A Tale Of Two Tribes – Keynote Speakers vs Platform Speakers vs Motivational Speakers vs Inspirational Speakers
There often appears to be two competing tribes in the speaking business. These two types of speakers often view each other with a mixture of envy, suspicion and sometimes a grudging respect. This two-tribes view became apparent recently in a debate that was raging on a popular Facebook group for speakers about the efficacy of one particular speaker. In this video I explain how the tribes work and the rise of the third tribe or ‘hybrid speaker’.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Keynote speakers
- Platform speakers
- Motivational speakers
- Inspirational speakers
- Professional speakers
- Third tribe
- Hybrid speakers
There often appears to be two competing tribes in the speaking business. These two types of speakers often view each other with a mixture of envy, suspicion and sometimes a grudging respect. This two-tribes view became apparent recently in a debate that was raging on a popular Facebook group for speakers about the efficacy of one particular speaker. Let me explain…
You see in the red corner we have the ‘keynote tribe’. These are the craftsmen and women carefully sculpting their 60 minute keynotes and delivering it on stages around the world to corporate clients and associations. The best of them are masterful storytellers and when not on conference stages transforming audiences you’ll find them in an airport lounge clocking up their airmiles. The watering holes for this tribe are at speakers association events, speaker masterminds or in one of the many Facebook and LinkedIn groups that they are members of.
Keynote speakers are the roadwarriors, a small percentage of whom give 100+ keynotes a year and make $10,000 and up for an hours speech on the main stage at a conference. The vast majority however earn less than $20,000 a year from speaking and so supplement it with consulting, coaching and training. Their role models are other keynote speakers whose TEDTalks, YouTube video and books they devour. At the higher end they nearly all want to be on the road less so they can spend more time with family (this tribe has a higher than average rate of divorce).
Meanwhile in the blue corner there are the ‘Platform Speakers’. They see speaking on stages as just one of their many income streams, and often it will be the least profitable one at that. The majority of them speak for free in order to ‘sell from the stage’. Over 90% of speakers in the world are platform speakers. The very best of them are extremely skilled in sales psychology and when not on stages they are probably working on the launch of their next product, program, online course or seminar. You sometimes hear Platform Speakers referred to as Seminar Speakers because they will often host their own workshops and multi-day events where they and other platform speakers sell from the stage.
Platform speakers are the entrepreneurs of the speaking world and it is not uncommon to find these kinds of speakers with multi-million dollar businesses. Even top keynote speakers struggle to make over a million dollars a year from just speaking on stages because there are only so many days in the year. Platform speakers see speaking as just one part of an integrated product suite they offer to clients. Their role models are other gurus and experts whose latest product it seems that everyone is talking about or promoting. There is a saying that the grass is always greener on the other side. Keynote speakers want the evergreen income streams of the Platform speakers while the Platform speakers want the perceived respect that comes with being a great keynote speaker.
There are two other types of speakers you will often hear discussed; motivational speakers and inspirational speakers. You will find both types in each tribe. You can have motivational keynote speakers and motivational platform speakers. My own view is that motivational speakers are about efficiency; getting things done, productivity, mastering your job. Meanwhile inspirational speakers are more about effectiveness; they are the visionaries and thought leaders who ask the ‘what if’ question to their audiences. In reality the difference between a motivational speaker and an inspiration speaker are quite subtle.
Now back to that Facebook post where some speakers were criticising another speaker. The issue was that this Facebook group was primarily for aspiring and professional keynote speakers whereas the person they were criticising was a platform speaker. It’s like trying to compare apples and oranges. Each tribe are coming from a different perspective and have very different goals, objectives and what they consider ‘success’ to look like.
Einstein said that “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
So my advice for aspiring speakers is first ask yourself what kind of speaker you want to be. This will determine the role models and business model you will select.
Meanwhile if you are an event planner looking to book your next speaker then you need to understand from which tribe you are selecting your speakers.
One final note I think there is a small but increasing number of what I call ‘hybrid speakers’. They are able to combine being a great keynote speaker with the multiple evergreen revenue streams of a platform speaker. I count myself amongst this third tribe of hybrid speakers. In my case I am booked by event planners, associations and businesses because they see me as an inspirational keynote speaker. My keynote speaking business is all about inspring a business audience and I never sell from the stage. However I also have another part of my business which is for the public where I offer products and programs for individuals to buy. I think in order to be a successful hybrid speaker you must be willing to wear different hats at different times and adjust your message and offerings to suit.
If you are a speaker and would like to receive my free directory of speaking opportunities then click on the link below. Meanwhile if you are looking for an inspirational keynote speaker for your next event then go to jamestaylor.me/speaking
Thanks for watching.