Top 10 Keynote Speaking Topics

What were people talking about in 2020? After examining our event data for 2020, BigSpeak found the top ten keynote speaking topics were different than in 2019. Leadership, Team Building and Innovation moved up the ranks to top three topics this past year.  

In the wake of the pandemic and changing social dynamics, Fortune 1000 companies, Silicon Valley, and private enterprise looked for more insights into leadership, team building, future trends, and diversity and inclusion and less for sales and customer experience. 

For a full list of the top ten keynote speaking topics and keynote experts in that topic, keep reading.


1. Leadership

All companies need great leaders to thrive, but in 2020 we all needed good leadership to guide us safely through one crisis to the next. Companies looked for tips on how to inspire their teams and empower their employees. Three of the top leadership speakers in 2020 were Thomas Kolditz, Marc Randolph, and Jocko Willink.


Thomas Kolditz

Thomas Kolditz is a leadership speaker and expert, retired Brigadier General, author of In Extremis Leadership: Leading as if Your Life Depended on It.  


Marc Randolph

Netflix co-founder, angel investor, and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of That Will Never Work, Marc Randolph is a top entrepreneur and innovation speaker. 


Jocko Willink

John “Jocko” Willink is a top leadership speaker who served two decades as a Navy SEAL and provides unparalleled insight into leadership and team management.


2. Team Building

Great companies have great teams, but how do you stay working as a team when everyone is working from home? Companies reached out to top athletes, company founders, and former military leaders on how teams could better communicate and collaborate. Two of the top team building keynote speakers in 2020 were Robyn Benincasa and Vernice “Flygirl” Armour.


Robyn Benincasa 

Robyn Benincasa is a top speaker on teamwork, a CNN Hero, adventure racing world champion, San Diego firefighter, and bestselling author of How Winning Works


Vernice Flygirl Armour

Vernice is a top teamwork keynote speaker and the first African-American female Marine combat pilot. Her talks inspire audiences to take ownership of their own work and lives.


3. Innovation

One question all companies wanted to be answered in 2020 was how to innovate in the pandemic. Companies reached out to experts who were successful startup CEOs, creative artists, and innovation researchers to provide insights on how to construct teams and reframe problems to find new solutions during this crisis. Two of the top innovation keynote speakers in 2020 were Jeff DeGraff and Tan Le.


Jeff DeGraff 

Jeff DeGraff is the Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where he teaches leading creativity, innovation and change.


Tan Le

Tan Le is a top innovation speaker, entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of EMOTIV who uses technology to add a hands-on element to her talks.


4. Storytelling

Communication is essential to great leadership and teamwork, and storytelling is the key to unlocking great communication. Whether we are talking about our day, pitching a business idea to an investor, or trying to reframe a crisis into an opportunity, we all use the framework of stories to inform people and move them to action. The top storytelling speaker of 2020 was former Pixar story artist and animator, Matthew Luhn.


Matthew Luhn

Matthew Luhn is an accomplished storyteller and business consultant, with over 25 years’ experience working on Toy Story films, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and more at Pixar.


5. Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion were at the forefront in 2020 with movements like Black Lives Matter calling for changes in business and society. However, diversity is not just a social issue; it’s a business issue as well. Research has shown a diverse workforce can contribute to increased staff retention and productivity. Two of the top diversity and inclusion keynote speakers were Risha Grant and Marcus Collins.


Risha Grant 

Risha Grant is a top diversity and inclusion virtual keynote speaker, founder & CEO of Risha Grant LLC, an award-winning diversity consulting and communications firm, and author of That’s BS! How Bias Synapse Disrupts Inclusive Cultures.


Marcus Collins 

Marcus Collins is a former Head of Digital Strategy for Beyoncé and a Marketing Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. Over the last decade, Marcus has helped “blue-chip” brands navigate the challenges of digital transformation.


6. Future Trends

Every leader and business wanted a crystal ball in 2020 to see how the pandemic would change their industry. These keynote speakers used a systematic and pattern-based understanding of the past and present to help companies forecast where they should look for 2020 and beyond. Three of the top future trends keynote speakers in 2020 were Mitch Lowe, Heather McGowan and Natalie Nixon.


