6 Ways for CEOs to Raise Visibility at Events: The Art of Entertaining

Matthew Bird |

CEOs have many responsibilities in their day-to-day leadership role. But, it takes a lot more to lead a company than just the ability to operate the business; you must inspire your community. And when I say ‘community’ I mean your clients, customers, investors, and your corporation as a whole.

Reverend Theodore Hesburgh coined in best when he said:

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

There is a true gift to being in a position of leadership such as a CEO. Good CEOs understand that they must be articulate, credible, and trustworthy. But when you put a CEO in the room to meet with guests and potential clients their main goal should be not only to gain or retain trust, but tell the story about the companies forward moving vision, a vision that will inspire your audience and customers — and that in turn they will remember and share with other people - in a discrete way.

When CEOs hold or attend an event their presence should be known; they need to possess the ability to interact with other guests, to talk to them, show interest, and ask questions and about them. They are here to meet with you and to be inspired.

Last year, I attended a special event with Arianna Huffington where she hosted the Book Lunch at her Manhattan home for Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel’s "Zero to One." The moment you walked through the door, Arianna Huffington greeted everyone and i mean everyone, one-by-one, as they entered through the elevator into her flat and made sure they had a glass of champagne and food coming their way. She was graceful, gracious, and interested in everyone in the room. I’ve never quite seen someone work the room so well and in the three hours I was there, she found her way to me twice. To me she was the perfect host and made me feel special. I think the whole room did – all 100 of us.

Matthew Bird and Arianna Huffington

Why is CEO Appearances Important?

There are two main reasons why CEOs should host corporate events and coordinate major PR events The first is to attract new clients and keep existing ones happy. The second is to elevate brand visibility and communicate new visions for the future. Inspiration is important in any relationship; it takes commitment and consistency and all are vitally important to keep your business growing from strength to strength. Entertaining new or existing clients is a proven method of doing business and increasing sales. Adding an extra dimension to these networking events through personal appearances, sharing stories, and inspiring the crowd, can help to not only build a lasting memory of the event, but also of you the host, the leader of the company. Remember passion starts and flows from the top down- the CEO should be an inspiration to his circle of influence.

Here are my top 6 tips to keep in mind when preparing for your next company event.

1. Show Your Guests Appreciation

Don’t be afraid to let your guests know how much you appreciate their attendance, their loyalty to your brand, and that you wish to continue working with them. Likewise, entertaining new and prospective customers will enable you naturally to forge fresh new working relationships with them and allow you to discover exactly what they require from you in an informal and relaxed way without the pressure of the work environment.

2. Make All Your Guests Feel Important

Making your guests feel important through a networking event is a fantastic way of thanking them for their commitment or interest to your brand. People love to feel important and looked after, and a night out with their colleagues and peers is a great way for everyone to show them and help them feel part of your corporate culture. It's such a simple concept, but so important to break down the work walls and helps humanize you. It’s true when they say “that people will forget what you said, but never forget how you made them feel.” It’s as simple as a question like, "How is your family?" or "Tell me what you do exactly?" or “How was your trip to Australia?” If you can have fun interacting on a social level with clients, investors, and employees, then doesn’t it stands to reason that you will forge stronger working relationships with each other when back in a work environment.

Clients will remain loyal to companies that treat them well. A strong healthy interaction that is unique and different will ensure that your clients feel they are an integral part of your and you a part of their organization.

3. Entertain as Much as You Inform

When speaking at your events the way you entertain a crowd can have a more profound effect on their experience than speeches that lecture or persuade. This is simply because entertaining speeches are delivered at social events that give you the opportunity to integrate yourself with your audience around you. This often results in stronger relationships, new contacts, and other business opportunities. So don’t be afraid to show your sense of humor and let the crowd laugh along with you {or at you}.

4. Share Real Stories

Any time you add a personal story, you get people's attention. Personal stories are more compelling than they are facts and figures. A personal story is something that happened to you, with your friends, peers, or family. Not stories about your successes, but stories about failures, fumbles, interceptions, or stuff that makes you real that the people you’re entertaining can walk away feeling like they know you a little better than just your position and accomplishments. The time you helped change a strangers tire and now they work with you. The time you got lost and ended up in a bar and met someone who ended up being your future wife. The time you missed the game winning shot in high school.

5. Demonstrate Your Passion, Vision and Commitment to the Brand

What makes you passionate about your brand? Talk about how far you would go and what you do to lead your company to milestones. Passion is contagious, and once articulated with clarity, a clear vision, energy and focus it inspires other to look inside and do the same. So ask yourself again; how far would you go and what would you do for your passion? Then share this with the group. People are naturally drawn and trust more easily to people who care, who shows commitment, and who have enthusiasm for their work and life.

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood . . . Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”

Daniel Burnham, American architect (1846 – 1912)

6. Inspire/Talk About the Future

As the leader in the company it is your responsibility to represent your company and authentically deliver your corporate message and strategy. If you want your company to stay relevant and current, then you must be responsible for inspiring others by looking into the future. Steve Jobs, although sometimes extremely awkward with his presentations skills, knew how to move the needle forward. He wasn’t afraid to be a visionary, continually looking at expanding and creating new consumer products even at the expense of his current inventory. I truly believe that innovation can be a key differentiator between market luminaries and their rivals. So don’t be afraid to look far into the future, see what needs to be done and try and move your company there. The world needs visionaries not soldiers. But make no mistake that the most successful CEOs are marketers at heart!

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer


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