Three steps to getting your the content right at your event

I love the work I do coaching individuals to give great performances, and once in a while I get to work on a whole event. This is the hardest work I do, trying to balance all the conflicting forces which go into an event to produce a work of communication which works on every level and is truly engaging.

This is how I work. I would love to hear of other processes which work for you.

The first session – ideally – contains all the stakeholders in the event, which is easier to arrange in a corporate setting. Depending on the circumstance I have a number of techniques I use all leading to a situation – again ideally – where each speaker has a one sentence summary of their presentation, which is often the final thing they will say before leaving the stage.

This is when I'm at my most facilitator-ish. I don’t get involved in the internal power struggles because they really don’t matter. I find that if I engage with politics then politics engages with me. I am the “voice of the customer”, in this case the audience, determining what is right in their eyes to make the event a worthy return on their investment in time and travel.

Once each contributor leaves with their direction set, I revert to my usual, individual, coaching work.

For this second step I become a little Jekyll and Hyde. Mr Hyde is in the room solely focussed on the individual I am working with, whilst Dr Jekyll occasionally bursts in to remind us of the bigger picture. Or is that the other way around? Ideally this is how all presentation coaching sessions would run; with a clear objective and an overview. There have been times when this step is done by another coach – either because the speaker has a personal relationship with someone else or, more usually, for reasons of geography.

The third step is a group session which often occurs on site the day before the event when rehearsals bring all the speakers together again. There are occasional adjustments needed, particularly if some external events have changed the communication landscape. This is mostly around stagecraft and rehearsal, no fundamental changes to content are made here.

The end result is a properly “curated” event which brings clarity and value. If it is that straightforward to achieve, why are there so many disparate events out there? The answer – in my opinion – is that few event organisers have the influence to make corporate speakers toe any kind of a line. After all, these are senior executives several pay grades above the organiser.

Many of my colleagues used to moan about events which were organised by “the Managing Director’s PA” or someone similar, but at least that person had the clout by proxy to involve the speakers for their own good.


It’s taken a while to arrive at this three step method, I wonder if you know any other ways to align speakers to larger goals?

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