The 5 questions to ask a
futurist keynote speaker
• In a rapidly changing world, lots
of event planners look to a
futurist keynote speaker to set
the tone for their event. They are
hoping to bring their audience
compelling insights based on
reliable data. As in so many
things, the quality varies
distinctly from speaker to
• Here are some questions for you
to consider before you decide
on a keynote for your next event.
1. WHAT TRAINING DO THEY HAVE
AS A FUTURIST?
• There is a big difference between
being a person with some
interesting things to say and a
professional futurist. The ﬁeld of
futures studies is nearly 50 years
old, with deep organizational roots
in the management of large
organizations such as government
agencies and corporations.
• Ask if the potential futurist keynote
speaker has a professional or
educational background in the
methodologies of studying future
trends, such technology foresight
and scenario planning.
2. HAVE THEY EVER WORKED AS A
• There are some people who give a few interviews
with decent insights and – poof! – they are a
newly minted futurist keynote speaker. Yet the
real job of changing people’s minds with data
and analysis takes time and experience to learn.
• Ask if the speaker has actually worked with
executives at major corporations and
governments to ﬁnd out whether they have real-
world experience looking at future trends for
• Have they worked closely with executives who
will push back on unfamiliar information? Do they
know how to get around obstacles? Can they
motivate action after the speech is over?
3. DO THEY DISCUSS TECHNOLOGY
ALONE, OR ITS IMPLICATIONS?
Talking about new gadgets is fun
and engaging. After all, you would
need to be blind not to notice how
technology changes our world. But
the usefulness of a futurist to an
audience is the ability to discuss
changing technology and the
critical implications on society,
economics, and ultimately the
industry that your audience cares
about. Will the speech be broad
enough to reach the audience
about what matters?
4. WILL THEY BRING RECENT,
RELEVANT TREND DATA?
The world is changing so quickly
that there is no room for slide
decks that date back to the last
decade. Will your futurist
keynote speaker be bringing
relevant trend data from their
own research that applies to the
topic at hand, or will they be
recycling information that has
worked “well enough” for a few
5. ARE THEIR PRESENTATIONS
CANNED OR CUSTOMIZED?
• The pharmaceutical industry and
a state economic development
corporation share little in common.
Unfortunately, there are speakers
who will attempt to take a one-
size-ﬁts-all approach to
presentations, shoehorning the
same content into the meetings of
any number of industries.
• Are you conﬁdent that the
presentation will involve reliable
trend data that ﬁts your audience?
Interested in more tips on running
a meeting about future trends?
• Download my free tip guide entitled “5 Tips on How to Run
a Meeting on Future Trends" at:
• In it, you’ll ﬁnd even more insights into how to design a
successful event that provides your audience with
proﬁtable ideas (and an enjoyable time at your event.)