Is it a good idea to put thought leadership on stage?
Live events can be a risky business, and organisations can often suffer stage fright when it comes to taking their thought leadership into the spotlight.
But according to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matthew McAllester, MD of live debating platform ‘Intelligence Squared’ and James Farmer, CIM’s Head of Brand Marketing, brands that put their thought leadership centre stage can reap the benefits.
Around thirty corporate and B2B communications professionals gathered at our London offices last week to listen as Matthew and James shared their tips for making events a successful part of your thought leadership strategy.
1. Bring it alive
Robust opinions are ones that can withstand healthy debate. Aim to foster genuine engagement at your thought leadership events, creating nuanced discussion about the reality of the landscape around you. Embrace disagreement and engage with the discussion. Your brand position will look stronger for it, and your audience will leave with something to think about.
2. Presentation, presentation, presentation
Oratorical efforts can go viral for all the wrong reasons. You can see Microsoft’s CEO mistaking enthusiasm for clarity here. The panel discussed the dangers of putting untrained executives on a stage. It’s nothing to be ashamed about – “most of us are terrible public speakers” – but it’s worth investing in presentation training or considering other formats which suit them. Consider putting your CEO in the chair for a panel event, or have them introduce a keynote speaker, for example.
3. Say hello to AIDA
AIDA is a communications model which identifies the cognitive stages an individual goes through during the buying process. Showing how buyers move from Awareness to Interest through to Desire and Action, it helps marketers to segment audiences and tailor messages to each group. When presenting to a group of delegates, you’ll want to consider where your audience sit on the scale and present your thoughts accordingly. To a room full of existing customers, you’ll want to speak differently than to a group who don’t know you from Adam.
4. Believe in the afterlife
You know the feeling: the big day has come and gone, the balloons are looking a bit limp, the leftover prosecco has lost its fizz. But the aftermath of a thought leadership event is when the magic happens. The ‘Digital afterlife’ can see your thought leadership live on in the form of video and podcast content, as well as interviews with speakers, blogs and press coverage. Including the thoughts and responses of other industry leaders can help to foster engagement and debate long after the stage lights are lowered.
Treat Thought Leadership as a product: guided by a clear purpose and objectives; with messages tailored by audience and channel with the help of the AIDA model. Depending on your starting point, authority and return on investment won’t appear overnight, but every brand has to begin somewhere.