56 Speakers Finding your event voice Karen Kadin, managing partner Brands At Work, explains how to find the right speakers to create maximum audience engagement “The message tends to stick more when it comes in the shape of a story” tart with a blank canvas, map out your event objectives and then work out the themes, morals, and subtext of the event. Explode out the brief and examine it from every angle to gain insights and uncover fresh perspectives. Think beyond the obvious and look for the stories that will grab imaginations, stir emotions, challenge minds and change the status quo. Then, hunt for speakers whose stories bring style and substance to communicate your objectives. The message tends to stick more when it comes in the shape of a story. What is the story your event needs to tell and how do your speakers fit into this overarching narrative? Know your audience and match your approach to them. Sometimes the session that will resonate with an audience will take a more academic approach; certain audiences can engage with a keynote from a niche “Build relationships with your speaker bureau and remember that they are busy and not paid to create proposal after proposal for you” subject matter expert because the content is highly relevant to them. For example, we work with a global financial company and their audience is extremely cerebral so, for one of their events, we chose a notable FinTech speaker from Silicon Valley to share industry trends and forecasts with them. This information was of great importance and interest to them and the presentation simply blew their minds. At the other end of the spectrum, you may establish that your audience would benefit from a motivational speaker. Take a deeper look at what you are trying to motivate your audience to think, feel or do differently. Then, find the stories and the speakers who match up with www.conference-news.co.uk those ambitions and will inspire the desired outcomes. When using a speaker bureau, your brief to them is of paramount importance so make sure that it is as detailed and as specific as possible because you get as good as you put in. Build relationships with them and remember that they are busy and not paid to create proposal after proposal for you. Avoid the clichéd and overdone speakers; it is also great to find speakers who are not heavily featured on the circuit. There are a lot of hidden gems out there so it’s a case of research, research, research. Inspiration can come from many sources – I regularly review TedTalks, authors of interesting and relevant books and articles about people with a story to tell. You may find that internal speakers fit an event’s ethos and objectives. If the aim of an event is to model behaviour or inspire change, then you may find that you already have leaders within the business who can share their own stories of how they implemented those changes themselves. We worked with one client on this approach and selected key people from the executive leadership team to share their own short stories on stage. With some creative workshops with us, we co-designed a highly engaging programme to bring alive their personal journeys for the audience. It is incredibly relevant and inspiring for an audience to learn from the example of their own leadership team.