Trends in Public Speaking and Thought Leadership for 2024 with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 366

Trends in Public Speaking and Thought Leadership for 2024 with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 366

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Happy New Year! This is the 6th year in a row I’ve done a trends episode for the start of the year.

Trends are like currents or waves of energy that move through our society and affect everything from business and politics and the economy to popular culture and media.

As speakers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders, these trends will impact our thought leadership, our content, and our marketing.

In this episode, you’ll learn 3 trends I’ve identified that are shaping our world:

  • Big changes in social media platforms as the premise of social media shifts from connection to entertainment and it becomes harder to tell what’s real and what’s not
  • The continued rise and more ubiquitous usage of generative AI tools like ChatGPT plus images, video, and voice
  • The internet as a whole is changing, becoming more fragmented and siloed, with network effects accruing to people and brands who already have large followings

I also share specific action steps you can take:

  • Develop a clear and distinct brand voice
  • Imbue your content with soul
  • Focus more on in-person experiences and events

As a speaker, you are well positioned to connect with your audiences in a deeper and more human way.

Want to develop your speaking skills, thought leadership, and signature talk?

Check out our online coaching program the Thought Leader Academy and our upcoming 3-day in-person speaking intensive.

About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com

Links:

Show notes at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/366/

Discover your Speaker Archetype by taking our free quiz at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/quiz/

Enroll in our Thought Leader Academy: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/academy/ 

Attend our 3-day in-person Client Retreat Speaking Intensive in February in Orlando: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/retreat/ 

Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolcox

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366-SYB-Solo-Trends.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

366-SYB-Solo-Trends.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
Here are three trends I’ve identified for 2024 and action steps you can take for your speaking, marketing, and thought leadership on this episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast.

Carol Cox:
More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses, running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a TV political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview and coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies, and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is speaking your brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience.

Hi there and welcome. This is your host, Carol Cox. Happy New Year! I hope you are looking forward to the new Year of 2024. This is the sixth year in a row that I’ve done a trends episode for the start of the year, and so what I mean by trends are not fads or cliches or gimmicks or kind of like what’s hot on TikTok or in marketing right now. Instead, I take a longer view of trends. Trends are like currents or waves of energy that move through our society and affect everything from business and the economy and politics to popular culture and media. In today’s episode, you’re going to learn three trends that I’ve identified for 2024 and action steps that you can take that you can apply to your speaking and your thought leadership. These are big picture concepts that you can apply not only to your presentations and speaking, but to your business and marketing strategy as well.

Carol Cox:
Now, last year, the trends identified in 2023 were number one, the rise of generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT. Number two, the shift from mass audiences in the attention economy to trust based audiences in the imagination economy. And number three, a renewed focus on local in-person activities and business. And I would say that all of these things definitely took place in 2023. And you’re going to see, as I talk about the trends in 2024, that we’re going to see even more of these as they continue to develop. For those of you who are new to the podcast, welcome. I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m Carol Cox, the founder of Speaking Your Brand. We help women entrepreneurs, executives and leaders clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. You can learn more about how we can help you develop your thought leadership and your signature talk, and our Thought Leader Academy at speaking your brand.com/academy again, that’s speaking your brand.com/academy. Now let’s get on with the show. Let’s dive into the three big trends I’m seeing for 2024 and how they’re going to impact your business marketing, speaking and thought leadership. The first trend is around social media platforms. Now, this has been going on for the past couple of years, but we’re going to see it accelerate in 2024, just like we’ve seen it accelerate in 2023.

Carol Cox:
And what I mean by changes in social media platforms is that, number one, there’s a fragmentation of audiences. Five years ago or so, you really had the big three being Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but now you have more social media platforms coming into play and you have really a dispersion of audiences. People are not just solely congregating on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You have the dominance of TikTok, which I’ll talk about more in just a moment. You have also a lot of people using private WhatsApp groups, discord groups as well. So there’s no longer one central place where everyone is congregating or where everyone is in a social media feed. You also have the decline of Twitter, now known as X, ever since Elon Musk purchased it in October of 2022. I have been on Twitter since I think 2008 or 2009, so a really long time. But I have stopped even looking at Twitter over the past year just because the social media feed has degraded so much. And so I think that you’re seeing more and more people leaving Twitter as well to go to different platforms. You have threads which Facebook slash meta slash Instagram launched in the summer of 2023. A lot of people went on to threads. I’m not sure how vibrant of a platform it is, how much people are using it. I created an account there, but I have not been on it since that initial day.

