Mission Makers Podcast | London | UK
GAIA LAMPERTI, KAMRAN KHAN
& FARAH NANJI
THE ART OF SPEAKING
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At 2,500m high up in the Swiss mountains of Davos, our moderation team set up a base camp for 7 months to curate over 30 panels that saw the likes of Deepak Chopra, Nik Gowing (BBC), Dr.Sian Proctor (Inspiration4 Astronaut) and 50 other exceptional speakers join a series of disruptive talks at the Lan Space Summit, which took place as a satellite event alongside the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2022.
Davos is globally recognized as the place where the gold standard of discussions takes place during the World Economic Forum where the gathering of world leaders convene to discuss pressing issues on a highly coveted world stage. The WEF is by invitation only and with heads of state at every corner, the security operation during WEF is a sight to see in itself. It's unsurprising then, that moderating or speaking as a panelist at Davos is a very prestigious, yet highly pressurized experience.
The Lan Space Summit was a place we programmed for thought leaders and societal change-makers to gather during this time, converging the frontiers of technology and humanity in an immersive, elevated experience. With over 200 elite investors in attendance, we wanted the space to be a crucial place on the promenade for digitally native visionaries and global leaders to connect and hold values of trust, partnerships, collaboration, preservation, and protection of the planet to the core.
With the rugged snow-capped setting of the Swiss Alps transformed by the picturesque view of the mountain meadows in May, this year Davos was different not only because of the change of scenic backdrops but more so because of the lack of global cooperation to solve the most pressing issues of our current and future generations. With the turbulent aftermath of Covid-19 and its resulting rise of inequality, coupled with the climate crisis and the geopolitical turmoil following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it was important for us that the agenda-setting conversations taking place focused on moving the needle in crucial areas.
We, therefore, felt it was important to design a diverse yet disruptive program where a variety of formats from panel discussions to debates and performance-focused workshops could take place. Each day of the summit was dedicated to a specific theme, spanning from solidarity in sustainability, to disruptive decentralization, the future of leadership, and the arts. In line with our values, we wanted conscious leadership to be a key theme weaved throughout the program, so we incorporated a sensorial quantum exploration of the chakra system to ground our delegate's minds and bodies to be fully present during the experience.
The road of social injustice and mental distress is what leads to extinction. The other road, currently less traveled, is that of conscious choice-making in communities which could lead to a more peaceful, sustainable, and healthier world. As we explore consciousness, I hope that is the road that we'll take, but it requires diligence and continued expansion of conversations like these.
In a discussion at the Lan Space about the spiritual codes of success.
Moderating or speaking at a panel at Davos can be a challenging but rewarding experience, and there are a few best practices you can follow to ensure that talks are productive and engaging:
1. Prepare ahead of time: Make sure you are familiar with the topic of the panel and the backgrounds of the panelists. Quality research is imperative and will help you ask informed questions to facilitate a productive discussion. We set up calls with all of our panelists in advance to have a better understanding of what specific areas they were passionate about and how best to match speakers' energy with each other. As a moderator, it's your job to conduct the flow of energy in the room. People will always remember how you make them feel.
2. Set the tone: As the moderator, you must set the tone for the panel. Be respectful and inclusive, and encourage open and honest dialogue. Don't be afraid of calling out false information and sparking debate among speakers. This also creates trust and engagement for your audience.
3. Encourage participation: Make sure that all panelists have an opportunity to speak and contribute to the discussion. Use open-ended questions to encourage panelists to share their thoughts and experiences. There will be times when a speaker tries to take over the stage and you must be able to artfully reign them back in. Part of this comes from the briefing you give speakers ahead of time. We had a specific hand signal that we shared with our speakers so we could discreetly navigate the conversation.
4. Keep the panel on track: Stay focused on the topic of the panel and make sure that the discussion stays on track. If the discussion starts to stray, gently steer it back to the main topic. Again, our hand signal helped in navigating this, but at the same time, a moderator should not hesitate to politely interrupt a speaker if the conversation is going off on a tangent.
5. Encourage audience participation: We designed a surprise element in many of our sessions where we kept a chair for a brave audience member to join us, or had selected an audience member in advance that we invited halfway through the discussion to stir up the room. It is extremely important for the audience to ask questions and participate in the discussion to foster a more interactive and engaging experience for everyone. Equally, if you are in the audience and want to connect with specific speakers, make sure you have a good list of questions prepared in advance. People always remember those who ask good questions!
6. Keep the panel concise: Time is often limited in places like Davos, so make sure that the panel stays on track and finishes within the allotted time frame. If this means cutting short a discussion, don't be afraid to do it. But also remember to leave enough time for Q+A. Speakers and delegates are often fitting more than 20-30 events in a day with several speaking engagements - be mindful of not messing with other people's schedules.
7. Speak so people want to listen: As a speaker, make sure you are always bringing value to the discussion and not using the stage for an ego boost. It's important to work on tone, body language, and style of delivery to create the most understanding and engagement with the audience.
