Key Insights from Day One of NSA’s Winter Conference 2018

By Liz Weber, CMC, CSP

OMG! OMG! OMG! The information and insights on the future of speaking are coming fast and furious at NSA’s Winter Conference #NSA2018–and we’ve only just begun!

Here’s what happened today...

The day started off with the Million Dollar Speakers Group gathering starting at 7:15AM. This gathering is by invitation-only. However, the impressive insights shared in this group are going to be revealed by Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE, tomorrow morning so stay tuned!

From 11:00am-12:00pm, The Power Women of NSA (#PWNSA) Community Group gathered for networking and learning. First-time PWNSA volunteer, Jennifer Darling, stepped up to lead the session. Dr. Nancy Little took the stage and challenged the audience to push our clients with audacious and challenging questions that make them uncomfortable... uncomfortable enough to hire us to go deeper with them in follow-on work. Joyce Goya led a discussion on how we resist and overcome resistance to new technologies, and Sharon Weinstein reminded everyone to not allow stressors to hold you back. Her tip for not creating more stress for yourself is to create ‘Must Do’ and not ‘To Do’ lists. Your lists will be shorter and you will make more headway while feeling accomplished at the end of the day. With To Do lists, you’re never true.

The NSA XY Group met for an interactive discussion on podcasting, led by the very funny, agile and quick-thinking Thom Singer, CSP. (Special shout-out to Hayley Foster, MED) who attended this session and shared her notes with me!) This session highlighted the credibility (& money) that can be earned by podcasting. One speaker/podcaster is earning $600K and is too busy making money to write books! Also, having 300 episodes of a podcast is carrying as much if not more credibility with end-users than individuals who have written several books. So now, some How To’s:

  • Ask your clients if they listen to podcasts, if so – go. If not…why not?
  • Keep them under 1-hour long
  • Focus on drive/commute time and mesh with that length (30 min, 45 min, etc)
    • Remember: If someone loves what you say, they may listen to you to AND from work!
  • You don’t need a big set-up. You can do this from your living room.
  • If you need sound-proofing, some have used mattresses (obviously this may not be the best solution if you’re recording in your living room!)
  • Have a list of questions your audience/clients ask of you and make those your topics
  • Like many work relationships, if you work with a partner on this, you will have scheduling conflicts
  • Virtual assistant transcribes audio for blogs, etc.
  • Tech tips:
    • Thom uses Podfly for his sound guy
    • He uses a Blue Yeti snowball mic – because great audio is a must
    • Brian Fanzo records his via FacebookLive, then extracts audio with QuickTime and pushes it out through typical social media channels
  • Podcasting has become the #1 lead generator for speeches for several in the room…why not give it a try?

Jeanne Stafford then hosted an incredibly lively session for our over 100 First-Timers! This year’s event has so many amazing VIPS with expertise to share with us as they learn about our community.

The conference officially kicked-off with the amazing Kaplan Mobray and The Future of Your Speaker Brand: Who are You? What are You Bringing to the Room? Kaplan brilliantly wove the idea of bringing value through your brand with a number of activities and thought-provoking quotes:

  • Take a selfie of yourself – WITHOUT posing. Look at it. That look is how your audience feels when they don’t get value from what you bring.
  • People meet you before they meet you. Once they meet you, they will either discount you or value how you transport them to a better state.
  • Content with and Experience = Value. Content without an Experience = Noise
  • What’s your super power? How do you save the day for your clients?
    • Why should someone invest in you? What value do you bring that is different? Why you? What’s your brand?

Next up was Michael Dominquez. Michael is the Chief Sales Officer for MGM and shared, let’s just be honest, a truly fascinating, fast-paced session on The Future of the Meetings Industry based upon his company’s analysis. Because just one of their Las Vegas properties can serve 50,000 visitors/guests in a single day, the MGM is a living laboratory for guest experiences and expectations. Michael focuses on meeting design and architecture. Conference room set-ups, like the theater-in-the-round format here at #NSA18 are becoming common if not expected – there is no back of the room where people can hide. Traditional keynotes are great, but crowd-sourcing topics in real-time with experts on the stage fielding questions is growing in popularity. The #1 change for meetings in the future is speed. Michael quoted Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, “If you think you’re moving fast enough, you’re not fast enough.” He then validated something I say frequently, 3- year planning is the best you can hope for, much beyond that and you’re completely guessing because of the rate of change. Because the need for speed and adaptability is a must, 2/3 of the companies on the S&P 500 will not be around in 10 years, because they’re too big to be as agile as they need to be. To succeed in business, you need to disrupt current methods. “Disrupt or be disrupted.” Amazon is demonstrating this by moving into groceries and now medical coverage. As a result, the traditional businesses in these two industries have seen their stock prices impacted – to survive they need to change NOW. The hotel & meetings industry has been in growth mode since 2010, and the indicators are all pointing to continued growth because demand is outpacing room supply. Also, the stereotypes for Millennials are wrong. Older millennials (28-36) are at that phase in their professional lives where they’re looking for face-to-face meetings and networking opportunities, they want mentoring, and they want fellowship…just like every other generational group. So, focus on the psychographics of your target markets (i.e., their behaviors, interests, needs, etc) and not their demographics (i.e., age, race, gender, etc). Michael wrapped up his content-rich program by saying, “Forget content is king. Context is king.” Be able to make your case, Why does what you have to say matter, and How do they do it?

The final content presenter was Jay Baer, CSP. Jay presented a tight program on The Future of Lead Generation. The key to lead generation is passing The Expectation Equation. If they’re expected interaction with you exceeds their expectations, they consider that good customer service. If they’re interaction doesn’t exceed their expectations, they consider it/you a poor value. Jay then shared the example of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari theme park in Indiana, that has learned to leverage what Jay calls “Talk Triggers” to raise customer loyalty, reputation, branding and leads. Talk triggers are things you do/say that compel others to talk about you and by default promote you. These triggers help others understand how you create value for them. Jay shared that to generate leads you need T’s and C’s (Talk Triggers and you need to Create Change for your customers.” What are you doing to uniquely position yourself to be different, memorable, and true to your brand as you move your client through the 6 steps of a speech sale: Awareness, Consideration, Lead, Sale, Event, Post-Event. Each step is an opportunity to create a unique interaction with/for your customer through videos, small gifts, unique business cards, etc. Jay wrapped it up and shared, “If you follow the leaders, the best you’ll ever be is second.”

That’s it! So much information and we’ve only just begun. Thanks to the amazing co-chairs Sylvie deGiusto and Ben Wolff for following NSA President Brian Walter’s instructions for this conference: Be Bold. Leave Room for Magic. No Drama! So far, so good!

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