Carol Cox:
So again, we have this kind of fragmentation and dispersion of audiences. We also have the dominance of TikTok and really the dominance of short form video over short text posts and users, according to recent studies, are spending an average of an hour and a half a day on TikTok and an hour on Instagram. And with the dominance of TikTok is telling me is that the premise of social media itself is changing. It used to be that you would create a social media account and then you would follow your friends, your colleagues, people that you interacted with. And of course, you would follow other people like influencers or people you wanted to learn from. But the way the TikTok algorithm works, it’s very different than, say, the Facebook or the Instagram or even the Twitter algorithm in the sense that you don’t really follow friends as much, but that the algorithm feeds you videos that it thinks that you’re going to like based on your past viewing history. That’s why also, the TikTok algorithm has been called so addictive because it understands you really well based on your viewing habits and keeps feeding you those types of videos, which is why people are spending an hour and a half on it per day. I’ve also seen articles about the decline of influencers on these platforms because the algorithms are not giving them as much reach as they used to.

Carol Cox:
It’s harder and harder for people to see the content of the people that they’ve chosen to follow. Also, a lot of influencers have gotten a bad rap for promoting bad products. You have influencers on TikTok and Instagram who are being paid by lobbying groups to promote products or to say things about things, and not just not disclosing that they’re being paid. So there’s a lot of going on in the influencer space that I think is causing a backlash. Also with the social media algorithms, and this is true for all the different platforms, is that their algorithms are optimized for what they call engagement. And we, as we have seen for the past number of years, that outrage tends to lead to a lot of engagement. So now a lot of people are manufacturing outrage at every single thing that goes on in the world. In order to increase the views and engagement on their post, there was an article in HubSpot, which is a marketing platform, just in November. So just a couple of months ago, and the article was headlined Is Social Media Dying? And here’s a quote from the article. It said businesses on social media may benefit from focusing less on engagement in the hard sell, and more on generating conversation among potential customers and getting potential buyers to engage offline through in-person communities and experiential marketing. So I’m going to come back to that in the action steps in just a little bit.

Carol Cox:
So this is trend number one. These big changes in social media platforms, the fragmentation and dispersion of audiences, the dominance of TikTok as an algorithm in the sense that it’s shifting the original premise of social media from following friends and colleagues and people, you know, to just being served what really is, in a sense, just entertainment. It’s not really social media, it’s entertainment. And I feel like that’s what a lot of these social media platforms are going to be shifting to because of the dominance of TikTok. Trend number two is we’re going to see the continued rise in more. Buddhist usage of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. So the writing tool, but now also with images, video and voice. So of course this is going to impact not only the content that we’re seeing and the content we’re creating, but obviously the election that’s coming up in 2024 as well. I was watching a live stream of a panel discussion on YouTube just this past November. So just a couple of months ago, and they were talking about election security. So they had the panelists answer a question, and then they played an AI generated video of one of the panelists that they had prepared in advance. So they took his video and his voice, his likeness, put it through these AI tools and created him answering the question as his AI avatar and as you’re watching it. And I’ll link to this YouTube video in the show notes so you can go see it.

Carol Cox:
And I’ll put the the minute marker on there so you can just jump to that part. But when you watch this video and it’s kind of like he’s on zoom and he just has, you know, like anyone else you would see on zoom. And unless you were looking really, really carefully and you knew what you were looking for, I don’t think you would have known that it was AI generated. And so imagine now you’re seeing videos online, even what looks like, say, zoom videos or webinars, and you don’t even know if the person is real or not, or if it’s an AI generated creation. The other thing with these generative AI tools is that the cost of creating content is now nearly zero. The power of social media ten plus years ago was at the cost of distribution became near zero, so it didn’t really cost anyone anything to put their content out on all these platforms, other than, of course, the time it took to post there. So the cost of distribution was near zero, but it still took a lot of human effort to create the content. But now the cost of creation is near zero with these AI tools. So there’s going to be more content everywhere because it’s easy and costless to create. Of course, as humans, it costs us a lot more time and money to create great content, interesting content, meaningful content, thought provoking content.

