Forget the celebrity speaker: Corporations would rather pay for industry insights than name recognition, says a new survey commissioned by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the National Speakers Association (NSA).

For educational workshops and breakout sessions, industry speakers rocketed past professional and celebrity speakers as the most in demand. For keynote addresses, on the other hand, 59 percent of respondents hired professional speakers, while 25 percent hired industry speakers and 17 percent hired celebrity speakers. In the coming 12 months, the 200 meeting executives surveyed said they expect to hire 1,860 industry speakers, 687 professional speakers, and 140 celebrity speakers at more than 7,600 meetings.

Respondents listed the following criteria as most important when hiring a speaker: topic expertise (94 percent), willingness to do research and customize the presentation to the audience (75 percent), and industry authority (68 percent). At the bottom of the list, incidentally, were a speaker's academic credentials.

And what are these speakers talking about? Technology is the most popular topic, followed by the vague "trends" and "industry-specific topics."

No question about it, everyone can learn to juggle. Not only that, everyone should learn to juggle-everyone, that is, who wants to improve his or her ability to grow intellectually.

So says Michael Gelb, founder of the High Performance Learning Center, Great Falls, VA, who has taught thousands of people how to learn by teaching them how to juggle.

"The secret to learning is, first, to understand that the fundamental nature of your brain is to learn. That's it's basic orientation," Gelb says. "When you understand what that means, it gives you confidence. But that's not enough. You also need a learning method. We've all grown up with one dominant approach to learning things-fear of failure.

"But the only way you can learn anything is by making mistakes." The best way to learn, then, Gelb says, is to "make mistakes in a safe environment."

That's what he provides when he teaches juggling. Participants are grouped in pairs and told to toss balls and not to catch them at first. Better yet, their partners pick up the dropped balls for them.

That's just one of the universal principles that Gelb hopes his participants take away and apply at a deeper level. Based on the feedback he's received, it works-in more ways than one. "I've had people say that they've started doing the thing in their life that they've always wanted to do," he says. "They're inspired to learn things."

Besides, juggling is fun. "I've taught senior executives of Fortune 500 companies, boards of directors," Gelb says. "They smile, they lighten up, they laugh-and they start learning."

Contact Gelb at (703) 757-7007.