2021: To Smoother Roads Ahead

Gail Davis, 07 January 2021

2021 Here We Come!

GDA Team


I love a road trip. I often drive from Dallas to my hometown in Oklahoma to visit my family. I enjoy the scenery, listening to podcasts, and just the relaxation of the familiar route. Most of the time, it’s an easy drive. But occasionally, I’ll run into that dreaded orange road “detour ahead” construction sign and I feel the frustration set in. When the sign indicates 5 or 10 miles ahead, I think to myself “OK, this won’t last too long.”  But then there are those times, I’ll come across a detour sign and there is no mileage listed. Suddenly, I find myself on some uneven, bumpy road that’s taking me way off track - and I don’t know when it’s going to end. 


To me, that was 2020. I think it’s safe to say the last 9 months we’ve all been traveling a no-mileage indicated detour path.  


The pandemic affected so many - and heartbreak hit close to home. Reflecting now, last year was significant in numerous ways, but professionally, especially for those of us in the event industry. Unlike other businesses, I’m grateful GDA and our industry was able to redirect, making adjustments for our clients.  Who knew virtual speaking engagements would become the new thing.  And as with anything new, we had a learning curve, but we are in a groove now and I want to share what our clients, speakers, and GDA learned together.


Related to a virtual experience, here are some key takeaways:
  • Successful virtual speakers took time to learn the technology and often invested in studios for a translatable in-person, professional vibe. Moderated Q&A sessions became popular. 45-50 minutes seems to be the virtual time sweet spot.
  • Clients, speakers, and a GDA events team member working together and combining tech checks with content calls proved to be a valuable use of time for all. 
  • Zoom fatigue became a concern, however, we found when the speaker is interesting, informative, and presents relevant content, people love it. It’s like binging a Netflix show, if it’s a good show, people are happy to sit and watch the screen. 
  • Early on, speakers fees were all over the map. And once speakers understood the time, energy, and effort it takes to produce a quality, virtual event, we now see more standardization on fees. A fee reduction of a maximum of 25% seems to be closer to the norm. We also saw use rights become a contractual issue for virtual presentations, as well as social media requests. We learned a lot, and our GDA team members can work with you on specific speaker requirements.


By the fall of 2020, we saw clients and speakers embracing virtual events. The comparison to face-to-face meetings decreased. Even virtual fundraisers became a hit. A virtual meeting didn’t mean all in one sitting, sessions could be spread out. Attendees could view presentations at various times. Often a virtual event could include a Master of Ceremonies and entertainment. Our GDA team gained tremendous knowledge and became even more creative when finding the best fit for your speaking and meeting needs.


Yes, there are still uncertainties early on in this new year. But I do believe the road is becoming less bumpy and we’re closer to our destination. I also believe virtual events will remain and in-person events will be back. They may look a little different, with fewer attendees, but we will be reconnecting, learning, and sharing in person in 2021. Whatever your speaking needs may be, GDA remains ready and able to partner with you to create the ultimate client experience.