Carol Cox:
And what we humans can do is determine what problems need to be solved and how we can make things better. So if you think about for your own content, whether it’s content you’re posting online or content in your presentations is help your audiences think differently and imagine what’s possible for them, instead of just providing all these tips and tactics and what I call the expert trap. Instead, bring in your thought leadership into the content that you’re putting out there. Related to the increased usage of the generative AI tools like ChatGPT and images, video and voice is that AI is changing search uses, so it’s changing the way people use search. A lot more people are using, say, ChatGPT to look for something instead of using Google Search. It’s also changing the search results themselves. Researchers have found that there are a lot more generative AI images and of course, articles that are showing up in Google search results. And so you may not necessarily know what’s real and what’s not, what’s AI generated and what’s not. But also, I think a lot of websites are going to see a drop in organic traffic because people are not going to be using search engines like they used to. And if they’re using, say, tools like ChatGPT to look up information, there are no search results in there. There’s no place for them to click to go to your website.

Carol Cox:
And then finally, related to this trend around AI. Ai is going to change how we do certain tasks. It’s going to change our workflow, how we approach the the activities that we do. I teach business and marketing at a university, and just this past December, a month ago, I taught a four week class all around AI and marketing how AI is changing marketing. Imagine in the not too distant future, as in in 2024, that AI can create and deploy an entire marketing campaign so it can take, say, your ideal customer avatar can take information about your business and your offerings, create an entire marketing campaign, create all the content, post all of the content, measure and track all of the results by the content of the content. And it can do it all through AI agents that are doing this autonomously. Now, of course, you could check all the work before it gets published or before it gets distributed, but really, all of that can be done by AI. So that’s trend number two. The continued rise and more ubiquitous uses of AI tools. The first two trends around social media and AI is leading to trend number three, which that I feel like the internet as a whole is changing. I think people our age. So I’m Gen X and probably older millennials as well, are just tired of social media and tired of being online.

Carol Cox:
We’re old enough to have had a good part of our of our growing up, of our upbringing, not online. And I feel like the promise of the internet and the promise of social media has. They got into this darker side. And as I mentioned in the trend around social media, is that I feel like so many people on social media now, when they create content, it’s all about capitalizing on what the algorithm wants. And I get it because they have to they have to get views on their on their posts. They have to get engagement in order to meet the goals that they have. But unfortunately, these algorithms are leveraging outrage, righteous indignation, anger, polarization also just a lot of fads. I was reading an article and I don’t use TikTok, but I bet not too long ago there was a fad on TikTok where everyone was posting videos of things being tied up with pink bows. So you know, you would not just like a present, but you would put a pink bow around a box or your phone or a piece of food. I don’t, I don’t really understand, but it’s I don’t know, I just feel like maybe I’m just like old, like, you know, get off my lawn type of thing. But I just feel like just, you know, there’s so much to life that to experience. And having social media just kind of scrolling on social media for an hour or two a day just feels like such a waste of our human potential.

Carol Cox:
The other thing that’s changing about the internet is that it used to be where the internet was kind of like a destination. So if you’re if you were quote unquote on the internet or on social media, you were aware of something that happened like a viral trend and everyone would know about it. Remember those those that dress from a number of years ago where some people saw it was blue and some people saw, I don’t know if it was silver or something. It was kind of like going back and forth, but everyone who was quote unquote on the internet knew about that trend. But that’s not the case anymore. There was a recent article in The Atlantic by Charlie Warzel, and he talked about this fragmented internet, which is that popular content is being consumed at an astounding scale. Yet popularity and even celebrity feel miniaturized and siloed. And he continued on in the article, we live in a world where it’s easier than ever to be blissfully unaware of things that other people are consuming is also easier than ever to assign outsized importance to information or trends that may feel popular but are actually contained, like those pink bows on TikTok. I’m sure it was just a very subset of people who saw that, and then whoever wrote the article about that, this is another instance of the internet changing.

