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On Business Conversations...

I have some interesting business conversations…

When interviewing global business leaders, there is always a lot of preparation. We agree on the theme of the discussion, and it is often set against the backdrop of an industry or technological trend. Sometimes both.

I prepare a conversational thread with the interviewee. I suggest a sequence of questions that will help us sew the thread through a path that will engage both the interviewee and the intended audience. Building their input and messaging into the original suggestion is key. There are always important points and themes they want to get across, and I need to work them into the overall narrative, and within the time constraints.

When the camera(s) start rolling on the discussion, I always stick to the script for the first couple of questions. But my radar is up looking for interesting new angles that the interviewee may throw into the conversation. These are global business leaders and they are taking precious time out from running complex international organisations. Each one subject to all manner of challenges that I have little insight into. Yet I must pick up on key points they raise, and allow myself to go with them on a conversational journey off-script, simultaneously listening and responding to their insights, while maintaining the overall structure…and avoiding eye contact with the Producer who is motioning me to speed up!

I always do my research on my interviewee and their respective industries and aim to be as prepared as possible, yet I also like to let my curiosity off the leash during the interviews. This can yield interesting new threads from the interviewee which I can then pull on to create a stimulating discussion for them and the audience.

When interviewing multiple global leaders on the same day, things can get complicated. Having a great production team around you and a top Producer is essential.

A great location in a capital city is also a big asset. Wonderful Copenhagen and the Gorrissen Federspiel Board room at the top of the Axel Towers provides a great production environment, and helps facilitate a relaxing but professional dialogue with the global guests. The British Chamber of Commerce in Denmark is also an essential partner for maximising the effectiveness of the event or recording activities and I have worked with them for many years.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing on camera in the same day the CTIO and EVP of one of the worlds biggest logistics shipping companies, the former CEO of a global airline logistics company, and Technology Directors from Emergency Services, Pharmaceuticals and IT services. That was a tough one.

In many of these discussions there is a technological thread which I can pull on. But sometimes I get to interview someone from a totally different universe.

Such as a discussion with the CEO of an Icelandic movie and TV production company which has worked on some of the worlds biggest Hollywood blockbusters including The Midnight Sky, Oblivion and Justice League. What has always fascinated me is how much complexity there must be in bringing an idea to the screen, and having worked in Iceland for many years I was keen to learn how they handle the complexities of putting together vast sets on remote glaciers. You can check out the discussion here starting at minute 9:40. You can also see an interesting discussion on the challenges faced by the former CEO of a global airline logistics company when faced with the start of the pandemic in the same video at at minute 30:08.

I take a similar approach to business conversations whether I'm moderating a panel, conference or consortium workshop. Knowing when to go with the flow, pull on a particular industry or technological thread or tack to an adjacent discussion opportunity within the constraints of time and overall scope is key.

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