I went to a Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business lunch recently with a great speaker, Helen Webb. She is a former MD of lastminute.com.
Her brief for after lunch speaking slot (never the easiest!) was to tell us about herself and share some of her insights and advice. Despite her high profile, like many women, Helen said she wasn’t enormously comfortable talking about herself so she found a really innovative way to do it.
She gave a bag to one of the tables and the bag contained a series of numbers that she asked people at the table to draw out one at a time. Each number represented a key point of her experience or of her advice. Zero for example, represented a particularly powerful point she made about her husband being diagnosed with cancer and being given zero % chance of survival. Mercifully he did survive and she went on to make the point about never giving up! It meant that she had to be agile in her approach and talk to whatever number was drawn, and she did fluently and conversationally.
She also found a great way to frame some of the challenges women in business face. She asked everyone to stand up if they were striving their hardest to be the best they could be, so we all stood, then she asked us to stand on one foot if we also had a house to run; then she asked us to pat our stomach if we had parents over 65 and then she asked us to hop if we had children under 18!! Fortunately nobody actually fell over but it was close. That kind of crazy multi-tasking is, she said what it’s like to be a woman in business!
Keeping an audience’s attention is often about doing something a little differently and she made use of two devices that certainly grabbed and held this audience’s attention and got their engagement with whatever she had to say.