10 Hot Topics for Chamber Programming (and how to find speakers for them)

If you’ve spent any time on the internet (specifically social media) these days, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by the number of learning opportunities out there. Scroll through Facebook and you’ll see someone selling a course to teach you almost anything. But the problem with these courses is (usually) you don’t know the person leading them. Plus, they’re often costly.

They promise amazing results for businesses by teaching secrets of success. The courses also appeal to busy professionals because they can be “worked” at their own pace with lifetime access to learning. Some even promise to update content to cover new trends.

Your member businesses are likely looking at these learning opportunities. Some will jump in, and some may end up paying large amounts for things they never use. Others may need the training but won’t invest in themselves because they don’t know the thought leader.

That’s where the chamber comes in.

You are in an excellent position to help address the many learning needs of your member businesses. Plus, they trust you and know you understand their business. You won’t run a Facebook ad one day and disappear the next. You’re committed to community and building a better business environment.

Some chambers understand the value of programming to their members but aren’t sure how to:

  • Find the right topics their audience will love
  • Reach their audience most effectively
  • Line up thought leaders on a budget

If that’s you, keep reading.

10 Hot Topics for Chamber Programming

Whether you’re hosting a seminar, Lunch & Learn, a Hot Topics Series, or you want to put together a member library of learning content, these topics will drive attendance and increase the perception of chamber membership value for your current and future members.

While asking your members what they want to learn more about is a good idea, they may not always know what they need to know. As the Voice of Business, you are constantly watching the horizon and may be aware of important changes and trends that are coming so don’t rely solely on their feedback.

The following ideas are big topics that can work as individual topics or a series of pertinent information to help your members navigate the changing tides of business these days.

This is a big one and could be a standalone course all by itself. From ethics of AI in business to copyright, from how AI will impact a business/industry to ways to optimize performance with AI, from cool AI tools to protecting your security and potential government regulation, from tips on how to create awesome AI prompts to using a chatbot for your business, from building your own website with AI to creating presentations in half the time, the AI topics are deep and useful and you want someone leading this conversation who you trust.

What makes a great leader today? How do you navigate difficult times as a leader? What role do leaders play in boosting morale and empowering employees? How do you become a leader?

Professional Development
What if you want to become a YouTube sensation? How about learning what it takes to switch careers midlife? How can you follow your dreams and meet your goals for a more fulfilling life?

Diversity and Inclusion
This goes beyond recruiting to creating an environment where everyone (employees, customers, stakeholders, job candidates, etc.) feels welcome and secure. Businesses need this not only to become an employer of choice but to avoid legal problems as well.

This topic can feel boring and overwhelming for the people who need it most but it’s critical to all size businesses these days. Market the importance of this and use words/descriptions that are inviting. Sadly, the topic of cybersecurity can be like a root canal. Many don’t understand the importance of it until it gets really painful.

There are many ways to have a successful e-commerce store these days. From selling on your website to selling through the big sites including Walmart, eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. Teach members about the available options and bring in sellers from each of the platforms to share their experiences.

Digital Marketing
There are so many components to an effective marketing strategy and your members without a marketing department may not know where to start. Additionally, no one has unlimited time. Helping your members not only understand what is an essential marketing activity but also how to perform them to maximize the time they do have for the biggest impact can be business-changing.

Netflix versus Blockbuster is one of the most powerful examples of agility in business. Both companies were meeting a need with in-home entertainment when one noticed a change on the horizon—streaming. Netflix adjusted its business offerings. Blockbuster did not. With AI coming on the scene, we’re going to see agile operations flourish, while others will be put out of business. This is a thought-provoking topic. AI doesn’t have to put us all out of work, but it will change how we work and what we focus on.

Many businesses are setting themselves apart from the competition by offering experiences. Some are doing it on their own, while others are partnering as in the case of a wine bar partnering with a caterer to offer holiday menu planning or appetizers 101. At first glance, these events may seem like competition for the chamber but you can get behind the topic and teach others how to do it and facilitate the interaction between partnering organizations, living up to your connector reputation and creating more growth opportunities for everyone.

Word-of-mouth Marketing
Everyone wants it (it is the most powerful and valuable marketing out there after all) but few know how to do it. Give an overview of what it is and how it helps, and talk about how your members can encourage their audiences to talk about them. Include information about getting reviews, testimonials, social media plugs, etc.

Now that you know what you want to talk about, let’s explore how you can do that on a budget.

Budget Sources for Speakers

First, if you’re covering a niche topic that requires a lot of sophistication and knowledge/training, you may want to bring in a paid speaker. A paid speaker should have a level of fame (at least in their area of expertise) that helps you sell tickets and gets people excited about what you’re doing.

But, if you don’t have it in the budget, there are other resources.

  • Elected officials. These folks aren’t limited to talking about the election or what they do for a living. You may find they’re experts in one of the hot topics above. For instance, there may be a bill in your legislature regarding AI that your congressperson would love to talk about. Perhaps your Attorney General has issued a warning about cybersecurity and someone from their office could give more insights. Read your elected officials’ newsletters and websites and see what topics they’re talking about. If those topics don’t line up with anything you’re considering in your programming, contact them. Share your idea and explain it’s a topic of interest among your members. Most elected officials appreciate understanding the interests of the voters.
  • Business members. There’s likely a thought leader in your midst. If they’re not willing to speak for free, maybe they would be willing to do it if they can also pitch their book or an upcoming event they’re hosting. Perhaps you can pay them in event tickets or advertising on your website.
  • Local celebs. Everyone has a platform (and following) these days. Think about local celebrities who may have interesting insights and stories. Maybe your winning football coach, for instance, would be willing to talk about weathering difficult times or leadership when morale is low.
  • Local authors. If you allow them to sell their book at the end, they may be willing to talk for free. You might be surprised by the level of local talent and the genres their work covers.
  • Members of leadership programs at the local high school. If your high school has a special program, they may have a presentation requirement. International baccalaureates degree programs and others are a good place to start. Local colleges may also have professors and students who are covering these timely topics as well.
  • ​​Newspapers and cable TV. Scanning your local newspapers or watching hometown stories on your cable provider’s station may help introduce you to people doing amazing things in your community. Match what they’re doing to one of the popular speaking topics you have and contact them about their interest. If they’re not professional speakers, they may come speak for free and you won’t have to pay them for overnight travel.

Chamber programming can be an affordable and value-laden opportunity for your members. Helping them get the training they need from someone they trust at an affordable fee can make chamber membership an important part of their professional development and business growth.


Take Advantage of Our Chamber Industry Services

Join with 11,000+ Chamber Pros in the Chamber Pros Community Facebook Group (For FREE)

Training and Resources for Chamber of Commerce Professionals

Done 4 You Social Media Content for Your Chamber Of Commerce

Board Retreats, Strategic Plans, Board Training, Consulting, and More...

Meet Our Authors

Christina Metcalf jpg

Writer for the Chamber Pros Community

Frank-head-shot-2-small jpg

Hi, I'm Frank Kenny

Founder of the Chamber Pros Community

Z6UCUCaQ_400x400 jpeg

Hi, I'm Norma Davey

Founder of the Co-Chamber Pros Community

Most Recent Posts


Subscribe to the Chamber Pros Community eNewsletter.


Discover chamber tips, strategies, and best practices...

We value your privacy and will never sell your info

Legal Agreements, Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions 
Copyright 2023 Chamber Pros Community and Frank J. Kenny, LLC