Insights as NSA President

Posted by Kristin Arnold on October 26, 2011

Kristin Arnold

It’s been a few months since I handed over the gavel of the National Speakers Association.  Oddly enough, most people expected me to go through PPD – post-presidential depression – a second cousin to post-partum depression.  I keep waiting for the funk to set in, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  I’m just so excited about reconnecting with clients and re-engaging into the business!

Upon reflection, I thought I would share a few of my “insights” while serving as NSA President for the past year.

  1. Never check email after dinner or 7pm, whichever comes first.  Even the slightest nuance, idea, or member concern will rattle around in your head throughout the night.
  2. It’s the People.  I am often asked, “What’s the best part of being president? Hands down, it’s the people I have met.  Learning from and leaning on people who have been there before you, who are going through the same trials and tribulations, and helping those who are traveling the road you just traveled.
  3. Experience Matters.  I was chatting with a speaker who said his area of expertise was on leadership.  I innocently asked, “So what have you led?” and he told me it was none of my business.  I then discovered he had never managed nor led any organization!  Nothing beats experience when talking about your area of expertise.  Some call it practice what you preach.  I call it “eat your own dog food.”  If you talk about it, you should not only practice those same principles on and off the platform, but it should be so ingrained in your MO, your DNA, or tattooed on your rear end like one of my clients who manages assets.  You think I’m kidding, she actually got a tattoo on her ass…ets!  And I went and got myself a heap of experience at NSA when it comes to strategic planning, facilitating our board meetings and building a team!
  4. We are living in the Era of Engagement.  People want to contribute – to provide input, to comment on what’s happening in their world.  As professional speakers, the more we can ask for the audience’s contributions and comments up front, the better we can create an event that really connects with our audiences – and that they will want to keep the conversation flowing long after the presentation through blogs, listservs and discussion groups. Social networking is all about starting and keeping communities connected and the conversation flowing.  We haven’t even begun to tap into the possibilities to connect with our clients, prospects, and with the entire world.
  5. Keep It Small, Focused and F2F.  So here’s the curious thing.  When 9/11 hit in 2001 and then when the global economy crashed and burned in 2008, the prognosis for the meetings industry was well, not so great.   Theoretically, all of the meetings were going to shift to the virtual world.  But that has NOT the case.  What has happened is a global trend toward fewer meetings, smaller meetings and with the content more tightly focused.  The value on these face-to-face meetings has become much higher as people are investing their time specifically in order to meet face to face.  Meetings are also becoming smaller in number of attendees physically present, with an extended reach beyond the four walls of the meeting.  These hybrid meetings include streaming video and content discussions running at the same time as the actual event so people outside the room can participate in real time.
  6. The world is indeed flat.  We are living in a global economy.  NSA-US is  the world’s largest and oldest association dedicated to the art and business of professional speaking.  It was a pleasure to travel around the nation and the world representing the NSA-US – and seeing just how much we have in common..
  7. Leadership is not about immediate gratification.  Especially with a volunteer association steeped in tradition, suffice it to say that you won’t see immediate results.  It is the long term progress to our strategic plan that keeps us focused and motivated, providing even greater value to our members.

I am thrilled with the progress NSA continues to make on behalf of our members, and I will hold dear the memories, experiences, and relationships with my speaker buddies.  And, I am equally excited to get back to “work”!

I thank you for the tremendous opportunity to serve you and represent you throughout the United States as and world.  See you in Anaheim soon!




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