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Improving your Keynote Speaking | David Burkus & Stephen Shapiro

Improving your Keynote Speaking | David Burkus & Stephen Shapiro | 409

Expanding your keynote speaking to meet longer engagements.

An interview with David Burkus & Stephen Shapiro that originally aired on November 17th, 2021, as part of Leveraging Thought Leadership Live on LinkedIn.

A single keynote won’t incite change, but it can start the ball rolling. Companies are starting to demand programs that take a keynote’s lessons deeper, investing resources in building long term relationships with thought leadership.

To discuss the way keynote speaking has changed since the onset of COVID-19, I’ve invited two of the best speakers in the business to share their insights and talk about how they’ve navigated this new era of thought leadership speaking.

David Burkus is a best-selling author of Lead From Anywhere: The Essential Guide to Managing Remote Teams and internationally renowned keynote speaker, using forward thinking ideas to help leaders and teams do their best work.

Stephen Shapiro is the author of Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems, and a Hall of Fame Speaker helping organizations keep up with the increasing pace of change.

David and Stephen share how they’ve changed their keynote services to meet the needs of a remote clientele, and what it’s like to have their business moving to more than 50% non-speaking generated revenue. They share how they are creating webinars, master classes, and certification programs, that take the ideas in their keynote and make them have a longer lasting effect.

We discuss the benefits of virtual speaking, such as no longer being restricted by travel and time zones, as well as being able to offer bookended solutions that make a good keynote serve as an introduction to an ongoing engagement – instead of the end of one. In addition, we look at the drawbacks of being remote, such as difficulties networking and building community. Our guests offer great insight into how to create long lasting relationships through gamification, competition, and other online tools.

This conversation offers incredible information on pushing your keynote beyond a single transaction, and into a long-lasting relationship!

Three Key Takeaways:
  • Build your keynote as a bookended experience, using speaking as a lead-in to a multiple-week challenge, and adding a debrief at the end in order to create greater engagement.
  • Companies want more than an inspiring keynote. They want thought leadership that will take your insights and ideas and make them actionable for every employee.
  • You can create networking and community in virtual thought leadership events by providing tools that allow the audience to engage with the content, and each other both during and after the event.

If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.



Peter Winick And welcome, welcome, welcome. We are on the LinkedIn Live today and I’ve got two fun guys today who I know fairly well, Steve Shapiro and Dave Burkus. So let me introduce them both and we’ll dive in.

Peter Winick Steve Shapiro cultivates innovation by showing leaders in their team how to approach, tackle and solve their business channel, uh, challenges. He’s the author of – I’ve forgotten how many – six books now? Steve?

Steven Shapiro Six books, yeah.

Peter Winick Six books. He’s been on the board of National Speakers Association. He’s in the Speaker’s Hall of Fame. We can go into all sorts of other credentials, but I’d rather talk to him.

Peter Winick And then we’ve got David Burkus, who is one of the world’s leading business thinkers. David Burkus is the forward thinking, ideas and bestselling books are helping leaders and teams do their best work. Now, your three books, David? How many books?

David Burkus Four and a half year and a half. The half is, I did a little thing with Audible right before the pandemic, targeting leaders who have long commutes and that sort of thing. And then the pandemic hit and nobody bought it because nobody had a commute anymore. But yeah, four and a half, but I’ve never done a card game. Stephen’s got me beat there.

Steven Shapiro Stephen I do remember working on, right Steve. Steve, I think holds the record for having one of the only business books with a deck of cards attached to it, which we’ll get into on that. And David is also a world renowned speaker, so let’s just dive in, guys. So. Both of you, if we were introducing you two years ago, would be oh, keynote speakers would be one of the primary labels. Right. So let’s start with – what are you guys doing these days?

Steven Shapiro I’ll let David go first.

David Burkus All right. All right. I mean, still a lot of that just staring at this camera. August, you know, it seemed like the consensus was that after Labor Day of this year, midsummer, early September, for those watching internationally, everything was game on. Right. And then and then that happened. And our CDC kind of scared the pants off of everyone. And so now we’re all sort of struggling to it. I guess the biggest change in in what I do is that I found I used to be probably 5050 working at associate professional associations and that sort of stuff and working internally with clients and is probably now 80% internal. And sometimes I’m designing multiple training webinars and that sort of stuff for folks, which is fine because I think the internal is what’s going to stay virtual much more often. I think people are ready to get back to conferences, but companies aren’t ready to fly 2000 sales reps to the Bellagio for a week of training when they could do every afternoon over the course of a month and said.

