From Campsites to Cruise Ships – Know Your Audience…

Ice-Axes

Mountaineering and Speaking come together in many different ways.  Usually we climb mountains, have adventures, then go and speak about them.  We write books, sign photos and give media interviews, but the strangest combinations can exist…

During the last 15 years of my adventures, I’ve delivered keynotes to schools and businesses across the UK and Europe.  They tend to be given in a classroom, meeting room or lecture theatre.  The outdoors provides some stunning natural venues too, but I’m now moving into a completely different world.  I’ve been invited to speak on cruise ships.  “But Nigel, you’re a mountaineer and ships are at seas level..!” I hear you cry.  Well, even I can’t change the laws of physics and yes, ships are defiantly at sea level.

This is where you have to separate your Mountaineering from your Speaking.  When you work in both disciplines, you need to work with the conditions, environment and audience at hand.  How you present to an audience of mountaineers will be very different to a business audience, but the ethics and outcomes are the same.  You need to be professional, entertaining and deliver your message, but the latter is where the two really go their own way.  A mountaineering audience want interesting stories, beautiful pictures and high drama as they are there to be entertained.  Business requires all those and more as they will be looking for the why’s, how’s, the lessons learned and how they relate to business.  Though some light heartedness helps, they are not there for pure enjoyment.

So lets move forward to the cruise business.  I’m hardy going to be confronted with an audience of mountaineers or business people, although both may exist.  Here you need to entertain, inform and excite your audience, without the use of acronyms, buzzwords and technical language.  Looking into the crowd will tell you whether to speak in metric or imperial measurement (as will the country of your work), but i always work with measurements people will know well, such as a rucksack the weight of a child or a peak as tall as ten lengths of the ship.  Putting things into simple terms works best.  A cruise audience will be international and english may to be their first language, so keep pace, but don’t go too fast.

After most events the usual networking or book signing commences and then you run for the hills, but on ship you’re always available and remember this – you’re not just representing yourself, but also the cruise line brand.  Branding is something many cast aside as unimportant, but they are very wrong.  If you want to build successful relationships then branding is everything.  Talking about relationships…

More and more, the modern world sees an increase the change of speed and of action.  Decisions require instant answers, news requires instant reporting and life requires instant updates.  So what..? I hear you cry.  Life has taught me that some things can’t come in an instant.  Relationships take time.  Though love at first sight exists, many relationships need careful nurturing to become strong and lasting…

Before you all think I’m going soft, what I mean is that many of the companies, organisations and schools that I work with don’t just pick me from the internet and say ‘come and speak’.  They come from referrals and contacts that already know me well. This means that unlike celebrity TV shows, it takes time to become known in your field.  Frostbite struck me overnight, but I’m known better for  my rebirth, rebuilding and resilience.  My injuries were only the start of a long and continuing journey.  However, It’s rarely a steady path…

It’s an unfortunate fact that many people think fame instant.  The barrage of celebrity style TV shows assault the eyes every evening, quickly raising hopes and then dashing them in minutes.  The old phrase ‘easy come, easy go’ comes very much to mind.  The world of speaking is strewn with the remains of people seeking instant fame and riches.  A few succeed, but many melt away into the ether, never to be heard of again.  Patience and hard work are what you need.

I was a quiet child and my business has remained quiet.  No, I don’t mean I have nothing to do and no gigs, but I’m not a chest beating look at me type.  You know them, bleached white teeth, tanned skin, sharp suits and (usually) loud voices (never confuse this with charisma).  I abhor the need to shout about yourself, feeling much happier to go my own way and live my own life.  I’ve been lucky enough to speak with people such as Pete Mosley who ‘Shouts Quietly’ and share his thoughts on life and business.

Recognition often comes from your deeds and not your words.  Proving what you do, rather than talking about them is a subject I have shared with many pupils in education.  My associations with organisations such as Terra Nova Equipment, Buxton Mountain Rescue Team and The Mountain Heritage Trust have come from years of working together.  I’m delighted that such relationships have worked well for all of us, and that’s something vitally important.  Relationships work both ways.

Brand well, build solid, resilient relationships and speak from your experiences and you’ll go a long way in this world…

(picture courtesy of the Nottingham Post/Mark Fear)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *