David Zach
But maybe Dave's not your best speaker option if:

1. You have a corporate event.

I’m the guy who’s best at association events, where people are gathered for a larger issue. In my years of speaking, I’ve found that corporate events are too often not relaxed enough to really explore the ideas. 

2. You don’t want funny.

Years ago, I was the leading contender to keynote Enron’s second to last annual meeting. I made it up the approval chain to the executive level, where someone – not naming names here – said, “No, he’s too funny. Enron is a serious business.” Sure seems like it was a funny business now...

3. You want predictions.

First of all, if I were a good futurist, I wouldn’t make predictions, I’d make forecasts. And, honestly, I really don’t even make forecasts. I do something much better and more useful. I help you make your own forecasts by providing you with fascinating updates to what’s going on right now and then I provide you with ways to think about the future, using such frameworks as: a.) Fads, trends and principles, b.) Implications x 3, and c.) What else needs your curiosity? Tools like these help you to understand “How to Think” about trends and traditions, and thereby, you’re less likely to be fooled into being told “What to Think” about the fancy new future. 

4. You’re too busy to think about all of this.

Me too. If I have to sell my presentations to you, then you probably really do want someone to come in and predict the future. In short, my talks are bought, not sold. I can tell you about them, but the buying is your decision. 

Let me explain. My second real job was at Northwestern Mutual as a corporate planner. It was called “The Quiet Company” back then. NM did very subtle marketing, using instead their own agents to sell the policies. Wanting to know a bit more about “where the money comes from,” I was the first non-agent in company history to go through agent training without wanting to become an agent. What I really wanted was to know how agents think. The key take away, that all life agents know, is that “Life insurance is sold, not bought.” 

Most people don’t realize the value of long-range thinking in terms of risks, rewards and planning for contingencies. They don’t think, “Oh, I should buy life insurance.” Good agents take a complex set of thinking tools and make them simple. The policies are in that sense, “sold” to policy holders. Agents use their heads to reach the gut-level feelings that people have about protecting their families. 

Another thing that I learned is that the successful agents also did very little advertising. They use word-of-mouth marketing, which is all about networks and having good will attached to their names. 

In the 40some years of speaking, I never marketed. It was all based on name recognition and good will attached to my name. After a few years, I even dropped my company name of Innovative Futures, because it was just one more thing for people to remember. As I was the only product of my company, it seemed like truth in advertising to just go with my name and title: David Zach, Futurist. It worked. 

If you’re wondering about hiring David Zach to be your next speaker, here are a few considerations:

1. You want credentials. 

In 1981, I earned a master’s degree in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston. (That's a real degree from a real university.) If you’re going to position a Futurist on the program, it’s important for your audience to know the speaker's not just making this stuff up. With over 1500 keynote talks so far, I've got a track record that’s easy to search and find. For instance, check out my extensive list of previous clients. 

2. You want funny. 

Though I will not market myself as a humorist, audience members always marvel at how they expected a dry and statistical talk from a futurist, and got one where they were laughing continually — with the humor always making a point and always holding their attention. If you can laugh at the future, it’s not as threatening, so people can be learning instead of worrying. 

3. You want serious. 

One minute they’re laughing and in the next, you can hear a pin drop. Weaving fascinating innovations with profound implications, those who hear my talks find themselves deep in thought one moment and then engaged in some of the best conversations they’ve had in years. This makes for memorable meetings and a good reason to have me open your event.

4. You want connections, not platitudes. 

My talks are never canned. I have a variety of themes used to weave together facts, issues and trends that are pointed in towards the concerns of your audience. Because I've spoken to so many different industries and is continually reading to keep up with both trends and traditions, the talks connect to not just an audience's work, they also connect to day-to-day life and concerns.

5. You don't want predictions.

No, really. You don't want predictions. Let's explore this one with a bit of depth. Many so-called Futurists will pile on statistics with exact forecasts of how to win the future. When you hear a prediction, always ask: "Is there a profit motive behind the prophet motive? If we do what they say, do they get rich or gain power?" If they're selling you very seductive messages of "What to Think" about the future, you're really being sold (yet again) a new form of snake oil. In case you hadn't noticed, far too many predictions have led us into this "fog of progress" where uncertain grows with each seductive new plan. But as has been said, the first casualty in a battle is the plan. We should have eventually learned that planning is more important than any plan.

The sort of Futurist who can really bring value to your audience is one who helps them understand "How to Think" about the future; and how to think more clearly about planning. For instance, what's the balance between change and continuity? For too long we've all been told to be Change Agents, but shouldn't there be some attention given towards being Agents of Tradition? If everything changes, that's is essentially saying that we have learned nothing – and all the sacrifices from the past were wasted. It should be clear by now that not all change is progress and sometimes the most radical thing one can do, in the midst of the fog, is to not change. In a time of tumultuous change, the first task is not to predict the next change, it is to find the things that don't change or shouldn't change. Find your foundations first, then build the changes upon that.

6. You want engagement.

I don’t go to speaker conventions or Futurist meetings. I attend the meetings I speak at and make an effort to figure out how all the thinking that’s going on in each those different industries can be connected into yours. Sometimes it’s the conversations that we have off the stage that people appreciate the most. I know how to think into other boxes. 

7. You want stage presence.

It’s more than just being on stage, it’s knowing how to hold an audience so they’ll remember what was said and tell others. It’s about capturing imagination and taking people on a fascinating journey into the future and change the way they see things. It’s about an unexpected delight in the form of a talk that connects the past to the future and all that we care about right now. 

8. I’ll say thank you.

Audience members will often comment about how obvious it is that I love speaking to them. They also say I'm fairly down to earth, easy to work with and genuinely interested in sharing my time and my attention. I'm grateful to have the chance to work with you and be able to entertain, educate and learn from your industry, your topics, your audience.