Peter Winick Sure, for a fraction of the price.

David Burkus Right, right.

Peter Winick And what and what are you doing to stay out of trouble, Steve?

Steven Shapiro Well. So it’s interesting. Every year I choose a theme. And so in 2019 I chose for 2020 the theme was going to be virtual. Yes, this was before the pandemic. So this is actually something I wanted. Right now I’m not in my studio, but I’ve got a beautiful studio at home action hotel. But this is what I want. And so 20, 20, 21 was all around ongoing relationships. So what I’m really been doing for the past several years is transitioning away from the transactional nature of a speaking business to a relational nature of one where I actually work with companies to help them create a culture of innovation, deal with the most complex problem.

Peter Winick Yup.

Steven Shapiro So, I would say most of my work, so David was talking about how we went from 50-50 to 80-20 in terms of associations to employees of companies, I would say have probably gone to, you know, 50% non-speaking revenues and 50% speaking revenues. My goal is to switch that to 80% non-speaking revenues, 20% speaking revenues, speeches to be wanted. I want it to be the start of something rather than the end.

Peter Winick Yeah. So stay there for a minute because I think there’s a couple of really good points there. Number one is and it’s not a reflection of anybody’s personality or whatever. The speaking business in and of itself is a transactional business. Are you available on May 7th? Yes. This is my fee. Yes. Does it fit into it? Yes. Great. Come in. Do your thing. We’ve everybody’s hack, right? That is a transaction, right? The relationship piece is really interesting because as a speaker you don’t get to see I mean, you get the immediate gratification of the applause and all the sort of the accolades and all that. But you don’t necessarily get to see the impact of your work, of your ideas being implemented or processed or whatever. And so when you say relationship based, I sort of unpack that a little, Steve. I mean, we were talking before we got to live here, your working on a mastermind and things that are more longitudinal. So talk maybe talk about that a little bit.

Steven Shapiro Sure. So I’ll give you three different ways. One is masterminds, which are sort of cross-industry across company groups. Get people together all year long program. Very cool. Second one is going really, really deep with my clients are certifying their employees in my approach. So I have one client, for example, right now, which is a year long project for six months I’m certifying people in the company. The second six months, the people who are certified are now delivering that material to other people. And it’s not a train the trainer. It actually is teaching them to think the way I think and do what I do. So those are two deeper ones. But the one which is just it’s still a speech but it’s still different and it’s been really, really popular during the pandemic is sort of the bookended experience. So instead of the speech being the start, the virtual speech becomes or the end, the virtual speech becomes the start. Then we have what I call my five-week challenge, where there’s something which I have people go do, it’s a competition. And then after those five weeks, we do a second one where we sort of do a debrief, reflect some awards and things like that. And that’s really powerful because people now have a couple of months to practically apply the concepts rather than just sort of listen and then hope they apply it.

Peter Winick And what about you, David? What are you seeing from the transactional to relational continuum, if you will?

David Burkus Yeah, I mean, I don’t, I don’t think like, I have to learn how to think like Stephen in order to design some of these systems. Right. So maybe I need to go to a certification program first. You know, I see the same thing. So one of the weird things that happened in March 15th, 2020, give or take a day, right, is that pandemic hit, everything shifted to virtual layoffs happened across sectors. And what I really noticed was, at least internally, a lot of the folks that got laid off were if you had an internal event production team or something like that. Right. And so a lot of my conversations, just like Steven’s, probably, shifted from talking to the, you know, the events manager and what have you in the contract for this event to somebody in H.R. training, organizational development, etc.. And it was really a weird teasing out, right? Because for one time there, there, there, price anchor is a little different, right? Like maybe acquiring an off the shelf webinar or something like that. And so to convince them that you can bring a bigger production and get people more involved, etc. was a little rough. But to Steven point, what worked for a lot of folks was to say, you know, like, I know you’re thinking you need a training, right? You just need a 90 minute webinar one time. But like, if you really want to do this, here’s what you actually need. So let’s, let’s design this to where it’s either, you know, a webinar and then maybe some activities to do. And two weeks later, a circle back and let’s answer questions. Let’s unpack. You tried the activity, had to go, etc. or something like that. Sure. I find that conversation, at least for folks in our space, is a more productive one when you’re dealing with sort of those folks. Now, the irony is we’re starting to hire back set events managers and come back. But I actually think what’s interesting and what won’t go away is that if your organization is large enough to have a chief talent officer or director of organizational development, etc., they’re right back in the events conversation, which didn’t happen before. Like a lot of internal events, Chief Marketing Officer has her annual marketing summit with all the senior leaders in the marketing division and no one from 20 or so.

