Why Event Organisers Need to Look Beyond a Speakers CV
From the start, I have always been intrigued by the balance between a speaker’s credibility (derived from their experience qualifications), to their ability to engage and resonate with an audience from the moment they step onto the stage.
Over time, I’ve come to believe event organisers tend to sway too much one way or the other in this area. Generally, organisers will lean towards credibility and expertise, and place less consideration on the impact a speaker will impart on their audience...
The speaker’s content creates sustained success and potential long term impact, but without the buzz of the live experience, this content can (and is) often demoted in the delegates eyes to a side line irrelevance.
And through the years, as the immersive world has become ever more accessible, a biography is no longer the sole pre-requisite of establishing a speaker’s credentials.
After all, when we receive a programme listing the speakers that we will be listening to at an event, the written profile is taken on one hand and supplemented by what we can find from the internet and social media.
A speaker or an expert is no longer solely initially judged on their credibility of their academic or career achievements. We, the audience, have access to information far beyond that and use it to make presumptions about who the person is and whether they are a person are credible, not just through their qualifications, but who they are and what they stand for (morally, politically, ethically and so on).
So when I read today that a speaker has been cancelled from the Black Hat conference, I’m no longer surprised. This episode is just one additional chapter within many stories surrounding the ‘No Platform movement’ that have been appeared over the last few months, and it’s vital the conference and event industry understand just what is happening here.
The truth is that in a world where we are connected 24/7 and that we all are looking as individuals for purpose, for tribes to belong to and for identity, we have the tools to look beyond the page and the surface about individuals.
We are making judgements based on a bottomless treasure trove of data than ever before, and thus the credibility of a speaker is not solely dependent on their expertise or relevancy to the immediate subject matter at hand, but rather as an overall picture.
The conference, the organising company or indeed brand that the keynote speaker is appearing for, needs to understand and appreciate that the link between them and the person on stage is growing ever stronger, and the events community are drawing links and relationships which are deeper than ever before.
The event organiser needs to use the resources available to them when planning their event to make sure they are not just judging the speaker solely on their credibility from their CV, but from what they hope to achieve from their conference, what the delegates are looking for, the speakers style and if that fits with the tone of the conference.
But more importantly, if the speaker, in their entirety, is someone that has positive associations to the wider picture that is being presented, then in the delegates eyes that will make all the difference in creating an event that lives long in the memory for those who are able to say “I was there”.
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