google, social media, and robust speaker websites. Some say today’s event planners have it easy. They stream HD quality videos that are highly edited and easily accessed via YouTube and Vimeo; they socialize speakers with decision-makers by sharing a link; and finally, they get booking approval through interactive online forms and polling integrations in cloud-based messaging platforms like Slack.

I love today’s immediacy and the transparency. It’s what our industry needs. More importantly, I love the fact that these advancements still allow me to play in a role where I can bring value and also serve as a trusted adviser.

Highly polished videos, while attractive, don’t tell the whole story. Reviews don’t always paint the full picture, and a New York Times best-seller doesn’t guarantee keynote success.

Why? Because nuance and compatibility still matter.

At GDA Speakers, we leverage thirty years of relationships and event experience with clients to offer an approach or idea that our clients may not have considered. We exist to provide value. To be a partner. To make the contracting process smoother. To ensure logistics are flawless.  To be an extension of our client's team.

In this way, things have remained the same. And for that, I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving from the GDA family.