Conferize’s “Speak the Future” series features speakers who are currently changing the conference world. Often described as the thought-leaders and knowledge port-holes to this world, which is why we are passionate about sharing their ideas, right here, with you! For more info check out our “Speak the Future” Manifesto.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? What is your favorite area of expertise to present?
I’m the co-founder and Managing Director of Kite Global Advisors. We’re a consulting firm that advises companies on their thought leadership. Talking about thought leadership gets me excited. Yes, I realize that talking about “thought leadership” is a little bit meta, as they say. But I think there’s a lot more to making thought leadership work for you and your company than people realize. Companies that have had real ambitions have essentially turned themselves into publishers and disappointed themselves. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Are conferences important? Why or why not?
Conferences are vitally important. There is sometimes a perception that a conference is a keynote speech, a backroom deal and an afternoon tea time. But if that’s all you’re there for, you’re really missing out. Because conferences bring together so many leaders in their fields, they represent unique opportunities to learn and work collaboratively. Some real breakthroughs can be made. Of course, that only happens if the meetings are designed well.
Do you have any specific goals for your speaking career?
I do more speaking for small audiences, to be honest, than I do for plenary halls. And I like it that way because I get a better sense of engagement from the audience. It’s something I’d like to do more of.
Have you noticed any significant trends in the meetings industry in the wake of digital/mobile developments? How would you like to see conferences change more in the future?
There’s a lot of experimentation with technology at conferences. A lot of it! In my experience, though, a lot of that technology has been flashy but hasn’t really helped the conference experience. Organizers spend a lot of time explaining how a mobile app works, for example, but the apps tend not to be that reliable and there are always a few people who can’t get them to work. So far, a lot of technologies seem to be getting in the way.
I’m positive that the technologies will get there—that there will be some breakthrough moments with some real value-add for attendees. The technologies that are focused on enhancing collaboration—ones that connect people at events, for example—those are very promising, because as I say the collaborations that emerge at conferences can be very powerful.
As a speaker, what do you feel you need right now to strengthen your profile in the conference world? Tools, technology, network etc.?
I haven’t put a lot of emphasis on building my profile in the conference world, in general. I spend more time helping others build their profiles, so I think I’ve neglected my own. Perhaps I should change that!
Best & worst conference experience?
It was probably the same conference. I was working behind the scenes with the program team to develop content for the event. Then 9/11 happened. When we’d all come to grips with what had happened, we realized the program largely had to be scrapped and rebuilt, and with it, new content had to be developed around a set of themes we really hadn’t thought about in such depth and context before. That was a challenging time. But in the end, it was also incredibly rewarding because the conference really delivered some leading thinking.
Any advice to aspiring speakers? Things you’ve learned or are struggling with just starting out?
It’s much easier to speak with authority when you have real data and personal experiences to back you up.
Finding the best ways to complement a speaker or a panel with rich data and other content is tricky. But that combination is also when you can have real and lasting impact.
If you would like to participate in the ‘Speak the Future’ series and be listed as a speaker, do not hesitate to get involved and contact us
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