What Are The Benefits Of Fireside Chats?

Jack Hayes
Director
Fireside Chat

The fireside chat format is a unique approach to engaging audiences at corporate events. Comprised of an interviewer and interviewee, the goal of a fireside chat is to answer the questions that are the most relevant to those in attendance.

More unpredictable and on-the-spot than a traditional Q&A or speech, they aim to provoke experiential stories alongside direct and practical advice through comprehensive questioning and a conversational style.

Unpredictability

Born, in many ways, out of fiery debates brought on by shows such as Question Time, and the back and forth we see on PMQ, fireside chats can be unpredictable. But unpredictable doesn't have to mean unprepared. The speaker, in fact, will likely have a story up their sleeve for all topics of discussion.

Sometimes, though, a question can take a speaker by surprise, making the whole event seem like more of a live spectacle. Whether it an off-the-cuff comment or crafty one-liner, the unpredictability is pure theatre, something that just isn't the same on YouTube.

Control

It may sound like a juxtaposition now after what we just said about unpredictability, but we promise it is not. While the beauty of on-the-spot answers adds to the unpredictable nature of a fireside chat, the truth is, the interviewer has control over it. They decide how it pans out, ensuring key points are discussed.

In essence, the interviewer knows what they want the speaker to say, and they know more or less the answer they wish to receive. This is effective on talk shows, where hosts will be given notes on discussion topics and the guest will come well-prepared with an answer. Win/win.

Intimate Connections

The drip of sweat, the 'should I/shouldn't I?', the stutter on the microphone. What audience member doesn't want to be part of that? Whether plucking up the courage to ask a question on the microphone or merely Tweeting one for the host to ask for them can make an audience member feel truly involved in the conversation.

With a question designed by an audience member, they will feel the answer is more relevant and even personal to them, and others will buzz off it too. Audience participation is central to a fireside chat's purpose.

A Wider & Better Pool of Talent

At The Motivational Speakers Agency, we know better than most that not all high-profile sports stars, politicians and business leaders have an extraordinary speech ready to reel off at a moments notice. We also acknowledge that it can take weeks and often months to work on.

Who has that time? This is where the Q&A style is ideal for events. Essentially, you are broadening the talent pool available. Anyone who wants to can participate in a fireside chat, and will likely feel honoured you chose them for yours. Better talent means a bigger audience; a bigger audience means a better return.

Interaction

Point of view is everything. There is little to take from an event if an interviewer is too focused on getting the right answers. Letting the speaker drift is hugely important for allowing the speaker to relax and speak freely on their experiences.

Asking leading questions, attached to the original line of questioning, can lead to the most honest answers - so make sure you find an interviewer who can think on their feet. Remember it is a three-way conversation and not a one-way monologue.

The more selfless your interviewer is the better they will be; it is not about them but about making the speaker look good and identifying with the audience. Using phrases such as: "like many of you" or "we all know…" serves two important purposes, to allow your audience to feel involved and to show that you recognise that they too are experts in their field.

If a fireside chat is something that you would like to host, you can have a look at our guide on how to organise a fireside chat here.

Here at The Motivational Speakers Agency, we have a whole host of fireside chat speakers. Contact us by filling in our online contact form or by calling a booking agent directly on 0207 1010 553 to book today.