Internal speakers bureaus make good business sense

A client company was preparing to deliver a one-day seminar to its major clients. Let’s call it the Acme University.

“It’s time to give the sales guys a rest,” said the new VP. “Let’s show off the brainiacs who invent our products.”

In a moment of brilliance, he then suggested that the firm use these people not only at Acme University, a one-day event for existing clients, but also at targeted industry conferences.  They wanted to showcase the incredible talent that sat on the bench at the core of the company.

Great idea, until it occurred to the VP that he should see the technical guys speak. He did, and when he saw, he reached for the phone.

“They’re pretty good in small groups, sitting around a table,” he said. “But they are not accustomed to speaking to large crowds. We’ve got to move them from being a bar band to a stadium rock show. We gotta get ’em ready for prime time.”

The idea is that their credibility and reputation with other technical people will create more leads, draw interest from the industry, position the company as a center of excellence within their vertical, help to attract better employees, and improve engagement and morale within the firm.

However, before they can do this effectively, they need help in a variety of areas: shaping content to be more story-like and personal; rehearsing so that the content flows; boosting their comfort in front of crowds, and projecting with enough intention to hold the attention of a large group.

So we are involved in a very old-fashioned analogue form of marketing–retro-marketing you could call it.  In addition to the standard slog of digital and TV advertising, the VP is using the oldest form of marketing known to man, oratory:  put a guy on a stump or a soapbox and see if he can gather a crowd.  In our age we refer to this as public speaking and presenting.

However, the speakers do not have to do it alone.  We are arming them with the knowledge and skills to succeed. They are currently incubating in our developmental lab, but soon they will burst onto the stages of the world,  armed with a dynamite script, elegant slides, and the rehearsal time necessary for comfort and ease.

And not just one person, but a whole bunch of them. A cohort of world-class experts on the bleeding edge of their particular business, being turned into world-class speakers, getting their act together and taking it on the road.

Sounds like a re-run of the 19th Century Chautauqua phenom. Or a company-wide version of TED. Whatever it is, it speaks to the power of the live, face-to-face encounter with an actual human being–up close and in person, able to answer questions and think on his or her feet, which most digital marketing isn’t yet able to do.

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