8. Getting the opportunity to speak: Research the satellite events happening and reach out to event organizers only if you feel your subject expertise truly matches. Don't be offended if you get rejected, a lot of speaking spots are held for sponsors, partners, white badge holders, and headliners only.
If you haven't been to Davos before we've put together the following tips to help maximize your experience.
Accommodation: Davos has an extremely high ticket price attached to it. It's a small village with a limited amount of space and thousands of people wanting to attend. It is not uncommon to hear about CEOs sleeping on the couch during Davos. Therefore be prepared to pay a minimum of £5K per person to stay in Davos to around £3K in a neighboring village like Klosters for a 3* level. If you want 5* be prepared to fork out £20k+. There are dedicated, vetted Telegram groups for finding accommodation, like the unDavos group. If you go through Airbnb be very careful. Many deals on there are too good to be true and get canceled at the last minute.
Neighboring Villages: The only neighboring village we would recommend is Klosters which is 30 mins on the train to Davos Platz. The drive is about the same but you need to factor in at least another 30 mins for military security checks which take place on the road to Davos. You will not be allowed in without your passport so don't forget this! Also, because of the snow and mountain roads, accidents happen and sometimes it can take 4 hours to drive between Klosters and Davos. The train is always the best option but be aware that the last train stops shortly before midnight. Uber's typically cost 150-300EUR+ to get back to Klosters. The reason we don't recommend any other villages is that it simply is too far and not worth the logistical headache with the military and snow. Be aware that some villages advertised may only be 20 miles away, but 2hrs+ to get to.
Parking + Shuttles: It is really hard to find a parking space near the promenade because almost everything has been taken over by the military. If you do drive, look for parking away from the promenade and be prepared to walk. There is a parking garage at Davos Platz. The WEF has dedicated shuttles to get between Klosters + Davos for badge holders and if you're in a big group, we recommend hiring a driver for the morning/evening commute. This can cost around £1-2K per day for groups of 10-20+.
Events: Parties in Davos are legendary. There are amazing gala dinners, panels, chalet gatherings, and soirees being organized by satellite events like House of Balance, Finnish Flow, Female Quotient, Top Tier Impact, 100 Women of Davos, Polkadot, Infosys, Singapore, India, and Africa House to name a few. It's safe to say a lot of the magic happens at night. All will have an application process to join through their respective websites. You can also find many more through Eventbrite and invite-only Telegram groups like unDavos. Here's a brilliant article by the founder on maximizing your time in Davos. Keep your eyes out for the DavosX app that gets released the week before WEF that aggregates all of the coolest events to attend, as well as Davos Week. Also, be sure to book any important dinners and lunches with restaurants well in advance, it is notoriously hard to get reservations closer to the time. If you do want to host your own event, be prepared to pay anywhere from £50K for an hour to £1mil for a full-day event. We have helped several brands and individuals organize the most exclusive caliber of events so get in touch with us here if you want to arrange a discovery call.
Attire: Temperatures can easily plummet to -15c. There will be a lot of snow and ice so make sure you pack warm clothes that are also smart and can last throughout the day/night. Here is a great article on "How To Dress For Davos." There isn't much time to come back to hotels with diaries typically having 30+ events per day to maximize. It's also hard to leave backpacks anywhere so try to be as compact as you can. The most important thing to pack is snow boots that have a proper grip on the ice. Too many people fall on the promenade each year and break body parts. We hope this will never happen to you, but if it does be very careful of the local hospital (Spital Davos). Several people we know have had surgeries go wrong there because many of the surgeons are entry-level. The best thing to do (if you can endure the pain) is to fly home or to Zurich / Geneva, where expert medical care is. This often surprises people, but medical experts are not located in local ski villages. Suffice to say, medical and travel insurance is a must.
Badges + WEF: Attendance at the events of the World Economic Forum is by invitation only. Membership costs companies more than six figures with a very high standard of metrics for entry that is typically reserved for c-suite leaders at Fortune 100 companies. WEF attendees are known as white badge holders and there will be certain hotels like the Belvedere and Seehof where only badge holders can enter. The only way to get a badge to these hotels is to be attending an invite-only satellite event that takes place there, which will usually have a high ticket price attached to it. This badge will only last for the day of the event and will not allow you access to anywhere other than that specific hotel. It will also not allow you entry to the Kongresscentre where WEF takes place.
The theme for Davos 2023 is "Cooperation in a Fragmented World". We will be delivering workshops and moderation for House of Balance and Finnish Flow in Davos next January centered around the Future of Mobility and Planets Before Profits. Our founder, Farah Nanji, will be airing an exclusive track recorded with samples from her discussion with Deepak Chopra, at both spaces. She will also be djiin' for many soirees in the mountains. Follow her on LinkedIn to stay connected with our movements.
More of our insights on moderating, speaking, and attending Davos can be found in the video below and on Apple and Spotify.
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SPEAKING AT DAVOS