I hope everyone enjoyed their festive celebrations and is looking forward to the New Year ahead!
After the busy year that 2016 has been, the holidays are definitely a time for us all to unwind and remind ourselves that having fun is a good thing to do. (Sometimes we forget to enjoy the here and now due to the stress of life going on around us!) I trust that you feel we have got you covered with respect to looking back at 2016 with our highlights piece, so I think it's time to look forward at what's coming up from my perspective - for both Speakers Corner and the speaking industry in general.
As an industry as a whole, we continue to grow stronger and strive to deliver exceptional service and content. Having stepped down from my role as chairman of the European Association of Speaker Bureaus, I wish my successor success in championing the speaking business. As the former and inaugural chairman, I am still very much actively involved in the EASB and helping the new chairman to settle in - and I'm confident that they will ensure that the association's members engage in creating an industry that operates in the best way for both clients and artists.
Meanwhile, I am now co-chairman of this year's International Association of Speaker Bureaus convention. I have been accused of having ulterior motives as, upon accepting the post, I was delighted to find out that the convention will be held in Las Vegas! (I assure you I was completely surprised by this.) What has already become apparent is that, while this is definitely a challenge, it is also a privilege to be bringing together bureaus from across the world to discuss and learn about the key challenges and aspirations of the industry as a whole and how we can work together to achieve this. It also gives me a taste and definite steep learning curve as to what our clients are going through when they are organising events and conferences. If I had a lot of respect for all of you before in terms of your event organisation skills, I now hold you in a state of awe and admiration.
The other point in 2017 that I would like to highlight is about the speakers and content themselves. If 2016 was a year of shock, surprise and general uncertainty, then 2017 will be the year when we need, as both individuals and companies, to learn how to manage this uncertainty and lack of clarity. When outcomes of decisions will not be known for many years, then it is ever more critical that speakers are delivering real content for clients. It is absolutely clear to us at Speakers Corner that, in the times we live in, and especially following our experiences in the last 12 months, when speakers go up on stage, they can no longer be perceived as definitively providing answers. Instead, they are supplying knowledge and viewpoints to the delegates at the event who can then develop their own conclusions and actions within their lives (both personal and professional).
It is a commonly repeated mantra of ours at Speakers Corner - and I will never fail to reiterate it - that, ultimately, a great speech depends on the content that the speaker is delivering and how it is relevant to the audience.
So what are our plans for 2017 at Speakers Corner?
We are taking this uncertain time as one of opportunity. We want to develop stronger and deeper relationships with our customers. We also want to continue to be at the forefront of promoting the industry and educating about the benefits that an external viewpoint can bring to any event, conference, dinner or gathering. We want clients to view us as curators of content, as we are privileged to have access to some of the finest speakers across the world delivering content which can change, shape or validate people’s thoughts. This impact is something that we want to broaden in 2017 - we want to reach out to more people in order to help them through these times.
Our Knowledge Guild showcase continues to go from strength to strength. We're at a point where our guests really appreciate they will have an amazing and enlightening experience, irrelevant of the subject matter, as the speakers are guaranteed to be awesome. We also want to grow our Comedy collective - after the brilliant success of our very first one - and we have a couple of other exciting new plans up our sleeves.
The main goal for the company in 2017? To be honest, we have a number of them. But if I was to select one to share with you (as it definitely involves you!) we want to meet even more of our clients. We work in the ‘live’ environment after all and value, more than anything, the power of face-to-face connection. There is nothing we enjoy more than a chat over a cup of tea and a slice of cake, and the bond that brings will help to ensure that the service we deliver will is truly personal and exceptional.
So bring it on 2017 with your challenges, surprises and exciting times! Happy New Year everyone!
MD of Speakers Corner