Encouraging interaction and discussion on Networking for Success at Office* 2018

Q&A with guest speaker Susan Heaton-Wright

As an ex international opera singer and public speaker Susan is no stranger to using her voice. After having a family, she has used her bountiful experience to build her business, Executive Voice, to help other people find theirs, in her role as a performance and impact trainer.

In this role Susan spends her time coaching people from all areas of business to make an impact when they speak, whether that’s in meetings, in the media in education and beyond.

Live polling in workshop sessionSusan recently appeared at Office* as a guest speaker, discussing ‘Networking for Success’. Susan’s speaking style is naturally engaging, and she chose to use Vevox to encourage interaction throughout her session with live-polling. We caught up with her after the show to find out what she thought:

What prompted you to speak at Office* this year?

Having spoken at Office* 2 years ago and reconnecting with the CEO of Mash Media at an event, I decided it was an opportunity to do something different and also widen my experience.

When I made the career change from opera singing I met a lot of people from the corporate world who would ask me, “What are your top tips for getting people to listen, or what can I do to seem more confident and make people pay attention,” so I started coaching people and things took off from there. I wanted to bring my knowledge and experience to Office* and give EA’s and office managers some of my tips to help them when they’re networking. 

What did you hope that attendees would gain from your session?

I wanted to get across that networking can be of great benefit. When networking, its really important to have a strategy, so I wanted the delegates to take away 3 or 4 questions to ask people, to help them feel confident to start a conversation and have a tactic for how to approach people who are already in conversation, which can be intimidating.

It’s also vital to hone listening skills, as the art of conversation is a two-way street. The skills and techniques that I teach that can be used in many situations that people in these EA and PA roles find themselves in. A small tip that seems simple enough can be transformational for someone.

Why did you choose to use Vevox for your session?

The way we communicate is different now, we all have shorter attention spans. As a speaker you need to find different ways of maintaining connection. Using an engagement app and loots such as live-polling helps to keep things interesting and change the mood, plus I also really enjoy trying out new technology.

Despite the awful weather, everyone was really engaged throughout the session and wanted to get the most from it. My delivery style is energetic, so having delegates who are keen and get involved makes running sessions like that a real pleasure.

How did you think an engagement app would enhance your session?

I felt that given the topic, it would enhance the experience for the delegates as we could immediately discuss the outcomes of the polls that I ran as we went along. When you’re working with any kind of audience, whether its one-on-one or at a conference, it’s important to understand them so you can engage with them effectively. 

How did you find using Vevox during your session?

Like many speakers, I chose to use Microsoft PowerPoint for presenting my content. Vevox has a PowerPoint add-in so my polls were fully integrated into my slides, so I didn’t need to switch between software and the focus remained on my presentation. 

Did any of the polls throw up any surprises or interesting answers?

Do you know, there were no surprises! When you run these sessions you never know, someone may share an interesting experience. This was my first experience of using live polling in one of my sessions and I can see how you could use the insights from the responses to provide additional value to the delegates.

As the polling is anonymous you can’t see who has provided a different or even controversial answer, but it allows you the chance to address it by giving some general advice and guidance, you can still help somebody without singling them out. Having the poll results on screen is really powerful as the delegates can see how many others may also share the same opinions or answers as their own. 

Vevox being used in comms training workshop
What did you like most about using Vevox?

Using Vevox was easy for the delegates and the poll results were instant and this had an immediate impact. From a speaker’s point of view having this level of interaction and connection using live-polling with the audience makes a huge difference. I was great to be using technology that really added something extra rather than just using technology for the sake of it.

What do you think the audience liked?

I think the visual poll results were impressive. It allowed the delegates to see that their thoughts and opinions mattered and contributed to the session.

Would you recommend using Vevox to others?

Absolutely, I already have future sessions in mind that are in a slightly more formal setting where I can see Vevox being the perfect tool to use. Having used Vevox I’ve got some inspiration for how I can adjust my workshops to include it. I’m a member of a speaking group and I’ve already suggested Vevox as a way for others to enhance the audience experience for their sessions. 

Do you have any tips for others who might consider using an engagement app?

Firstly, make sure you speak to the software provider and get fully acquainted with all the features and decide which you want to use, you don’t always have to use all the features. Secondly, think about your topic and how you could structure your session to include an engagement tool to enhance the experience and keep people in the moment.

What was your main takeaway?

I work with a lot of people in the corporate world and am now really encouraging them to use engagement technology so help make the drier topics more palatable and increase interaction. It’s also important to have the option of anonymity, as this allows people to ask questions they might not normally ask by removing the barrier of anxiety. Using Vevox allows people like my clients to engage in a new way and helps corporate communication to be more digestible.   

Considering using an engagement app at your next conference, seminar or speaker session? Get in touch


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