As a member of the support team at UK speaker bureau JLA it’s easily assumed that I’m a good person to talk to about the latest, greatest conference speakers or presenters. Well, I do try, although coming up with the goods when asked about the famous people I’ve met is a different story (‘Erm…David Blunkett’s dog was lovely!’). But I do see a lot of familiar faces coming through the front door of our offices in W1 and hungrily scan their biogs while they catch up with our agents. After dinner speakers meet clients, motivational speakers pop by, conference speakers come up to preview new material and my curiosity is piqued. But it’s not just what our guest speakers have to say that intrigues me. More often than not, it’s the way they walk.
I’ve always been interested in the way people move, and can be completely captivated by a stranger’s habitual hunching shoulders or jutting head. All manner of habits that we ease ourselves into over the years can really affect how we talk and how we’re being perceived when we’re doing so. When you’re being paid to speak publicly, posture, movement and your entire physicality becomes something that needs work and consideration. Ever more consciously, my first impressions of people are due to their stance, their movement. My interest has grown as I have embarked upon Alexander Technique lessons, because the technique is focused on gaining awareness of the body and fine-tuning it to get the best use of it. I find the way guest speakers hold our attention is synonymous with the way they hold themselves more and more. Artists like Sting, John Cleese, Ruby Wax, the late, great Robin Williams have utilised the Alexander Technique to enhance their performances, and for conference speakers and performers the body is a most important tool and body language a powerful force for communication.
When Dr. Steve Bull (Team GB’s sports psychologist and one of our sought after motivational speakers) came by to give us a sneak preview of his talk, we weren’t surprised to see open arms, a steady stance and plenty of fist pumping. Attitude is a decision, as Steve wisely reminded us. So while what our motivational speakers have to say is what we tend to advertise, it’s often their presence, energy and enthusiasm that really closes a deal, and it’s what gets the comments and recommendations flying.
While it’s true that I might not be hearing any big names speak on topic in the near future, I’ve already noted whether or not this season’s most in demand guest speakers head into our speaker bureau with a bound, a slink or a scurry. I’ve consciously decided just how motivated others are likely to be by them too -I’m basing it on little more than their first few steps. Whether our esteemed conference speakers are stepping into reception here at JLA, or up to the lectern onstage at the Grosvenor, they’re influencing people before they’ve even opened their mouths.