live engagement

Four Ways to Harness Live Engagement to Build Your Personal and Public Brand

By Scott Cullather and Kristina McCoobery

When we launched our agency, INVNT in 2008 we knew we wanted to create engaging live experiences rather than pedantic presentations. We were lucky that two of our very first clients not only joined us for the ride, but we formed a unique partnership whereby they trusted us to take their events to new heights. This was made possible because like us, they believed in the power of live engagement.

This likeminded approach forged the way for powerful bonds which enabled us to not only deliver far greater results for our clients, but learn some essential leadership traits from them in the process.

Fred DeLuca, the co-founder and former CEO of Subway taught us about the power of emotional leadership, and Indra Nooyi, the former chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo taught us how to identify and harness the profound intersection of the personal and the public brand.

Both of these approaches highlighted that irrespective of your sector, when it comes to leading and growing a successful organization, skillful live engagement—whether it’s a five-person meeting or 5,000 attendee conference—is vital.

Here are four tactics to adopt when communicating with your key audiences, from employees and colleagues to clients, consumers and vendors:

  1. Give ‘em the center cut. Craft the messaging around the selling points. Live engagement demands focus: remember, those are savvy, flesh and blood actual human beings in the audience, and they know when they’re being sold to. So be concise and mindful of the true dimensions of the message you’re trying to get across.
  2. Be respectful of their time. Your audience is distracted—even as you’re wowing them with a strategically crafted message, they’re being bombarded by (literally) thousands of competing ones. Yours needs to be quick and to the point.
  3. Know your audience. When engaging a seasoned, tenured audience, your live engagement strategy has got to pass the eye-roll test. What might land squarely on-target for a younger audience may be entirely off-key for the top eight hundred people at a Fortune 100 company. A senior team preparing a product launch at a big pharma company, let’s say, has already been to a score of preparatory meetings; don’t waste their time with what they already know (and it’s your job to find out exactly what that is beforehand). Similarly, a CEO’s leadership meeting has that executive’s credibility on the line. In cases like these, achieving resonance is essential.
  4. The F**k-It Factor. And yet… Perhaps as important as the eye-roll test, is the gut-check. Yes, we can slice it and dice it a hundred ways, or count on an algorithm, but sometimes with live engagement, you’ve just got to go with your gut and reach for that ineffable, cosmic kind of fire that only you can see with your third eye.

So, we leave you with two key takeaways here. Firstly, your clients come to you for your insight, knowledge, and expertise, but don’t forget—quite often the most fruitful partnerships are those where you become a trusted extension of their team. The knowledge sharing becomes a two-way street, with both parties reaping the rewards of this close working relationship. Secondly, live engagement, when conducted skillfully, can help you build both your brand as an entrepreneur and business leader, and that of your organization’s in both positive and impactful ways. We encourage you to give it a go!

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