Mitch Lowe

Mitch Lowe is a top business keynote speaker, former COO of Redbox, and founding executive of Netflix, who speaks on how future trends will disrupt industries.


Heather McGowan

Heather McGowan is a top future of work keynote speaker, remote work expert, and author of The Adaptation Advantage


Natalie Nixon

Natalie Nixon is a strategy, foresight and innovation expert who advises leaders on unique approaches to understand future trends.


7. Technology

Technology was on everyone’s mind in 2020 as we all worked from home and industries became more automated. These keynote speakers helped companies understand developments in areas like machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence that were reshaping industries. Two of the top technology keynote speakers in 2020 were Adam Cheyer and Janelle Shane.


Adam Cheyer

Adam Cheyer is a top A.I. expert and Co-Founder of Siri. His talks focus on the future of artificial intelligence and how it will affect your business.


Janelle Shane

Janelle Shane is a machine learning expert and artificial intelligence humorist. In 2019, she was named one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business and her TED talk, “The danger of AI is weirder than you think” has almost 2 million views.


8. Celebrity

Celebrity speakers were in high demand in 2020 due to the pandemic limiting the entertainment and sports industries. Companies reached out to world-class athletes and entertainers to provide insight and joy in a difficult year. Two of the top celebrity keynote speakers in 2020 were Magic Johnson and Kevin O’Leary.


Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson is a top celebrity keynote speaker, former NBA great, and Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. Audiences learned about Magic’s mindset for success that made him an NBA champion and a successful businessman


Kevin O’Leary

Kevin O’Leary is a top celebrity keynote speaker, venture capitalist, and a guest judge on Shark Tank whose winning personality charms businesses audiences everywhere. 


9. Emotional Intelligence

2020 was the year we all needed our emotional intelligence to help us through tough times. Emotional intelligence is the key to good relationships with your colleagues and your customers. These keynote speakers taught companies how to negotiate the pandemic with class and finesse. Three of the top emotional intelligence keynote speakers in 2020 were JP Pawliw-Fry, Bill Benjamin, and Jia Jiang.


JP Pawliw Fry 

JP Pawliw-Fry is an internationally renowned thought leader in emotional intelligence and managing under pressure, as well as the co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Performing Under Pressure.


Bill Benjamin

Bill Benjamin is a top emotional intelligence keynote speaker and a thought leader on the subjects of leadership and peak performance.


Jia Jiang

Jia Jiang is a top resilience keynote speaker with the most viewed TED Talk of 2017. Jiang provides the inspiration and knowledge for organizations and teams to become fearless by learning the mindset of resilience.


10. Motivation

In a year of crisis, how could we stay motivated? Companies reached out to thought leaders, championship athletes, and extraordinary individuals to learn how they overcame setbacks to reach their goals. Three of the top motivational keynote speakers in 2020 were Molly Bloom, James Lawrence, and James Clear.


Molly Bloom 

Molly Bloom is a top inspirational keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and bestselling author of Molly’s Game. Bloom’s business success story has inspired hundreds of business audiences


James Lawrence 

James Lawrence, aka The Iron Cowboy, is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete. James gives insights on the lessons he learned of how to overcome his mental and physical limits when he completed 50 full distance triathlon in 50 states in 50 consecutive days (50.50.50).


James Clear

James Clear is a personal development keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling author of Atomic Habits. James shows audiences how small habits, decision-making, and continuous improvement can lead you to the life you want.


Whether you’re looking to do an online conference, virtual keynote, online function, or Zoom meeting, choose a top keynote speaker who can deliver an exciting talk from one of the top 10 keynote speaking topics in 2020. Call BigSpeak today.

BigSpeak motivational speakers bureau represents many of the top keynote speakers in the top ten most popular keynote speaking topics of 2020. If you’re looking for a top 10 topic keynote speaker for your conference, event, or online event, BigSpeak can connect you with the perfect keynote speaker to give you the latest tips and insights into your topic of interest.