Peter Winick So yeah, so stay there for me, because I think that’s critical because the before days or whatever we’re going to the diner like really early and.

Steven Shapiro I call it ‘BC,’ before corona.

Peter Winick BC before corona, yeah. So the event side of the house was not held to the standard of capabilities, takeaways, learning, etc. At the end of the day, I think sort of the dirty secret of the speaking business is it doesn’t really impact behavior change. You got to get up there. You got to be smart. You got to be engaging for an hour. People will chat about it over the cocktail party, but there was no expectation, nor should there be, that on Monday they’re going to go do a bunch of things differently. Now they’re taking that same domain expertise, and each of you have different domain expertise and saying, You know what, we are willing to invest in the capability development of our folks, but it can’t just be 45 minutes on stage because I don’t care how good you are in 45 minutes on stage in a large venue, it’s really about maybe awareness of the idea, getting people engaged, getting them entertained. And I like what Steve said earlier, it really should be the opening act and I love the bookended approach where there’s a place to introduce concepts. But until people can apply it to their world, their problems, their stuff, it’s just, you know, it’s no different than sort of watching a Netflix or something.

David Burkus Yeah, exactly like it used to be before that. If you’re planning an internal event, let’s say, like I said earlier, you’re bringing 20 sales reps to the Bellagio and blah blah blah. Then you’re like you’re thinking, okay, they’re going to be sitting in boring meetings all day. Who can we get the keynote at for? Let’s get right. Let’s get Roger Staubach or let’s get Olympic medal. Let’s get somebody just engage and inspire and what have you. And maybe there’s a place for those folks in in whatever the sort of new future is. But, you know, Steven was actually ahead of the game on this and thinking about I remember before it was five weeks, it was the 30 day innovation challenge. And those thoughts and thinking about how can you apply those lessons off stage? I wonder, Steven, did you feel like you were trying to sell uphill on that prior to the pandemic and that conversation has gotten easier now or?

Steven Shapiro It’s definitely gotten easier. In fact, it’s so easy that pretty much I’ve convinced every single client, with few exceptions, that the book and that approach is the right approach. Part of it is because the cost to do the upfront, the first event and I want to talk something that I do during the events that I think is really important. Then I also create a custom password protected portal for every event which has videos, downloads, tools, templates and other materials. Then we do the challenge and then we do the segment. All of that is basically priced to be a little bit even a little bit less than one in-person speech. And so for them, it’s almost like a no brainer. People tell me clients who’ve worked with me in person say that they’re getting even much, much, much greater value from the virtual.

Peter Winick What I want to add to that, Steve, it’s not just the price, but as David alluded to earlier, weight, the training and development, the OD people are getting it. You’ve now opened yourself up right outside of because the events budget is what it is and they used to be pretty fat and pretty healthy, whatever. But this CD, OD Bucket, is a whole different budget, that you weren’t knocking on that door before. So when they look at it because the way the TD folks work is a little bit differently, they’re saying, Oh, how many people will keep college? What’s the per capita? Oh cool, that’s a $500 per person initiative or whatever the math is like. Yeah, that’s good. We have some training dollars, right? So it’s a different. I love being able to find multiple doors and line items on a budget to go after.

David Burkus Yeah. Know, I will say the budgets are different, at least, at least in my experience over the last 21 months, right? Yeah. In fact, before the pandemic had a much fatter budget than the Dee Dee team. So I think this has changed actually, to be to be candid. But when it started, it seemed like, you know, training folks were used to buying I hate to say this, but like a note not to say that Stephen and I are giant names, but like a no name trainer. In other words, somebody who focused on building a training business, not a reputation as a as a thing short. Right. I know that conversation. And that’s usually a lower price conversation. That’s usually an off the shelf training conversation.

Peter Winick Yeah.

