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Give your audience an authentic voice

Friday, 08 May 2015

Thoughts on how to engage delegates at your next event, by Jamie McAffer – Creative Director, mclcreate

As we watch the politics being played out on our TV screens, the outcome of the election takes second place to what I see as a landslide movement towards giving your audience a voice.

It is no longer acceptable for politicians to stand behind lecterns issuing sound bites to a loyal and primed audience of yes-men, in fact where this happens it has been commentated on in the media as a negative for not connecting with the public.  What really engages with the audience and the voting public is the chance to ask the politicians open and honest questions and to see them react and answer in an authentic way.

During live leader debates on the BBC, the audience was recognised as being well informed and insightful: "This must be the soundest audience ever assembled by the BBC” tweeted Fraser Nelson of the Spectator, even the leaders enjoyed it and appreciated the chance to interact with an audience in this way.  David Cameron’s thank you tweet to the audience was shared over 1,000 times and Nick Clegg wrote: “Very much enjoyed taking part in that special @bbcquestiontime. Great format, great questions, great audience, great show.”

I believe that big lessons can be learned from this for our clients to use at their events.  Creating an authentic voice for the presenter and the audience is vital to allow everyone to connect with the message.  Our customers need to trust their audiences more to shape the content and agenda for events; they are the people you are trying to connect with and you should listen to what they want to hear.  It shouldn’t be a case of – what message do you want them to hear, but rather – what message do they want to hear?

At mclcreate we believe in the Delegate Journey, it influences everything we do, and it’s only by interacting with your audience pre-event, allowing them to have an opinion and entering into a debate before they've even got to the venue, that you will get an event that absolutely connects with your audience.

Then take those learnings into the live arena. Present in a format that allows debate, conversation and authenticity, and we believe you’ll have an event that is truly valuable for you, and more importantly for your audience.  

Of course it is vital that this authentic voice doesn't stop after the lights go out. But that the debate and the discourse becomes a virtuous circle with post event feedback and follow ups to keep everyone’s voice heard.

The politicians learn so much from instant feedback from the voting public and they can see that when they let their guard down and allow that voice of authenticity to come out, that they can really connect with their audience.  I feel it is vital that corporate events need to follow these trends and allow themselves to open up and have real meaningful debate at their events.  If this happens at more events post this election then that'll get my vote.

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