Monday, April 18, 2016

My Experience at the NSA CSP/CPAE Summit

Last weekend was the National Speakers Association "CSP/CPAE SUMMIT" at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

The small (77 people) conference was a series of mastermind discussions in large and small groups with other Certified Speaking Professionals (CSPs). I had the honor to be the co-chair (and the master of ceremonies) for this event.

(Do not think for a minute that being up in front of a crowd of speakers is not scary. Speakers are a tough crowd. I will admit to being a little nervous about this one).

Even with responsibility in the running of the event, I still was able to participate in the conversations about trends in the meetings industry and ways to impact our individual businesses. The list of things I need to be doing differently is very robust.

We had several video interviews with experienced meeting professionals who talked about how the business of meetings is currently undergoing major changes, and what this means for the speakers they put on stage. Association and corporate events are facing lots of pressure to reinvent the experience they are delivering for attendees, and the speakers are intimately integrated into that experience.  We all need to be having this discussion no matter what industry we work in, as change is always going to happen.

We also heard from a university researcher about what motivates people to participate in group situations.  His area of study began with decline in participation in some churches, while others thrived.  However the data matches closely with the Meetings Industry.  Talk about having to look at the world differently, this guy was a highlight of the whole weekend.

There was candid discussions about how speakers need to modify our delivery, marketing, audience engagement, and interaction with the planning committees as the new rules for events looms on the horizon. Nobody wants to be Blockbuster in a Netflix World.

I was reminded by being part of this event that is is a good thing to be involved in your industry association (no matter what you do for a living). Engagement can have deep value when you get past your own "self" and "ego" and become part of a community.  Volunteering showed me a whole new side to the organization and many of its members.

An association, like any group, will have a variety of people and a wide-range of personalities. I found that when I remember that I am not the smartest person in the room the best ideas come my way.  Being open to a variety of points of view is key if you do not want to feel like you are always fighting an uphill battle.

A higher understanding and respect for those who plan events also became evident.  Spending a year working on The Summit with my co-chair and the NSA Staff person (who is amazing) was an eye opening experience. There is so much to do to ensure a positive culture at a multi-day event, and there is no way any event professional will please everyone.  You have to find your vision for the whole experience and move ahead the best you can.  

The CSP / CPAE Summit allowed me to grow as a professional speaker and as a person. I was inspired and challenged both in my role as co-chair, but also as part of the tribe of CSPs. There is a lot of gratitude inside me for the people who were present at this conference.   While I am sure that different people had any number of personal experiences, I hope they all feel inspired from this gathering.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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