David Burkus Right. And so it took a while, I think, to get those two budget numbers to sort of merge, but were there now. And so you need to learn to speak in a way that appeals to training for implementation. And then, you know, that’s how you’re going to get back to your events level budget.

Peter Winick Well. And there are two different budgets, right? So there will be events where you can get your old keynote rate and then there will be things more like training, like Steve’s talking about. But I think the other reality is, while speaking was great, most speakers were a little bit dishonest from the standpoint of, Oh yeah, this is my speaking fee for an hour. Well, if you live in Miami and the gigs in Seattle, it’s three days of your time. You’re only working for an hour. It’s amazing. Now what I have found how productive we all are. Right? And it’s you know, how even though we all had our hacks when it came to travel in the club and doing all those things, it’s kind of, you know, my days follow the sun. I start in Europe, the East Coast, the West Coast. But it’s like geography is kind of irrelevant.

Steven Shapiro Yeah, totally. I mean, that’s to me what’s beautiful about this. First of all, I look at my clients. I remember I was doing one event in Ireland originally. I was going to fly. There would have been 600 people in the audience. We had 3000 people. So first of all, the clients love it because they’re able to open it up to more people. And I think that’s really exciting. But also, you know, I have days where I’m doing three speeches in three different time zones, three different countries. I wouldn’t be able to physically do that in the past. So from my perspective, it’s great. From the client’s perspective, it’s great. But I also and here’s this is not necessarily the best measure, but one of the measures is I told you, I create this password protected portal for every event. When is a virtual event? We will get close to 100% of the people in the audience who go to the website, open the password, download the materials and use the materials for the in-person events. It’s a much lower percentage. So what we’re seeing is because the tools are right there at our fingertips, people are taking advantage of the digital tools and they’re applying them. And I think we’re just I think we’re actually getting greater results from the virtual world. And I’m not thinking of his training, but I really think of it as we’re building the ability for people to do something they couldn’t do before and think in a way they weren’t able to think in the past. I really just am very sold on the ability to do that digitally and virtually.

Peter Winick If you’re enjoying this episode of Leveraging Thought Leadership, please make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to help spread the word about our podcast, please leave us a review and share it with your friends. We’re available on Apple Podcasts and on all major listening apps as well as at

Peter Winick And what are you seeing, David, that you’re coming up on the New Year? What do you know, sort of what are you seeing? The pulse. And again, we you know, everything looked great around July 4th and then we had the Delta curveball and all that sort of stuff. What’s your what’s your vibe going into 22?

David Burkus Yeah. I mean, so far it seems to be swinging back into B.C. Like I said earlier, the divide for me seems to be internal versus association, right? If you’re in corporations, I’m having lots of conversations about still virtual things of that training, etc.. I don’t know. I don’t know of an association, a professional association, a a a for profit event or anything like that that’s still thinking, thinking virtual. I know I know a lot of folks in the event space who can’t wait to go back because the on the on the association side. Right. Everything follows sponsorship dollars. And as engaging as we can make our content, there is no way to make an engaging virtual sponsorship. And so people are excited to get back to that. So that so that’s what I see as the divide. And I like what Steven said. What appeals to me about that is the opportunity, because you used to be used to have to say no to an internal event that might be just as simple as a webinar when you were on the road and what have you. Sure. Now, not only is it possible to put multiple live or virtual events in a day, it’s possible. I mean, I did this last week. It involved waking up before the morning, which was kind of awful. But speaking at an in-person event, doing an internal event for an organization on the road, not unlike Steven’s doing today, coming at us from a hotel room, you take a risk. But also what’s weird is I think there’s more understanding for it to write. There’s more understanding for this idea that you’re going to be on the road and we’ll just build some ideas.

Peter Winick Yeah.

David Burkus And what have you, right?

Peter Winick So I want to touch on it sort of a little bit of a different thought. So when you think about this sort of big picture, where are we now, 20 months or whatever this is? Right. So I think one of the things that we’ve learned is you can deliver content this way now. It can’t be the same way we did it before, but content can be delivered digitally and I think companies have had a long time now to do the math and go, Oh wait, that’s fully loaded number. Bringing Steve or Dave to event X isn’t just the two days out of the office. It’s thousands of dollars, air, hotel, whatever. And if it’s only about content delivery, that’s going to be hard to justify. The pieces that I think are harder to do virtually are about sort of the community and then the connection, right? So I’ve seen all sorts of cool tools and Steve, you’ve seen them as well around connections, but there’s still something about the randomness of bumping into somebody at the cocktail lounge or the bar or at the buffet line or, you know, things that you can’t predict. But, you know, with a high probability, everybody at this event has some similar interest that I’m probably going to meet interesting people. So talk about sort of how you compensate for the connection and community elements that aren’t is easy to deliver this way.

