Integrity Languages

Blog

Tag Archives: public speaking

Should suppliers pay to speak at tradeshows?

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: February 26, 2018

In the past year I have been invited to speak at two different, but equally prestigious tradeshows. Both attract an audience of my ideal clients and both are free to attend. But my invite to speak came with a catch, the organisers would love to have me speak … if I were only to purchase a stand at the event.

Now, let’s put this in context. As one lovely salesperson at one of those events made clear to me, the “buy a stand to speak” rule mostly applies to suppliers, especially “niche” ones. If you are a buyer or have already made your name, the floor is yours. If your business is in making buyers’ lives more comfortable and more successful, come with cash in hand, please.

Honestly, it is understandable. The truth is that suppliers go to tradeshows with selling in mind and the Return on Investment at any of these shows should easily outstrip the initial investment. Notice the “should“.

There are never any guarantees. Personally, I have seen some sessions at tradeshows where the speaker has obviously done everything they could to attract an audience (and probably paid a big chunk of their annual marketing budget for a stand) only to end up speaking to about three people, one of whom thought this was another session and only stayed because they were British.

And of course, if you are a smaller supplier, the likelihood is that your time in the limelight (if speaking to three people and a few moths can be seen as the limelight) means that noone is there on your stand. What you gain on the possibility of landing new business through speaking, you are losing in opportunity cost.

While I understand the underlying mathematics and logic of linking buying a stand with speaking, the speaker and buyer in me is growing sceptical. As a speaker, I know for sure that a need to sell will kill any talk and, if you have paid significant sums to speak, it will be tough to erase the need to sell from your presentation. Few speakers manage it and so encouraging a “buy a stand to do a talk” model is probably not in the interests of any tradeshow audience, who are there to learn, not to get the hard sell.

As a buyer (and yes I have looked to buy from companies I have met a tradeshows), I really want to see education and selling treated separately. Yes, buyer education is part of the sales process but I personally walk away from any presentation where the two get confused.

If you learn something from someone, you may wish to buy from them. But there is a difference between going to a talk to learn and meeting them with the intent to buy.

I am sure that there are lots of success stories of business people laying out the cash to speak at tradeshows and seeing success. But I have yet to read one on the website of any show. I am sure that there are cases of the pay-to-speak system opening paths for speakers who wouldn’t normally have even gotten near the stage at a big show. But again, I have yet to read one. And I wonder how many excellent speakers it is actively putting off.

Instead, I have read several speakers write rather bluntly and disparagingly about the practice. I have come across stories of people deciding not to attend a show at all when they found out that paying for a stand was a route to getting a speaking slot. I know of one show which saw less footfall last year and can’t help wonder if their “buy a stand to speak” policy had something to do with it.

As a trained researcher, I have to go with the data and at the moment, I haven’t seen any data that shows me that “buy a stand to speak” is in the interests of speakers, their audience or the bottom-line. I would love to see such data. But for now, if I am invited to speak, I will reflexively check if I have to buy a stand. And if I have to buy a stand, I will simply walk away, knowing that there are other, less financially onerous ways to get excellent content to potential clients, especially with excellent organisations, such as Hashtag Events, showing that the practice is anything but universal.

Here’s a Brand New Course to Improve Your Public Speaking

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: August 3, 2017

There is nothing that comes close to the impact of delivering a talk that wows an audience. There is no better way to make people take notice of your business, believe your results or give you a promotion. Yet public speaking is regularly listed among our worst fears. It’s time that ended.

 

For the past month, I have been working on a course covering the four basic building blocks of public speaking:

  • Content that carries the message you want to deliver
  • Communication that brings understanding and encourages change
  • Connection that makes you believable and relatable
  • Creativity that creates moments that people remember when they go home.

 

Those are the four building blocks that I have been teaching around Europe in my popular Public Speaking Workshop for the past two years. This has honed my presentation and allowed me to answer the big questions that people have about speaking. And now, I have gathered the very best content from that workshop and turned it into a four part course with videos, podcasts, FAQ sheets and a mini-guide for those who are new to speaking.

Until 9th August, 2017 the course is on offer at a bargain price of £29.99 for fifty minutes of video teaching, almost an hour of downloadable podcasts and all the other help sheets. Whatever your business, you will find that improving your public speaking gives you a noticeable boost and this course is there to do exactly that.

 

To find out more or to buy the course right now, simple go here: https://integrity-languages-courses.thinkific.com/courses/public-speaking-building-blocks

 

 

 

 

Why Fast-Talking MEPs are not just Bad News for Interpreters

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: February 8, 2016

European Parliament, Strabourg. (c) Cédric Puisney via Wikipedia

It’s unusual for interpreters to make the news. Yet, a recent article on the BBC website discussed an appeal from the Secretary General of the European Union for MEPs to talk more slowly and use their native language. If you work in the language industries, this kind of appeal will be old news. But there might be more to this than meets the eye. In fact, there is a lot here for professional speakers too. But first, let’s deal with the obvious.

As an interpreter myself, I must admit that my first reaction was a kind of resigned shrug. Careless speakers will be careless. Interpreters are taught summarising skills for a reason. To some extent, we just have to get on with it. That would seem to be the obvious response.

But this “just getting on with it”, while it might be a badge of professionalism to some, masks the real issues. It’s not just interpreters who suffer when speakers go a mile a minute. Actually, everyone suffers.

Way back in the 1970s, psychologist David Gerver and his team locked down the sweet spot for excellent interpreting. They found that interpreters performed their best with texts given at a speed of 100 to 120 words per minute. Too slow, and they found it difficult to store what the speaker said. Too fast, and they got lost.

They argued that this is not just a quirk of interpreting. It is very likely that the reason why this is a sweet spot for interpreting is because it is a sweet spot for human cognition. Put simply, if you want people to keep up and take in what you are saying, aiming for a speed in-between those two limits will help you. (Think ‘BBC Newsreader’ and you will be on the right track).

So, if MEPs are racing at the speed of light, it won’t just be the interpreters who are suffering. It is likely that even people listening to them directly will be getting lost. And, if what they are saying has any importance at all, that can only be a bad thing.

Instead of playing the “interpreters are struggling” card then, might it make more sense to argue that speaking too quickly is actually bad for democracy? If you want a real discussion, if you want the voices of your constituents to be heard, s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. If you don’t, you are the one who will suffer. Oh and the people who elected you!

Of course, professional speakers should know this stuff already but it is always worth a reminder. There is always the temptation to stuff a speech so full of content that the only want to get through it is to speak like a chipmunk on caffeine high. Except it doesn’t work. Your audience will actually get less out of that talk than they would have if you slowed down and really nailed one or two key points.

One more thing. No one has yet asked why MEPs might be racing so much. You never know, they might be the victims too. If they are given a limited timeslot in which to have their say, could you blame them for trying to say as much as possible? If this is the problem, we might want to lobby for longer and more frequent parliamentary sessions.

Problems with interpreting are rarely about interpreting itself. After all, interpreting is a people activity with language attached, not a language activity with people attached. Once we look at the people problems, we get much closer to finding a solution. And in this case, it seems that the issue is much less about interpreting than it is about good public speaking, democracy and scheduling. And those are areas where we all could improve.