Clare Forestier is an Event Host and the Owner of Speak Up Event Hosting and Training. Clare speaks to The Industry Leaders about the challenges she's faced in her career and why the digitisation of the Events industry has her excited.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I worked for more than 20 years as a broadcast journalist, producer, reporter and presenter on radio and TV. I worked as a freelancer to fit around family and a husband who had to move a lot for his career. I started doing media and presentation training to add more strings to my bow and realised that I knew a lot about audiences and how to keep them engaged. Moving into hosting business events was a natural progression.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I look after the audience at an event, being the constant warm, energetic voice in their ear, keeping them engaged and involved and clear on what's happening.
My other role is to keep the client paying for the event happy. This means being part of the team delivering their event goals, ensuring their clients and contributors have a positive and exciting experience of their brand.
I moderate high-level executive conversations, facilitating the discussion to get everyone involved and sharing information. I help keep the energy high throughout, matching styles with the event's theme, keeping the ebb and flow high and engaging.
I manage timekeeping, introductions, Q & A sessions etc., working closely with the event organisers, helping in the run-up to the event with speaker training, scripting and support.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I have to say I'm excited by what I see as a real opportunity for change and improvement as we become so much more digital in the events industry.
I think the pandemic has forced digital disruption onto the industry, which is not before time!
Before Covid, it was often impossible to get mobile coverage at events, let alone a hybrid audience involved.
Now we will be trying to perfect the experience for everyone involved, which will make all events better all round. It means a lot of learning new skills and adding plenty of new practice and education, but it's worth it!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Treat EVERYONE as you'd like to be treated regardless of their job or rank - in other words, everyone you're rude to on your way up will remember you on your way down!
What's the best way to support aspiring leaders in your field?
I get a real sense of achievement when I can connect with people and be useful.
In that sense, I don't think of it as really 'helping aspiring leaders' because I am always happy to help other business owners and aspiring events people - basically anyone who asks politely - and it's in my gift to help!
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and follow people in events to find out what everyone's chatting about. I enjoy hosting and attending virtual events about events too, when I find I really get the nitty-gritty on all that's happening.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
As a journalist, I dealt with terrifying editors demanding the impossible and some pretty hairy reporting situations. However, my worst experience in events was last year, and I still get the sweats thinking about it!
I accepted work with an event organiser providing a studio based online event for a major client. I wrongly believed the organiser had the experience and facilities to make it happen.
The event was ill-thought-out, poorly equipped and chaotic, making it pretty hard to deliver a high-quality service for the client. Imagine live-hosting an event with no autocue, no headphone feedback, a completely unfit-for-purpose digital platform and no ability to see the output!
Of course, the organiser paid very late and showed no interest in engaging in feedback. BUT it taught me a lot, and I'm now very fussy about who I work with!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I'd have to be legally allowed to keep it as otherwise the guilt would eat me alive! But assuming it is, I'd give a whopping donation to the One25 charity in Bristol, where I'm a volunteer - it helps some of the city's most marginalised women. I'd also pay off my mortgage, buy a holiday cottage on the Cornish coast, and help friends and family enjoy an easier life.
This was a fun question; I feel incredibly generous now without spending so much as a penny!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I like to either go to a hot yoga class or lie on the sofa with a dry martini and posh dark chocolate, watching a sci-fi disaster movie.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I really hope that the changes caused by the pandemic will have a lasting effect on the events industry.
I am acutely aware of the tragedy it has caused, with many jobs lost and businesses closed, but I also know that things inside events need to change. There was a lot of laziness about the way things were done.
People need to embrace the opportunities for event design and really get the standard raised so that events deliver a lot more quality. This means that all attendees will get an individual and great experience.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I'm currently enjoying reading Spoon-Fed by Dr Tim Spector.
It's about misinformation in the nutritional advice we get from doctors and the nutrition and diet industries. Obviously, it's nothing to do with events, but it's mind-blowing!
How should people connect with you?
I'm a major LinkedIn fan, so you can find me here https://www.linkedin.com/in/clareforestier or message me via my website https://www.clareforestier.com.
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