Karin Burger started a classic speaker bureau 19 years ago. Early into her business venture she met one of the best memory trainers in Europe, Gregor Staub and started managing him. For the first five years of her speaker bureau career, she was involved in organising events and tours and got to know people in the German Speaker’s Association. She says that Gregor was influential in punting her strong organisational skills amongst speakers and this is how her agency grew.
She says everything she does is about a team effort and that her organisation ‘Team Karin Burger’ is named as such, because everything she does and says always looks to teamwork.
Building her bureau as a single mum of two, she says her business grew steadily. But it grew by listening to people who are intelligent and/or have more experience she could learn from. Karin says that she surrounded herself with people who have good brains and hearts.
She says you should never hesitate to ask for advice or help and that in business you may not know the solution, but you may know somebody who does and can still help your clients and colleagues.
The corona virus took her business from over 150 planned events for 2020 to a place of uncertainty. She had to think quickly to keep her business going and embraced the streaming way of life. She learnt the new vocabulary and decided threw her time into understanding how it all works. Karin notes that in many ways she took the approach that she needed to share the problems, solutions and possibilities of the new speaker landscape with their clients and the willingness to transform the way things worked.
Making this new digital shift was a challenge with the daily responsibilities of kids at home during lockdown, but she says it also pushed her to thrive. Throwing herself into a new world, her new normal included working nights, days and weekends. Karin says that although the classic speaker business has shrunk by 90%, that the online world has opened up virtual stands and exhibits and that all speakers are needing to develop new technical skills and ways to engage virtually. You cannot have the mindset that the virus will disappear, you cannot wait, you have to connect your talent to a digital medium to stay with the game.
Karen now sees her new work as virtual performance. She says it’s not all about technology, and that you can use real stuff. Many colleagues are transforming their performance through her exhibitions. Some use real backgrounds, paper and pens. So, ask yourself how much you want to use. Learn the basics but you don’t have to become a technician. Your performance is still key, but you have to adapt it for the screen.
To become a good speaker, Karin says you must never do the same speech twice. Every engagement needs to be unique and the interaction and new way of thinking is that you should use the crowd, the audience and interact with them. The virtual world has made asking your audience questions even easier. For example, in a big room, you might not raise your hand, but when online people will be able to engage digitally through technology and this opens up the opportunity to get real truth. She says organisations should leverage this positive way of engaging truth and get speakers to ask the critical questions that leaders want to know.
Karin will be talking with Katja Schleicher and Tom Friedlander at Innovation In Speaking (Un)Conference for a unique presentation that will see Tom play the piano throughout. Here she will show attendees why and how it is important to make online events emotional through music and art which she believes should be a key focus for times to come.
Get your tickets here.