25th November 2021
My last face-to-face speaking event was back in 2019. It seems a world away now, given the tumultuous events of the last two years.
So it was with slight trepidation, but also nervous excitement, that I signed up to speak again at the same conference - the B2B Marketing Expo, at London's ExCel.
The reason I wanted to speak at the event is that we had such fond memories of our first visit. We had met some amazing brands and some great people and I felt that the talks I delivered had really helped and connected with people.
One of the main reasons I do speaking events is that I have an overwhelming desire to help others, sharing my advice and experience.
The expo runs over two days, described as Europe’s leading marketing event. Thousands of people attend and the event has a fantastic array of expert speakers, masterclasses, exhibitors and panelists.
As I was speaking on both days, I booked myself into the nearest hotel, settled in and worked on my slides. My first talk was entitled Brand or Bland, an interactive session, helping people to understand what we mean by 'brand', how they can go about crafting a brand that adds real value, and why they should even bother. With all of my talks, I like to include the audience as much as possible, rather than simply talk at them for the entire duration.
For this session, I included our brilliant brand archetypes tool, Archie. I even attempted a Derren Brown style mind trick, by asking someone to randomly throw a ball into the audience, for me to then read their website 'about us' page and match their brand to an archetype. It was great fun and the feedback was brilliant.
Day two was my keynote talk on Innovation and Disruption. This time we had some (inevitable) tech issues. I am dumbfounded by the fact that these huge conference cannot deal with speakers using Macs. In the end, thanks to the brilliant AV guy, Julian, we managed to get the slides working.
Again, I involved the audience, playing a game of bullshit bingo with them and also running a pop quiz all the way through with questions ranging from who invented the first printing press (Johannes Gutenberg) through to who said "if I had asked them what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse" (Henry Ford).
Again, despite the slight tech wobbles, then talk went well and people gave me some great feedback. My favourite moment really came when I stepped off the stage and was thanked by the two hosts, Karen and Judy. Their job is to look after the speakers and scan people's badges as they enter the seated areas. I always make a point of thanking everyone involved, as they often get overlooked. They were so thankful for being mentioned ("no-one has ever mentioned us before!"), they even asked if I had a book to accompany the talk, as they were so taken by what I said, they wanted to apply some of the thinking to their own lives. This left me wondering if this might be a great idea for a book!
This is the reason I do talks. For that magical moment when you connect with someone in a really meaningful manner, to have a positive impact on their lives in some way. The talk was ultimately about making people think differently about the things we do on a day-to-day basis and to ask "is this the best way to do this?".
After two years of giving talks over Zoom and Teams, it was an absolute joy to be back seeing people face-to-face (and having to wear trousers again). There is nothing quite like the buzz you get from a live audience and the interaction you can have with people in a real life scenario.
So, thank you to everyone who came to hear me and to everyone who works at the conference, for making me feel welcomed and helping with any of the talks. We will see you again next year. In the meantime, if you host events and are looking for speaker, do get in touch.