Conference News September 2021 - Page 36

36 Interview

SPEAKING SENSE

Martin Fullard talks to Nick Gold , managing director of Speakers Corner , about how the role of keynote has changed and how they have adapted to the virtual world
ick Gold has been at the helm of Speakers Corner for more than 16 years , and in that time has built the speaker bureau into one of the most recognised across the events industry . But , like everyone else , Gold could only watch as the live in-person bookings dried up in March 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold .
Yet , it is not in Gold ’ s nature to stand
Nick Gold
idly by and watch the world burn . Rather than simply accept that there were no in-person events happening , he worked with his speakers to ensure they were fighting fit for the virtual age . “ We ran several showcase sessions for our speakers in 2020 , as I think at that time the marketplace was still a bit unsettled ,” he says . “ And then what happened around the New Year was that many businesses realised that as the vaccine started rolling out that , actually , they needed to have a complete mindshift change , and start looking forward and start looking at business rather than
“ To have a speaker who really understands how to draw the best out of the audience is absolutely critical ” looking at crisis management effectively .”
Gold notes that the pandemic brought about a new perspective for many , and speakers changed their speeches to reflect this .
“ The critical thing we ’ ve seen from speakers is they have been taking their messages and diluting them down in a good sense . Their reaction is now focused on the moment that everyone is living ,” says Gold .
“ Speakers are being hired with a shorter lead time . So actually they ’ re rewriting their speech the day before an event because things change every day and needs to be more relevant to the times we are living .”
Gold also notes that the role of the keynote is less direct , in the sense of delivering from a lectern , and has now become more conversational with speakers now more inclined to engage with their audience .
Virtual roles
Is the role of the speaker facilitator any less important with running online or hybrid events , I ask Gold ? “ What I find fascinating is that at the outset of the pandemic we [ the events industry ] did ourselves a disservice . We talked a lot about ‘ pivoting ’ from in-person to virtual . To me , that ’ s the same as turning around and saying when email came along , people pivoted from the phone to email . The reality is www . conference-news . co . uk