How in person events have changed from "talking at" to "talking with" people



As we open up, events are moving back in person, and my workshops are too. Here are some reflections on switching from on-screen to in-person and how people’s expectations have changed.

  • People, when with people want to interact, and the energy in the room is like the excitement of a happy family reunion

  • “Talking at people” with a traditional keynote in a sit-down event may not be the best use of the time; information consumption via our screen was a large part of the last two years

  • “Talking with” and “people talking amongst themselves" is the better way to use the time, creating an environment that puts something out there and people engage with you and amongst themselves to discuss and stretch the thinking

I discussed with several other speakers who said the inspirational keynote remains relevant, but the desire to interact with experts and other attendees is greater than ever. So what is the difference?

  • An inspirational keynote is a story by someone who has achieved or overcome something significant, Steve Jobs at Stanford remains an all-time personal favourite

  • An insightful keynote is someone who has spent their life studying a particular topic, is a deep expert and can share their insights with others. Here are five Ted Talks potentially considered some of the best

  • An immersive experience is a combination of inspiration and insights that are facilitated, creating a conversation about the content

In 2020 based on several client requests, I, like some other speakers, shifted from the content delivery to the conversation about the content. There is a difference. Our clients noticed more interactive and meaningful engagement from attendees.


What is the benefit for the organisation holding the event?

  • Sharing of information becomes two way; organisations can now have greater empathy with their customers as they share their stories

  • Solution selling moves to problem-solving; empathy allows clients to evolve their product or approach based on client circumstances. These circumstances are now different to what they were in 2019

  • Attendees learn from each other, rather than one person being speaker, it has a 10X effect, and as they consider how they practically apply what is shared


The additional benefit is value to the attendees who have given up their time; how is this achieved?


Through content to provoke attendee conversations. These conversations are within the session rather than external to it. These sessions are more informal and casual, creating an environment of reflection and learning.


Those leading the sessions use great content with a combination of visuals, stories and insights, acting as a facilitator.