President’s Message – September 2017

Are the four ‘Es’ in CAPS competencies enough?

During Labour Day weekend while many CAPS members were having an experience with their families, by either getting their children ready to go back to school or taking the last long weekend of the summer to relax, sixteen of us were having a very different experience. We congregated at Toni Newman’s, HoF, cottage for the Multi-year mastermind weekend. Toni and Nabil Doss graciously offered to facilitate a weekend of collaboration.

This event was a ‘thank you’ to the over sixty CAPS members who had demonstrated their belief (#webelieve) and care (#CAPScares) for this association by renewing their membership for a three or five year term. By coming together as one (#weareone), we were able to learn from each other, share business insights, grow as people and celebrate belonging to this great community.

After the first day of masterminding in various group sizes, we came together on the second day as one large group to answer questions. I decided to get the ball rolling. The answer to my question took three hours.

The question: “What current speaking trends in the industry will or should have the biggest impact on our businesses?”

Although I would like to take the credit for this thought-provoking question, it was the same issue I had to prepare for as a panelist at the NSA Influence 2017 convention – as part of the International Day session.

In preparing for the panel, I reached out to some members to garner their perspective. Big thanks to all, especially Michael Kerr, CSP, HoF for the extensive list.

Member and bureau Insights included:

  • More conventions coming to Canada (due to world-wide political climate)
  • Topics that include: innovation, change, trends and the future
  • Asking more from speakers (keynote and breakout, speak for 90 minutes, video included in fee, keynote then facilitate a panel)
  • Short lead times
  • Slightly more (but not as much as you think), request for virtual presentations.
  • Bureaus are receiving requests for top keynoters to speak for free
  • Associations are joining forces – fewer associations to speak to in the future.
  • Clients like working with speakers with multi solutions
  • More facilitative style presentations (audiences want more interaction.)

Sarah Michel, CSP, (NSA USA) conducted extensive research with Meeting Planners and shared it at the International Day session at Influence 2017. Sarah said speakers’ biggest competitors are not celebrities, but subject-matter experts.

So what is the difference between subject-matter experts and “experts who speak.” Well, our CAPS competencies:

  • Expertise
  • Ethics
  • Enterprise
  • Eloquence

To learn more visit:

Arguably, a subject-matter expert may have a few of these competencies, but not all of them. What they won’t have is the missing ‘E’ – EXPERIENCE. Although having it helps with expertise, I’m referring to creating an audience EXPERIENCE.

No matter who was asked the question, our members, expert at the International Day session, or multi-year mastermind participants, everyone agreed. If we want to continue to differentiate ourselves to our clients, we not only need to be experts, eloquent, ethical and enterprising, we need to create an EXPERIENCE for our audiences.


According to Sarah Michel’s, CSP, International meeting planner research, it is believed by 2020 fifty percent of employees will be working from home. As a result:

  • More people will be going to meetings
  • People will be starving for face-to-face interaction

As speakers we need to:

  • Add networking opportunities in our talks –increase speaker memorability
  • Create authentic experiences for audiences
  • Be aware audiences are tired of being “pitched slapped.”
  • Be aware people just want authentic speak, and they will forgive everything else

With this new trend, MPI International has set a goal to, “Stop planning meetings and start creating experiences.”

As professional speakers, we have an opportunity. We can propose innovative ways within our talks on how to create an experience while ensuring we are also engaging, current, relevant, and masters on the platform.

More meeting planners are seeking speakers who can create an experience that elevate conversation and transform behavior.

To create your Experience, some suggestions:

  • Design a creative room set-up
  • Facilitate conversation with the audience
  • Incorporate a panel within a talk
  • Gather people in meaningful pods
  • Conduct a unique activity where the audience comes to their conclusions (Metaphor or Experience training)
  • Involve the audience in your research
  • Use a story to connect the audience to their own experience
  • Use your delivery of the story to ensure it connects emotionally
  • Use jolt exercises (Visit for suggestions)
  • Unpack an idea through in-the-moment coaching
  • Use any activity or story that fosters the unexpected, and provokes conversation.

Staying after you speak can also further enhance the audience experience, according to MPI international.

Sarah summarizes why we should include EXPERIENCES best:  “People don’t need more information, but to make sense of the information they are receiving.”

What experience could you incorporate in your training, facilitation, coaching, or keynotes that will catapult you from another expert who speaks, to an agent of change who transforms audiences through experiences?

Suzanne F. Stevens, CSP
2017 CAPS National President
Canadian Association of Professional Speakers

Shout out to Ron Tsang, a two-year member to CAPs, who saw Experience as the 5th E.