Steven Shapiro I mean, I’ll give you my two cents. First of all, we need to understand the purpose of meetings and events. I mean, so is it primarily education, skills, building, capability, building? Is it networking? Many of them are hybrids. But I think it really depends on when you talk about associations like David did. Well, even though there’s an educational component, it really is also a networking type of thing that becomes important. What I find is extremely difficult to do virtually is to get good networking during an event. So, to me, what happened? Look, you do breakouts, or you can do swap car, you can do all these other guys apply to. But I don’t think that the way that I get people to connect is actually when you give if again, if you view the event as the start, maybe the connections don’t happen at the event. They happen right after the event. And so how do we keep those connections going? How do we keep them alive? Part of that is through gamification. Part of that’s through competitions. Part of that is through a variety of other tools that we use. That to me is the key, and we can actually keep things alive for much, much longer if we use the right tools. The problem with most in-person events is people go home and they’re done again right through the virtual. We can keep it alive longer. And I think that’s really an important thought.

Peter Winick Do you have something on that, David?

David Burkus Yeah, I mean, I’m mostly aligned with that. With apologies to everyone who’s saying venture capital dollars into all of these virtual meeting programs. And that’s when it comes to the human connection side. They’re there just until Zuckerberg actually rolls out the metaverse and we’re all there like in ready player one And even then, I think it’s an acceptable substitution for in-person but not, not in-person. And I would say the thing I’d add is I’d go beyond just networking on that. So I think we’re still going to see we may not see whole company meetings and that sort of thing, but I think we’re still seeing senior leadership off sites. And when it comes to actually wanting to problem solve, etc., the tools just aren’t there yet if they’ll ever be. So I like this idea that Steven had about what we need to do is plan out how they’re going to engage with the content afterwards, and that will keep them in connection with each other virtually over a longer period of time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a conference and they ask me, make sure after you speak you go into the virtual networking room and you go in there in a 400 person conference.

Peter Winick Three people, right?

David Burkus Yeah. All of them are there awkwardly. And, you know, it’s planned for 45 minutes. And after 7 minutes, everybody’s done because they just there’s no energy there. Yeah.

Peter Winick Yeah. And I think that’s hard to do.

David Burkus Right. Right.

Peter Winick And well, there’s no, there’s no drinking involved in those virtual.

David Burkus Yeah. Yeah. I just think that’s point even in a virtual thing, I’ve done the same thing where if I’m working with a client and we’re doing a 90 minute or two hour long session where it’s little bit of content, and then I’ll put you in breakout rooms to discuss to discuss a question. And almost every single time they get mad at me when the break room closes and they have to come back because again, they’re conversing around that actual piece of content, right? So then you take themes, approach, you roll that out over four or five weeks and you’ve got something special.

Peter Winick So part of this is really about, as a keynoter, or it’s it’s largely about you. You’re keeping their attention, you’re controlling the room. There’s some some what’s the theatrics of the music, the lights, the slideshow, whatever. So you are part of the show. And I think we’re moving to a world where how does the content, how does the IP stand up on its own without you and make it interesting and sticky and engaging enough so people can have these cool conversations? And I love what you said, David, when, you know, it’s actually a compliment when you bring people back from the break out. No, no, no. That was you were having so much fun. We’re just getting into it. Whatever. And you weren’t even in the room, right? Like there was something about the IP. And you also have to have the right people in the right rooms to have some more conversations. But, you know, how do you sort of make this self-service version of the thought leadership in the intellectual property, in the content so that it sort of unleashes power in the rooms, the zooms, the breakouts, wherever it may be? Cool.

David Burkus Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think to some extent there’s a there’s a shift in the hidden advantage we saw. Stephen, I know you saw this, too, because we run in the same circles, you know, a flood to buy all sorts of live streaming equipment and do everything. And pretty much everyone should have made an upgrade. But we had some friends that were, you know, dropping $30,000 on Multicamera studios and switchers. And that and technology became how they were going to be engaged. I took a totally different approach. I was a business school professor for ten years. I took courses in instructional design in graduate school, like. So as soon as it flipped from you’re giving a 45 minute keynote to a 90 minute workshop. It was like, okay, let me apply all of those lessons. Little bit of content, structure, discussion with questions, bringing about. So that became the new killer app, right? It was.