Carol Cox:
There was an article that I read where it listed the top podcast for 2023. I think there were 25 on the list of the 25 on the list. I had only had heard of two of them. And I’m, I’m and I listened to a lot of podcasts and I follow podcasting as an industry, and I only had heard of two of them. Netflix released their top watched TV shows and movies of the year, and one of them was called The Night Agent. And it had, I don’t know, like a crazy number of views worldwide and all these articles I read and the people writing the articles were like, wow, I never had even heard of this show or had never even watched it. Yet it was the most popular show on Netflix by far. And so this is where we’re seeing, again, this fragmentation of not only of social media, but fragmentation of the internet and of content that people are consuming, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just something different. It’s a trend that we’re seeing because of the fragmentation of social media and the internet and of content. We’re in a place now where network effects are going to be even more important. Network effects mean the people, the influencers and the brands who are already popular are going to continue to exponentially grow because they already have a really large fan base and follower base. An author that I follow, Cal Newport, who wrote the the book Deep Work, he wrote in a blog post recently that he said, quote, an online world in which it’s hard to be a superstar but easier to find a real sense of community.

Carol Cox:
Sounds like a good trade off to me. And it continues. Back in the early 2000, there were no likes or viral posts, but I still felt connected to the people that I followed. Can’t that be good enough? So do we all need to be superstars or influencers on social media to have a thriving business, or to have a thriving speaking career? And the answer is no. I only use LinkedIn as a social media platform. I like it because it’s professional. I like to see the the clients that we worked with and what they’re doing, the speaking engagements that they’re doing, the boards that they’re getting on, the awards that they’re winning. So I like to celebrate them. And so I have a thriving business and a thriving speaking career without being a superstar or an influencer on social media platforms. And all of our clients are the same way. And the last thing I’ll say about this trend number three, the internet as a whole is changing is that I really think that we’re starting to realize more and more with all the studies that are coming out and just our own experience, that we’re realizing what we’ve lost both individually and collectively as a society.

Carol Cox:
With so many people being addicted to being online, to being addicted to their phones, to be addicted. To the social media outrage. And I think we’re realizing that there is a better way. There is something better that we can do. All right, so those were the three big trends that I’m seeing for 2024, the change in social media platforms, the continued use of generative AI tools, and how that’s going to impact everything from social media content to search to the election this year. And then number three, how the internet as a whole is changing. So now where does that leave you? Where does that leave me? Where does that leave us? What can we do so that we can reach the audiences that we want to, so we can have the positive impact and share our messages and our stories? Here are three action steps. Number one is to develop your own distinct and clear voice. Your audiences, whether they’re online or in person, are distracted. They have so much information coming at them. From social media to the news. They have so many options for people to follow, people to learn from, people to listen to. And so audiences, just like you are asking themselves, what is truly useful? What’s the best use of my time and attention? What is authentic and what is not? What is real in this, and literally what is real and what is not? Who can I trust? Who can I trust to give me accurate and thoughtful information? And developing your own distinct and clear voice really has a lot to do with trust and authenticity.

Carol Cox:
Merriam-webster. The dictionary chose authentic at its word of the year because it said that authenticity is now a gold standard for building trust, especially as artificial intelligence and misinformation abound. And Merriam-Webster went on to say that the world is facing a crisis of authenticity that has led people to value truth more than ever. So how can you do this? Is share stories, share those lessons learned. Offer ideas and insights. Ask questions of your audience. Give them big pictures like the trends that I’m sharing with you here today. Develop your voice. Develop your perspective. Develop your thought leadership. Develop your opinions. Develop your viewpoint on things that are going on with your within your industry and within your society. The other thing related to developing your distinct and clear voice is use AI to your advantage. Ai is is an incredible collaborative partner. We did an AI for speakers workshop in December and it was such a hit, and I talked a lot about having I understand your brand voice so that it can write more like you and share more of what makes you human. But by leveraging these AI tools to help you optimize and streamline and create better content. So in that workshop, I talked about the brand voice canvas that I came up with and around making sure that you identify your brand voice around your mission, your expertise, your methodology, and your experiences.

