How CEOs Evaluate Speaking Opportunities
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How CEOs Evaluate Speaking Opportunities

The average CEO receives 3.4 invitations to speak per week—or 175 per year—according to senior communications executives responding to a recent survey by Burson-Marsteller.

Paul Holmes

 The average CEO receives 3.4 invitations to speak per week—or 175 per year—according to senior communications executives responding to a recent survey by Burson-Marsteller.

The survey among 100 corporate communications officers found that while most (70 percent) are responsible for selecting CEO and C-suite conferences, few (12 percent) describe themselves as very satisfied with current resources for evaluating which conferences make the most sense for their executives and why.

The survey also asked the same respondents to name the conferences regarded as most influential for their CEOs and C-suite executives.

The top five Most Valuable Podiums for CEOs were the World Economic Forum, the Business Roundtable, the Detroit Economic Club, Fortune and Business Week. The World Economic Forum and Forbes tied for first place as the Most Valuable Podium for C-suite executives, followed by The Economist, Business Week and—in a three-way tie for fifth place—CERA Week, CIO Magazine, and Fortune,

“Companies are searching for answers on which conferences provide the most value in return for their time and effort,” said Carol Ballock, managing director of Burson-Marsteller’s executive positioning specialty group. “Given the tightness of schedules for most CEOs and C-Suite executives, it’s vital to know where they will deliver the most value for their company, the brand and key stakeholders when spending their time at a conference. Most companies do not have the internal capacity to move from reactive to proactive executive positioning across a range of conference types.”

Burson-Marsteller’s research also reveals that while the majority (75 percent) of corporate communications officers report they evaluate their return on investment from conference participation, their leading measure—executive satisfaction—is highly qualitative. The lack of rigorous measurement is surprising given that “forwarding the business” surfaced among the leading criterion for determining best executive conferences. 

“CEO and C-suite conferences are critical venues for building reputation and getting a company’s message across to influential audiences,” says Leslie Gaines-Ross, Burson-Marsteller’s chief knowledge and research officer. “Using conferences as a strategic tool to differentiate a company deserves better evaluation and we plan to conduct the Most Valued Conferences Survey annually to track the value of new and established conferences for the CEO and C-suite executives.”

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