On 12 December we gathered Brussels event organisers, attendees and speakers for the first event hosted by us – to discuss events of course. 40 participants came prepared to answer tough questions like what defines a good speaker? and why do you host events?
The ‘tough’ is not a joke. For a community that largely exists for events – for people to hear and be heard – few ask why and how we do this. The result is that the Brussels event is in a rut, no longer insipiring for its insiders and ever further removed from its outsiders.
So we gathered to pinpoint frustrations, retire some pointless practices and start setting up a better, quality driven debate culture for Brussels. Below we have summarised the main points of our first meeting that you can digest over the holidays. The task ahead for the new year is to turn these words into deeds!
Brussels event organisers, attendees and speakers about Brussels events:
1. The best debates happen for a reason, when organisers are not complacent and where events are set up as a real give and take between diverse speakers and a diverse audience – with quality moderators!
2. The best speakers are engaging, dynamic, inspiring, open-minded critical thinkers who speak authentically and with conviction. They do not give monologues!
3. Note in the above point, no one said a good speaker is high-ranking. You limit diversity when you over-emphasise someone’s professional role or title over their contribution or speaking ability. With fewer women at the highest levels, it is also more difficult to ensure gender balance if you always want the CEO to speak.
4. Ensuring diversity means everyone – you! – must be proactive about getting out of their bubbles and engage with “other worlds”. Think of how your social media stream reinforces your views – the same goes for many Brussels events. For diverse panels, organisers must invite speakers and an audience of different backgrounds, perspectives, genders, ages and more – and be transparent about this. Diversity needs consistent prioritising.
5. Difficulties in guaranteeing speaker diversity often emerge when members, clients or partners set the agenda, provide speakers or finance events. Your task and obligation (to better debates, to diversity and to your client) is then to communicate the value of more diversity!