Carol Cox:
I have a couple of podcasts that I’ve done around Brand Voice, and I’ll link to those in the show notes. The thing with AI is that you can now create what are called custom GPT in chat GPT plus, and with custom GPT, you can feed it your content, your frameworks, your methodologies so that it starts to write in your voice and starts, starts giving back the type of content that is more reflective of what you talk about. Instead of the generic internet voice that regular chat GPT uses. So that was number one. Develop your clear and distinct voice. Number two is imbue your content with soul. So this is very much related to your voice. We’re increasingly seeking genuine connections with other people, especially as more and more AI avatars are going to be online. We’re really going to want to know who is a real person and who is not your brand, your content, your presentations need soul. And so I was like, okay, well, let me go find what the definition of soul is. So I put in definition of soul into Google Search. And Google came back with its definition using its generative AI search tool. So here’s what it said. It said in religion and philosophy, the soul is the immaterial part of a person that gives them individuality and humanity.

Carol Cox:
It’s often considered to be synonymous with the mind or the self in general language. The soul is the deepest center of a person’s identity and the seat of their most important moral, emotional, and aesthetic experiences. The soul is a quality that gives emotional force and effectiveness to a performance, a work of art, etc. I think that’s a pretty good and robust definition of soul. So thinking about your own content, your own presentations, your own brand, your own thought leadership is really putting soul into it. So what is soul? Your stories that that storytelling that is that moral, emotional and aesthetic experiences offering originality, ideas and insights, understanding your audience and providing them with validation and empathy and sharing those hard won lessons learned. And you. Can do this online through video and audio. You can do it through your your writing. You can do it. Editorials and opinions, stories, ideas, lessons, all of those things are going to help your content have more soul action. Step number three is to focus more on in-person experiences. Because when you’re standing in front of an audience in person, the audience knows that it’s really you. Plus you’re connecting with them on a deeper level. They are much less distracted. They’re not seeing a zillion things on their phone along with your content. They’re focused on you, so you can create that really unique and special connection with them.

Carol Cox:
And we’re seeing this desire for in-person experiences across the industry. Just look at live music and tours. Obviously, the success of Taylor Swift and Beyonce and the tours that they did in 2023, more and more people are saying that they’re valuing in-person experiences, travel, concerts, the same thing for business and industry. Time magazine says it’s expanding its events division because it feels like in-person events are going to be more and more desirable. And so think about for yourself, how can you make sure that you’re attending and speaking at more and more in-person events and conferences? We’re so used to spending so much time online and on social media, obviously since the start of the pandemic as well. So what I’m going to try to do, and you can do this as well, is take 1 or 2 hours a week that you normally are spending online, say on social media, take them, take 1 or 2 hours a week and use that time instead. For in-person marketing and visibility, look for speaking engagements, submit to speak at conferences, find local groups and events and attend them. Get to know the event organizers and the members and offer to speak there. Build your local network. I think that’s going to be so important going forward. The other thing is that pendulums swing back and forth. I is hot right now. It has been for the past year, but we’re going to see kind of a backlash for that, where people are going to want to prioritize in person and they’re going to want to be able to hear and see people who that they know are real, to meet people face to face.

Carol Cox:
So now is the time to get prepared to be a fantastic speaker that events and companies want to hire. And two ways that you can work with this to develop your thought leadership and your public speaking. One is through our online program called the Thought Leader Academy. Our next start date is January 16th. You can get all the details of speaking your brand.com/academy. The other thing is that we have our three day in-person client retreat Speaking Intensive that is happening at the end of February in Orlando, Florida. We bring 12 women together for three days of instruction, practice on our stage, coaching and feedback. And then the third day, you get professional filming of your speaking segments that you can use for your speaker reel. You can get all the details on the retreat as speaking your brand.com/retreat. And our next episode we’re going to talk about specific steps you can use for creating your speaking and visibility plan, because hopefully you are now persuaded that public speaking, especially in person, is going to be the best way for you to connect with your audiences and to connect with potential clients. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Let me know what you thought. And until next time, thanks for listening.

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