Event Management

New Bureau Launches to Meet High Demand for AI Speakers

AI expert speaking on stage at a conference

Skift Take

Keynote speakers with expertise in artificial intelligence are in high demand as organizations embrace the new technology. One emerging speakers bureau is crafting bespoke sessions to meet client objectives.

Murmurs of artificial intelligence (AI) have been lurking in the background of the technology landscape for decades before emerging to disrupt every industry, from aerospace to healthcare. Now, planners are eager to book AI experts as speakers for events have a new option.

The demand for AI speakers has been increasing, with major speaker bureaus adding AI to their list of categories covered. “In the past three months, Key Speakers has seen an 18% increase in demand for speakers with expertise in the field of artificial intelligence,” according to Bayli Miller, senior account advisor at Key Speakers

The increased demand has even influenced speakers with related specialties to include AI in their repertoires. “Speakers who are not inherently AI experts have also been branching out with their speech offerings to meet demands in this arena,” Miller said.

A New Offering

As bureaus rush to meet the demand, a new speakers bureau has emerged focused exclusively on AI speakers.

Speak About AI launched in January of this year but was years in the making. The specialized speaker bureau is the brainchild of Robert Strong, a magician of over 35 years who has spent his entire career entertaining at corporate events as well as booking other entertainers.

Through a common friend, Adam Cheyer, the co-founder of Siri and a fellow magician, Strong met a prominent figure in AI, Peter Norvig, a distinguished education fellow at Stanford’s Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Institute and a researcher at Google. He co-authored Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, which is widely considered the preeminent textbook on the topic used by universities worldwide.

Norvig introduced Strong to a slew of AI experts. Speak About AI recently brought Norvig to Santa Clara-based Juniper Networks for a fireside chat presentation. 

The key date was November 2022, when ChatGPT launched and AI became mainstream. Strong witnessed firsthand the AI community bombarded with requests to speak at events. Many AI experts who received requests to speak at events had no prior experience and found themselves unable to manage fees and logistics.

“I’ll manage it,” Strong reassured his overwhelmed friends. “So I started to book the speakers and it was going really well. Everybody was very happy with my white glove service and so I decided to officially launch it.”

Setting the Stage 

While Strong’s personal connections have served as a boon to the promising launch of Speak About AI, he points to his ability to provide an elevated service based on his years of event experience.

“I’m working with the speakers to make sure that they are really keeping in mind what the goal of the producers are and understanding who the attendees are so that those factors are all dialed in,” said Strong. Speak About AI also works with speakers to create custom content.  

Several speakers listed on the company’s site require fees of up to $50,000. “Many of our speakers are in high demand and their time is very limited,” Strong explained. “Others are working on stealth companies and by not putting in the hours on their projects, there is a real opportunity cost.”

In addition to meeting the speaker’s preferences, he also looks for non-monetary ways in which both the speaker and client can benefit. This also includes helping AI experts who are new speakers establish themselves in the event space. Speak About AI’s Marketing Manager Noah Cheyer notes that many new speakers lack experience and onstage footage. “Something that we’ve done is help them create content or work with them on their proposals specifically to help tailor that for a specific organization,” said Cheyer.

As AI continues to impact all aspects of business, the need for knowledgeable and articulate speakers in this domain becomes increasingly crucial. AI experts working with event producers are quickly taking advantage of the profitable opportunity.

Photo credit: Midjourney / Prompt: Passionate AI expert speaking on stage at a conference