Speakers and facilitators are what makes the success of your event and keeps the attendees talking for months and years to come. Speakers have many requirements in order to perform at their best potential. I wanted to interview a few instructors and facilitators to see if there has been any changes in their needs and what they want us to know when we are booking a speaker. Maxine Fuller of Maxine Fuller LLC.,, Stacey Hanke of Stacey Hanke Inc. and Shawn Woods of Shawn K. Woods & Associates have provided their insights on what they think has changed.
Q1: What do you find you need to teach your classes that you did not need in the past?
MF: I feel I have to spend more time in the recent years reminding my students to be present in class to limit the outside distractions such as emailing, text messaging, stepping out to answer calls, etc. Encouraging the class to focus on what is being taught in the course and what they came here to learn.
SH: We are hiding behind technology. We are teaching individuals the need for face-to-face conversations. This is determined by who they’re trying to influence and the objective of their message. With most individuals relying on email, text, etc. we are losing the art of face-to-face. Individuals frequently share that the more they communicate through these mediums they’re getting more uncomfortable with having a face to face conversation.
SKW: Although not new from a training topic perspective there are two topics that I place increased emphasis on versus the past: flexibility and building relationships and networks. With the advances in technology where and how people work has drastically changed. As a result, there needs to be an increased focus on organizational flexibility and building relationships and networks. From a flexibility perspective teams within organizations may be located in different physical locations. Individuals in these environments need to have the capability to flex their work styles to ensure that goals can be achieved in these environments. For example, illustrating examples on a whiteboard in a room when you have meeting participants on a conference call will not yield effective results. Meeting logistics and technology requirements need to be prepared for in advance. In my courses, I provide tools and tips to help individuals think more broadly and be more flexible to ensure a productive environment. I also place an increased emphasis on building relationships and networks. With the increase in remote working and non-verbal electronic communication (i.e., instant messaging) often times building relationships can become the casualty. Through my courses I demonstrate how relationship building is a key component of being able to influence and therefore is a necessary component for one’s success. Again, these are not new topics but given the current dynamic I place greater emphasis on these topics.
Q2: Has technology affected how you teach?
MF: I needs to be more knowledgeable on technology and continue to stay up-to-date on new technology trends. Presentations are typically through the use of newer laptops, USB’s, embedded links, etc. This allots for more preparation time and getting familiarized with the way the course will be taught.
SH: Definitely! We work with many individuals who work virtually. We discuss a lot of how to’s for influencing their listeners through virtual mediums. Individuals run the risk of hiding behind technology because they believe people can’t see them…but…their listeners still create perceptions of us based on how we sound and the words we use in a virtual environment. This is why we always recommend that individuals turn on their webcams. This is the next best option to communicating live/face-to-face.
SKW: Yes, technology has impacted how I teach. Training has moved beyond everyone being in a classroom together. I am now training people via webinars, skype, podcasts etc. When everyone is in the same room you could do group exercises, group discussions now I have to be more creative to ensure that webinars and podcasts are as engaging and deliver the same results as my in-person classes.
Q3: Have your room setup requirements changed based on how people learn?
MF: I have not seen much of a difference in terms of the room setup requirements. The pods setup makes for easy interaction between classmates and speakers.
SH: We set all of our rooms based on the types of conversations individuals have on a daily basis. Since we focus on communicating with influence, we want to see individuals in their day-to-day communication situations. We know the value for them will be practicing our recommendations for enhancing their influence if they can practice in the environments they’re most familiar with.
SKW: Wherever possible I like to leverage technology in my training classes. Leveraging smartboards instead of easel pads when doing group exercises makes it much easier to consolidate and analyze information. These types of technological advances make it much easier and faster to consolidate feedback.
Q4: Is there anything you wish venues or meeting planners booking speakers would know?
MF: It is important for the venue and/or meeting planners to make sure the logistical items (room layout, setup and materials) are completed prior to the speakers arrival because then she only needs to focus on prepping for what she will be teaching which is less for her to worry about.
SH: Adaptability! Adapting to the audiences style of learning. Sometimes what has worked in the past no longer works for all generations and learning styles.
SKW: The one question I always ask when being booked is what are the top three deliverables you want to achieve with this session. Having this information allows me to customize programs to ensure that the sessions align with desired outcomes.