Peter Winick Okay, but you’re an anomaly, David. So I think that’s a critical point. So the the classic path that a typical speaker makes is they’ve got their 45 minute speech and then a client comes to them and says, Can you do a two hour workshop? And they go, Oh yeah, that’s just like a long speech, right? So it’s more about me, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Can you do a half day? Yeah, I could probably talk for three days. Right. But very few really have an understanding and appreciation of the power of instructional design because now the challenges. It’s not about you, it’s about transferring knowledge to others. And different people receive knowledge in different ways. And there is a whole art and science of instructional design that that is quite frankly, not understood by many. And when you move from a keynote to a learning experience, if you do not have those skills in the room, whether you have them or you’re bringing someone else in to do it, it’s going to flop or it’s not going to be you know, there’s only so much you can do with your woo woo when, you know, however charming, engaging, smarter than you are, and it can last for happiness.

David Burkus Right? Exactly. And nobody you know, if they’re if they’re actually on ESPN on a different screen and they don’t realize that you have three cameras. Right. You lost them a while back. So thinking about that from the standpoint of that now, it’s okay. That wasn’t it. That was an anomaly in that I had a hidden advantage, but other people thought the same way. Stephen started designing these longer charts. And I mean, it was everybody placed their bets, right? And some people bet on technology and some people bet on the conversation shifted. And I, I don’t know who’s right. What I’ll tell you is there are people who are getting higher virtual fees as a percentage of their revenue that maybe I am, but I’m getting that client three or four times, you know, because the experience is more engaging, what have you when people end up going, That was awesome. Can you do this for this division now?

Steven Shapiro Sure. Sure.

Peter Winick Which wouldn’t happen in the keynote world. I mean, exactly. The thing about the keynote world is. Thanks, that was awesome. We won’t see you next year, but.

David Burkus Right now you have a new book. We’re not interested in you. Yeah, yeah, right. Right.

Steven Shapiro Well, I just want to build on something that David just said is I think, you know, engagement is really the key, because if look, you can go watch a speech in an in person and you just sort of kick back and you enjoy it. But virtually if you do that, it’s it’s it just doesn’t work. And so to me, it’s like the way we engage with an audience virtually has to be different than the way we engage them in person. I actually love it. I’ll tell you a couple of things that I really love. I’ll just tell you two quick things. One is, I love chat. I know it sounds ridiculous, but what I love about Chat is, first of all, it’s an it’s a anybody can speak. Even the people are the most introverted. If you ask a group or let’s say, you know, regardless of the size, now we get a thousand people talking at the same time and everybody has a voice. And I acknowledge as many as I can. Obviously, larger events, it’s hard to call out every single person’s name. But you want people to feel like if you create an experience and the chats are just, how’s the weather where you are? That’s stupid. No, these are like really mind expander experiments that I do with them. The second thing, this is going to sound maybe a little strange. When I do an in-person event, I’m always looking at the audience reading body language, and that actually puts me off my game a little bit with virtual. What I love is I’m just focused on the camera delivering 100% the absolute best I can. Instead of worrying about one person on the side who might be looking at their phone and then start, my brain starts spiraling out of control. I’m able to stay laser focused on what I need to do. I really do think that my virtual is just killer because I’ve taken the time to design it the right way.

Peter Winick So it’s amazing to think about that.

Steven Shapiro Go ahead. Go ahead.

Peter Winick Why do you say it’s not just the design? I started thinking about it a little bit differently in that when we first started everything going virtual year and a half or whatever ago, it reminded me of any time one medium goes to the next. Like the first silent films were like, Please, right? And then the first talkies were like, there was the phase of almost adolescence or awkwardness. So if you think about, well, what are the attributes of a great speaker that big right? So if you take all those things you’re staging and they do all this sort of stuff, when you do that, when we’re all living in a little box, it’s like everybody’s crazy Eddie or everybody’s other, the used car salesman on your local cable TV, and it just doesn’t work, right? So now everybody’s come into their own. And I think the sexiness or the sizzle of the technology. And I can click a button and it looks like I’m in Nassau or whatever. I mean, what we’re looking at now on the screen is a typical television production today on a CNN or something. Right.

