Jamie Andrew is the Scottish mountaineer who had his hands and feet amputated following a horrific accident in the Alps. Incredibly, Jamie has continued his mountaineering career and has completed some amazing ascents around the world, raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity along the way.
Jamie is a gifted speaker with a hugely uplifting and motivational story which provides a meaningful and long lasting boost for staff. His messages of coping with change and hard times, making the most of life, and always seeing the positive have helped countless businesses in their drive to be the best in their field.
In this guest blog, Jamie discusses how external speakers can use their personal experiences to deliver key conference and business messages and truly inspire an audience.
When I first started telling my story to audiences more than ten years ago, I feared that I would be dismissed with words along the lines of, “Very interesting story, but that really has nothing to do with insurance / finance / marketing / sales / business of any kind.”
Ten years down the line and several hundred presentations later, I haven’t received that kind of criticism even once. In fact the feedback I receive above all is that people are genuinely delighted to spend some time focusing on issues other than their day-to-day business.
I have spoken to a huge array of different audiences, from primary schools to business schools, from Chinese bankers to American car sales people, from oil traders to chiropodists, and it seems to me that everyone is capable of drawing something personal from the experience of hearing a first hand account of something incredible.
That’s all very well, I can hear the CEO saying, but do I really want my employees wasting precious conference time listening to some adventurous tales of derring-do, when they should be listening to me setting out the targets for the next quarter? And is it worth me wasting my precious budget on such frivolities?
Well, for managers and conference organisers, engaging a good external speaker is perhaps the best way of actually capturing the attention of those employees, of shaking them out of their well worn, somnambulant ruts and introducing a bit of fresh perspective to the proceedings. We all know how easy it is for businesses and departments to become so inward facing that they completely lose touch with the outside world. Conferences are the ideal opportunities to reconnect with that outside world. Indeed many of the most successful conferences are those that contain no internal business agenda items whatsoever. Employees return to their desks refreshed, invigorated and ready to do things a little bit differently.
And so what about those individual employees? What can they expect to learn from an external speaker? Well, to take my story as an example, I speak about my passion for mountaineering, my accident and the subsequent amputation of my hands and feet, then how I gradually rebuilt my life and against all odds returned to climb in the mountains that I love so much.
But the messages that come out of this unusual story are ones that we can all apply to our everyday lives, both business and personal. Messages such as how to focus the mind in order to find the positive in an apparently hopeless situation, how to set targets and to use the skills of others in order to achieve common goals. Then how to break down a seemingly insurmountable obstacle so that step-by-step you can ultimately achieve your dreams.
And what’s more, not a flip chart or a bullet point in sight!