You Spoke As If You Were One Of Us: Q&A with host and facilitator Sian Jones
An expert facilitator, who builds a narrative between speakers, expands on debating topics and injects some fun into proceedings, is an integral part of the event.
So, with a flair for taking to the stage and keeping the show running to schedule, Sian Jones knows just what's required to keep the audience tuned in.
One of the UK's most recognisable TV broadcasters from presenting the ITV Morning News and GMTV in London, Sian has some incredible advice on what makes a great event tick. So, with Sian relaxing as the interviewee, rather than interviewer this time around, we sat down to pick her brains!
You’re a familiar face on our TV screens, but how did you end up migrating onto the corporate scene?
It started some years back when I was reading the ITV Morning News. A colleague asked if I’d be interested in media training a company he was working with and another whether I would host a business conference. It took off from there really and over the years I have hosted loads of wonderful events and helped hundreds of people be confident in the spotlight, on stage, on camera and on line.
How would you describe your role as facilitator on stage, and what preparation do you do beforehand to make this work?
I see my role as facilitator as the glue that holds it all together – the seamless link between presentations, panel discussions, breakouts, questions and lunch! Preparation is vital for me so I will research the company, the speakers; understand the aim of the event and the audience.
I love to get immersed in understanding the company and its objectives prior to the event so I am a great one for attending meetings and conference calls in advance. You’ve got to sound like you are a credible authority on stage and I am a firm believer in getting under the skin of the company.
I was hosting a pharmaceutical conference the other day and one delegate came up to me and said, “You spoke as if you were one of us,” and for me that was the greatest compliment
An on-stage panel discussion is often an integral part of the day, which gives the speakers a chance to debate with each other. What’s your advice to event organisers searching for the perfect dynamic?
A great panel discussion should be like a chat show and the role of the panellists to engage, enrich and entertain. Audiences love a bit of theatre and controversy so choosing panellists (no more than 4) with opposing views, who are able to break conventional conversations and create interesting content is key I would say.
Also over the years it’s those that are able to use stories to make their content stick that I remember; stories, which are obviously relevant to the audience. Finally think about diversifying – gender, race, views.
And we read you’ve got a comedy background too, which must come in handy when you’re hosting award ceremonies?
Yes, I used to be an actress and also hosted a comedy show in Hong Kong and I think it’s important to be able to have fun and lighten the mood. People love to laugh and be entertained so I always try and build in a few amusing anecdotes, (although my husband would probably take the credit for them!)
With your background as a presentation and media skills trainer, what advice would you give professionals who are asked to represent their company on stage at conferences or trade shows?
Easy, three things; Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Always know that you have one chance to make a great first impression and that you are very unlikely to be able to wing it on the day. Even the greatest leaders put in hours of preparation and rehearsal (out loud) to make a real impact. So that’s my advice if you are going on stage.
Prepare if you are attending a trade show as a delegate too. Journalists and others may well ask you questions about why you are there and what your company does; so having something clear, concise and compelling prepared is key. Use it as an opportunity to be proactive.
Finally, what’s next for you?
My father had a quote stuck on the wall of his study and it read, “When work is pleasure, life is a joy.” I have been so incredibly blessed in my career so I would say more of the same; hosting more events, conducting more panel discussions, learning from more brilliant speakers, coaching and helping more people to be truly impactful presenters through storytelling is what motivates me. It’s a wonderful life.
It certainly is Sian! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us and we can't wait to see you on stage again soon.
For further information or to book one of our speakers, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070+44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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