David Burkus So you yell at each other more, but.

Peter Winick Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. We need to. Right, right. We don’t have pros and cons, but, you know, this is sort of it’s fine. It’s not to discount professionalism, but we need good lighting. I mean, there’s some basic block and tackle things that you need. And above and beyond that, I don’t know that you’re adding value with all the slickness and the click, the buttons and all that sort of stuff.

David Burkus Yeah, no, I look, I saw the same thing in higher education, which I still kind of keep like one go in because that was my background. When the pandemic hit, you know, basically March, everybody went on spring break and then got told, don’t come back from an undergraduate education since we’re going do the rest of the semester. And what happened is you asked 75 year old tenured professors to give Zoom lectures. And so they went, well, a Zoom lecture is an in-person lecture. Instead of the big noticeable difference you saw is that schools or whole universities that had some level of experience with adult education, in particular distance based adult education, totally different route, right? If you if you’ve ever been involved in online education, if not attending Zoom lectures, right, it’s for autonomous self-paced learners. And so when you flip to that and you realize that that’s what happened, but there were a lot of people that were like, Yeah, I’ll just put the lecture on Zoom like. And then. Right. And then wonder why ever nobody came back.

Peter Winick Right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Steve, you had something there.

Steven Shapiro Yeah, well, I’ll build on that. Just one other thing is, I believe we have the ability now to take advantage of asynchronous communication in a way that we didn’t in the past. We always assume that if we want to do something, we have to get together people in a room. In the beginning of the pandemic, basically everybody went onto Zoom or teams or whatever version. One of the things which I spent a lot of time with my clients and discussing strategizing is what happens before the event that we can do asynchronously. Is there a video that I shoot that everybody watches before the event so that when we get into the event, especially for more intimate events, we can have conversations rather than just me. One way dialog let’s have a conversation or one way monologue. We have a conversation. So it’s really that use of asynchronous technologies that have really exploded in the way that I run my business.

Peter Winick Yeah, I love it. So as we start to wrap up here, any final thoughts, reflections, words of wisdom. We’ll start with you, Dave. No pressure, but everybody’s listening and expecting something profound and earth shattering. Ready, go.

David Burkus Yeah. I mean, I think we kind of hit it where you talked about that. Every every new medium, people just assume let’s take the old medium and shift it. I saw that in the event space. Right. So people started thinking they have to do breakout rooms, they have to do this or that. Just do what you kind of what you can do and don’t pretend it. And to be honest with you, the biggest thing I worry about in this is hybrid. I worry about in 2022 are being so focused on designing hybrid events that when you feel like when you actually pay the money to attend in person, you feel like you’re a studio audience. Right? I really worry about.

Peter Winick Right, right. Let’s get back to it.

David Burkus So. Right, exactly. So either let’s abandon the hybrid or let’s get back to thinking about what is the format we’re doing and how does that change it. Maybe you end up running two events simultaneously, which is a is a lot, so maybe they’ll skip doing it. But think about the medium that you’re in first and don’t just think about how you can port what you used to do over to that medium.

Peter Winick Use that as the blank canvas to build on or to bring in everything over you. Steve?

Steven Shapiro So I would say that and I don’t know if my Internet’s a little wonky because everybody’s heads sort of do a little Max Headroom. So maybe there’s a Internet challenge. I think, you know, what we need to do is always step back and ask, what’s the purpose? What’s the purpose of the event? What’s the purpose of the meeting? And let’s reverse engineer based on the outcome and the goals, not the fact that it’s an event. I think in the past we treated all meetings and all events the same, and I think that’s always been a mistake. And so let’s not go back to perpetuating bad habits that we might have been doing in the past. Let’s really rethink based on the outcomes. What is the best way to create the ultimate experience before, during and after event? Asynchronously synchronously and then really just thinking about like, what are the best tools to make that happen?

Peter Winick Thank you. I appreciate and thank you for sharing so much, everyone.

Peter Winick To learn more about Thought Leadership Leverage. Please visit our website at Thought Leadership Leverage dot com. To reach me directly, feel free to email me at Peter at, and please subscribe to Leveraging Thought Leadership on iTunes or your favorite podcast app to get your weekly episode automatically.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

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