Generating Energy with Your Audience | A Q&A with Jessica Sansom
If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?
I’d love to speak at every dinner table across Britain, and possibly America, to get the support of the ‘average’ person, to get them thinking about a sustainable future.
How did the corporate speaking start?
At innocent, we receive a lot of requests to speak at all sorts of different events from school assemblies through to keynote addresses. As we started to receive more and more requests to speak about sustainability issues, the company asked if I would be interested in doing some speaking in addition to my day job as Head of Sustainability. I love talking about sustainability, and convincing people that it is so much more than just hugging trees, so I was happy to take up the challenge.
Can you remember your first speaking engagement?
Well there was reading out the notices in my school assembly at age 7… but since then, my first ‘large’ audience was at a supplier event when working for McDonald’s. It was my audience of 500 people, first time using a teleprompt, and first time being filmed. Thankfully it all went well!
And your last event?
I spoke at an event for the Association of Chartered Accountants. I couldn’t quite believe I was speaking to a group of accountants, but they were a great audience, and it was fun to talk about the forgotten component of business planning… sustainability.
Which event has been your favourite and why?
I spoke at an event for a group of CEO/COOs from different companies. It was great because when I first started speaking I could almost feel the cynicism from them towards whether or not sustainable business was profitable business, but by the end they were completely on board and a number of them contacted me afterwards to thank me for making them think.
Who would you most like to share a platform with?
You have to share the platform?? I have had the honour of meeting a number of my idols but there are so many more.
Do you use PowerPoint?
Sometimes, but mostly to show pictures to demonstrate my point, words on PowerPoint can be really boring and people don’t tend to absorb them. What do they say, a picture can say a 1000 words?
Are you as happy speaking to 50 as to 1,000 people?
I like speaking to all sizes of audience, you can get a different energy from all sizes of groups.
Do you always like to do a briefing call before the event?
Yes, I like to know who is in the audience so I can tailor my content accordingly to the type of room, the audience size, etc.
What are the most asked for topics?
How can we make business sustainable?
Is your speech interactive with audience participation?
I really like to interact with the audience whenever possible and suitable.
Do you have any funny/embarrassing speaking anecdotes you care to share?
Not so much speaking, but, I had to do a ‘line-dance’ on stage with some colleagues for an audience of 10,000 factory workers (it’s a long story), and I did the whole thing with the zip on my jeans undone – oops!
Your favourite film?
I am unashamedly a romantic comedy girl, but the cinematography in Out of Africa is sublime.
Schindlers Ark, it’s incredibly powerful.
Favourite holiday destination?
Anywhere warm with clear seas and tropical fish.
Country or townie?
A country girl who loves a night out on the town.
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