Keynote Speaker: Love Thy Audience, Not Thyself

True Success as a Professional Keynote Speaker Requires More than Skill

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Successful business keynote speakers must embody a range of skills, talents and a mindset, but I believe that one attribute stands above all others. It is the requirement that professional speakers – Love Their Audiences!

Sound trite? Possibly, but it is however, TRUE! I have been speaking professionally since 2000 to corporate, association and government audiences globally. During this time I have heard and shared the stage with numerous speakers. There styles and content or lack thereof, varied widely, but one attribute always came through loud and clear. Their reason for speaking professionally. It was either that they had discovered a great way to ‘make a living’ by pitching them self, their other services and products from the stage or they were doing it because they ‘loved their audiences’ and wanted to help them to survive and prosper in the wake of the post 2001 and 2008 economic crashes.

Elite Meetings Business Keynote Speaker John Di Frances

John Di Frances keynote speaking at an Elite Meetings Event

Many Audiences Today Are Overworked & Highly Stressed

Professional speakers are no different than anyone else in wanting to earn a good living by being compensated for their services, as does every true professional, but for the best professional keynote business speakers, that is not the primary motive for their speaking. Today’s business audiences, corporate or association, are frequently comprised of people who are ‘stressed to the max’ by global competitiveness, long working hours, stagnant wages, down-sizing, right-sizing and a multitude similar influences, which are not positive. All of these combine to create enormous emotional STRESS!

Understanding these real world stress factors and honestly empathizing with the audience differentiates the true professional from the ‘hired man or woman,’ for whom the fee and their ego are the primary drivers of their speaking career. Certainly content delivery — providing value in terms of insights and information which the audience can use to increase their own personal as well as career performance and value, is critical to every keynote. But there is more to professional speaking that just excellent content.

Empathy Requires Investing Time to Understand the Audience

When a speaker truly ‘loves their audience’ they take the time to understand where their audience is coming from and what are their listeners needs. This goes beyond speaking to their ‘general’ business needs. During the heart of the Great Recession, I had the privilege of addressing two large audiences a few days apart, both comprised of retail store owners in the floor coverings business. As part of my preparation, I visited several of their members’ stores and spoke with the owners as well as a day at the parent organization’s corporate offices.

I came away understanding that these people were hurting! Hurting badly! Nearly a quarter of their group had gone out of business during the preceding several years and many of the others were literally hanging on by a shoestring, praying for an economic turnaround miracle. I made a point of having breakfast with each group the mornings of my keynotes. Typically these types of annual industry meetings of business owners who have known each other for years are ‘fun’ affairs, with much laughter and joking. Not these two groups. They were ‘bruised and bleeding!’ And SCARED of what the future held!

The content I provided in my keynote was similar to what I would have typically provided, ‘How to Use Strategic Innovation to Grow Your Business!’ But the way I presented was much different.

This group desperately needed my content on how to grow their businesses, but they couldn’t hear it until they realized that I understood and identified with the pain they had been experiencing during the prior several years. They had to ‘know’ that I was there because I really wanted to help them, not because they were my ‘meal ticket.’ When they understood that I was truly for them, then they began to listen.

Keynote Speaker, Forget Yourself, It’s All About YourAudience!

As a professional keynote speaker, loving your audience means that as I walk up the stage stairs, I forget about myself. My sole focus is the audience. Professional speaking is NOT about the keynote speaker! It’s about the audience! Is Efficiency

by John Di Frances

If enjoyed reading or listening to this blog post on the value of Strategic Open Innovation, use the icons below to share it with others who may benefit from it. (Colleagues, friends, enemies, countrymen…)

Strategy & Open Innovation Keynote Speaker

Strategic Innovation Consultant StrategicInnovation.Consulting

Office: 262.278.6250 / Mobile: 262.844.0605


Employing Strategy + Open Innovation for Accelerating Profitable Growth

Strategy + Open Innovation

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Top CEO’s recognize that excellent strategies resulting from effective strategic planning together with the aggressive pursuit of open innovation are important to the growth and future of their business. However, they do not always fully grasp the close correlation between these two critical aspects of business.

Strategy + Open Innovation Business Keynote Speaker

As a business consultant and keynote speaker who focuses on Strategic Innovation, it is my desire to raise senior executive’s awareness of the synergistic power of integrating these two distinct, but related disciplines. Although each is in itself a powerful business driver, together it is possible to achieve exponential results through the combination of strategy + open innovation.

Just as lighter fluid acts as an accelerator to fire, open innovation can provide an accelerating dynamic to corporate strategy and vice versa. Rather than viewing these two crucial business activities as separate silos, understanding the interrelationship will positively transform both their performance as well as the results that ensue.

Strategy and open innovation are really two sides of the same coin. Innovation Empowers Strategy and Strategy Directs Innovation. Sounds circular? That’s because it is circular. The two activities should feed each other in one continuous loop.

When I say that innovation empowers strategy I am referring to the fact that through open innovation new strategic opportunities are revealed to the organization. Innovation is by definition: “Change that creates a new dimension of highly beneficial performance.” It is these new dimensions of beneficial performance that open the way for new strategies. For example, if a particular innovation initiative results in a new product or your company’s entry into a new marketplace, these clearly require the development of new strategies in order to properly implement.

Likewise, it is the organization’s strategic plan which determines the direction in which you’re people will focus their innovation efforts. This prevents you’re people from wasting valuable resources on merely creative ideas which hold no real potential for moving the organization forward. Creativity is wonderful, but unless it is actively directed toward achieving the desired strategic outcomes of the business, namely sustainable growth and profitability, it simply dilutes productive efforts.

Some years ago, the Vice President of Manufacturing for a company that produced bio-feedstocks for other research companies requested my assistance. Their R&D budget amounted to more than one half of the company’s total operating expenditures. The vice president’s primary concern was that although the company was highly profitable, the vast majority of their revenue resulted from legacy products which would soon lose patent protection. Their pipeline of new products was full, unfortunately they had been unable to successfully commercialize any new products coming out of R&D for several years.

It was clear that the researchers were very intelligent and actively pursuing new breakthrough products. However, it soon became clear to me that they were doing so within their own silos. Each PhD researcher had total autonomy as to what potential products their team conducted research on. Also, this was done without any collaboration with either the marketing department or manufacturing. The steady stream of new products which emerged from the pipeline during the prior several years either had no viable market or we’re discovered to be extremely difficult to scale from test tube and beaker into commercial production. This company represented the classic example of wonderfully creative and innovative R&D which was literally destroying the company’s future.

In stark contrast, meaningful R&D and in fact all innovation initiatives across the entire organization should have the clear objective of creating highly beneficial ‘new’ value. It is the active, continuous loop of open innovation and strategy which can result in the synergistic integration of the two activities, thereby maximizing the benefit to the company.

Synergistic Integration of Strategy + Open Innovation Objective

Establishing the synergistic integration of strategy and open innovation should be a clear and critical objective for all employees to pursue. Only in this way will the company be assured of obtaining the optimal benefit from the resources employed. This is not a difficult task, however, it does require the active and sustained leadership of the executive team in both encouraging and enforcing this objective.

by John Di Frances

If enjoyed reading or listening to this blog post on the value of Strategic Open Innovation, use the icons below to share it with others who may benefit from it. (Colleagues, friends, enemies, countrymen…)

Strategy & Open Innovation Keynote Speaker

Strategic Innovation Consultant StrategicInnovation.Consulting

Office: 262.278.6250 / Mobile: 262.844.0605