What makes a great conference speaker?

04 Apr 2018

Sue Bull, IOSH’s Conference Producer, looks at what makes a great speaker and picks out her top ten from the events she’s been to

I’ve been working in CPD and events for almost 18 years and during this time I’ve seen a huge variety of conference presentations. 

I know that choosing the right speaker for a conference can make or break the event. Listening to a brilliant speaker deliver a relevant message that teaches you something new is a real pleasure.

So, who over the past 18 years have stood out for me and are in my top ten speaker list? Some of them you will have heard of I’m sure, but others probably not. So, in no particular order, here they are:

  • Sir John Jones is one of the most straight talking, entertaining, inspiring speakers who has the ability to inspire others with his knowledge, passion and enthusiasm.
  • Fadumo Dayib always gives a remarkable, powerful, real life story without slides. She speaks about overcoming adversity and leaves the audience feeling truly inspired and positive.
  • Geoff MacDonald is an amazing speaker who speaks with humility, humour and from personal experience. He is a powerful and impactful speaker who really makes a difference for audiences.
  • Bonita Norris is a humorous, articulate and motivating speaker who is able to captivate audiences with her amazing story told alongside some breathtaking images.
  • Lord Robert Winston is able to explain the most complex science in such a compelling way so the whole audience, whether they have a science background or not, can easily understand.
  • Margaret Heffernan presents what she is saying rarely using slides. She really engages with her audiences and is extremely expressive which both catches and keeps their attention.
  • Richard Gerver is skilled in tailor-making every presentation for his audience and really cares about the impact he will have. He is thought provoking, entertaining and energetic and ensures his audiences leave thinking differently.
  • Zainab Salbi tells her personal journey in an extremely powerful and emotional way; audiences often say she touches their hearts. She is incredibly humble and able to get the audience to empathise with her.
  • John Schollar and John Grainger are both now retired, but they were a fantastic ‘double act’ who were truly excited by their subject matter and could have an audience in fits of laughter whilst learning so much.
  • Debra Searle speaks with a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm and comes across as being wholly authentic and genuine. She shares practical strategies with her audiences from her own experiences.

So, do you have some of the speaker qualities I’ve described? Can you engage and inspire people and have an interesting story to tell?

If so, then get involved in IOSH 2018 by leading a track session. We have four great tracks and are looking for great speakers to lead them. The tracks are:

Track A - Enhancing your professional skills

Track B - Health, wellbeing and workplace performance

Track C - Effective health and safety management

Track D – The changing world of work

The call for track proposals are now open so visit www.ioshconference.com/get-involved-run-a-track for more information.

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