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How To Inspire Your Teams With Fireside Chats

How do you inspire your executive teams to lead better without incurring significant costs in terms of time and money?

One approach I'd recommend you try is a series of fireside chats with inspirational business leaders.

Done well, they can have powerful and positive impacts, and they can be done at scale.

So, what exactly is a fireside chat?

And how do you run a series successfully?

What Is A Fireside chat?

The best firesides typically consist of a host or moderator who is leading the conversation, a guest who is sharing his or her experiences and an audience that is enabled to join in and ask questions throughout.

Thankfully, technology now means you can run these events in both physical and virtual formats.

And a well-run event can cover significant ground and do it in a way that is specific and relevant to your audience's circumstances.

Take this webinar with Youth Employment Service (YES) South Africa founder Tashmia Ismail-Saville.

In this case, I explore how governments and companies can drive entrepreneurship and innovation at scale.

And because it's being held on the first day of women's month, I also can unpack Tashmia's journey to success and look for key take-aways that both men and women can apply at work to #breakthebias.

We cover these topics because I believe these are key areas of interest for my client Sybrin's customer base.

Regardless, I'm certain of two things.

Firstly, everyone that does watch will be inspired by her story.

Secondly, the session will act as a catalyst, and many attendees will decide to act on the ideas discussed.

If this event was set up for a corporate leadership team, you can expect even better outcomes, as you have total control over who attends and what topics you want to explore.

I'm confident in this, having analysed the results of a series I ran for a client called the Inspire Series.

The link I've given you takes you to the public version, but before this, I ran a series of internal thought leadership sessions for EOH's entire complement of ~8,000 staff.

Each webinar was set for 60 minutes, and I ran one every month for over half a year.

So, What did I learn?

Key Learnings

Firstly, we regularly had a turnout of around 10% of the workforce.

In absolute terms, we usually had between 500 and 1,000 people dialling in because they wanted to, not because the big boss had told them to.

To consistently have that number of people voluntarily take one hour out of their day was a

great result.

The second observation was that drop-off rates were typically less than 20% for viewers who stayed watching for at least a few minutes. That meant that 70% to 80% of people felt the sessions were worthwhile enough to invest up to an hour of their time listening and engaging.

It broadened my horizons, influenced my thinking and yes, entertained me as well. Please don't stop.

The most important observation, though, was the level of impact.

It's nice when I see high numbers of attendees and high engagement levels.

But what really excites me is learning that a session has been a catalyst for positive change.

Most of the time, the feedback is anecdotal, like this...

I had already started with new ideas and thinking, but this provided me with more motivation and sometimes also inspiration. Thanks!!

So when I got the opportunity to poll 1,500 people who had watched the inspire series over a period of months, I was super nervous.

My biggest fear was that the positive feedback I'd received was from an outspoken few, and it would be swamped by the silent majority who'd found little to no value and certainly were not making decisions based on the sessions.


So we asked everyone who'd ever attended a session, are you doing anything differently at work due to this series?

80% of respondents replied that they have indeed changed how they work or are planning to do so soon.


What a stunning result.

But why was the series so successful, and can it be replicated by you?

My view?


If you concentrate on these four things, you'll have similar positive impacts at your organisation.

The Four Ingredients To Running Impactful Firesides

If you want to run similarly impactful firesides, then you'll need topics, guests and hosts that can create an engaging event for you.

But what else do you need to go from good to great?

For me, there are four extra ingredients.

1. Frequency

I ran that poll after hosting monthly interviews with thought leaders for at least half a year.

There is no way a single event will catalyse change to the same degree as a series.