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Interview with Stefan Wijers

Read more about Stefan Wijers’s speaking engagements, motivations and clients here. Learn more about him in the interview with A-Speakers.

Can you provide 3 tips how to become a successful panel chairman?

Consider closely why an event is being held. What measurable result (ROI) would the organizer want to achieve? Keep focus.

Spend time to prepare a meeting format with variation that meets the desired goal. Make room for interaction.

Leave the beaten track behind occasionally. Make sure to take people in the audience seriously. Energy and flow emerge from an audience that is participative and involved.


What was the most challenging speaker engagement during your career so far?

A large hospital organized informative meetings after serious doubts about replaced hips. The press wrote about painful ‘horror hips’ and that surgery should probably be overdone. Per meeting there were 400 patients and relatives in the room, some in wheelchairs.

Everybody came to learn why on earth this could have happened, what the medical consequences were and about liability. Meeting design was crucial. Before any doctor, manager or lawyer entered the stage we would first spend time to listen to people’s stories. First of all people in the room told were they’re from.

A whole list of towns and villages were mentioned. That eased the tension and gave a peasant start. Then over to serious business: “If you’re worried, please raise your hand.” I as a moderator would ad randomly come by a couple of people and do a short interview. But I also asked the room “Who of you thinks that it won’t be that bad after all?” and a lot more hands went into the air.

I would ask “But how do you know, you haven’t heard anything yet?” This path forward brought a more balanced perspective and at the same time the audience felt heard right upfront. Another crucial aspect was that all orthopaedic doctors and surgeons in the hospital were rounded up to mingle with people, i.e. their patients. They were explicitly not wearing their white coats and first names were on their name badges.


Why do clients typically hire you to speak?

They want energy and engagement. Clients hire me when there’s a topic at stake that we should have a good talk about. Everybody should be heard and participate. It could be a symposium or a brainstorm. Result, focus. Or think of management meetings pivoting around the question ‘what is goes well and where do wee see room for improvement?’


How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?

Be curious. Ask questions. Preferably meet with your client beforehand face to face. Why are we sitting here today? What needs to happen in order to make this gathering a success?Make an effort to really understand a subject’s merit.


What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

Perhaps naive, but I hope to contribute a little bit to making the world a better place to live in. It gives me a good feeling to help building bridges and bringing about meaningful interaction.


Learn more about Stefan Wijers here!

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