Gianfranco Chicco Speaker
We are delighted to welcome Gianfranco Chicco to Scamp Speakers.
Gianfranco Chicco is a conference director, marketing strategist, and writer, acting as a cultural translator between different worlds. He is also the curator of The Craftsman Newsletter, where he interviews and pays homage to those who take the expression of our humanity to a higher level. He kindly took some time out to answer a few questions about his speaking work.
How did your first speaking event come about and did you find it was something that came naturally to you?
Speaking came quite naturally, which doesn’t mean that I’m immune to getting nervous before an important talk. At university I was being picked as the speaker for the work-groups I was part of. Later, I started directing conferences like the World Business Forum and Social Media Week London, which would require introductions and MC’ing on stage, which led to fully fledged keynotes and running workshops. Since then, public speaking has become an important skill in my toolkit, and I’ve been doing it all over the world.
You talk on how to create experiences to bring people together. What were the challenges as an event organiser? Once you have a successful event do you strive to improve each year or stick to what you know is successful?
Conferences are first and foremost a social gathering. The why we gather evolves and changes, to the point that I believe that events have an expiration date. There are no formulas. You have to pay attention to what is important at a specific point in time to a particular audience, and facilitate that. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings.
In your speech about slow marketing you talk about the value of newsletters and podcasts. Given the growth of podcasts, do you have any advice on how to make your podcast stand out from the rest.
Newsletters and Podcasts are at the intersection of two very interesting trends, that of conversational marketing, and the return to a slower, calmer, more intimate internet. Standing out from the rest is of course desirable, but cannot be the starting point. The key is that you cannot be un-interesting or banal. Start there, create something that resonates with an audience, no matter how small. Foster those first relationships and you’ll understand what makes you stand out.
I am fascinated by your interest in Craftsmanship – how did you first get interested in it?
I started paying attention to craftsmanship while living in Italy and Japan. Initially fuelled by curiosity, as a celebration of the beauty and the stories of handmade objects, it later became a fresh oasis to recharge from a rising obsession with digital technology, which has been part my work since 1999.
Given the digital era and obsession (some may say) we live in now, can we really learn something from traditional craftsman in how we work today?
I believe that traditional craftsmanship can help us improve how we live and how we work. I don’t want to return to life before the industrial revolution. However, we’ve increasingly lost touch with what’s happening in our bodies from the neck down, we’ve detached ourselves from the cycles of nature, and – ironically – we’ve become more disconnected from the people that surround us. It’s principles like the fact that we cannot work alone, in isolation from others, that effectively passing on the knowledge we’ve accrued onto the next generation is a measure of our success too, and that in a world obsessed with growth at all costs we need to constantly ask ourselves what is enough.
Is there any particular technological trends that we should be aware of and the impact it may have in the events industry?
As a conference curator, I believe that first and foremost we should pay attention to social and environmental trends, and only then see what technology developments could support those. Technology trends are the result of technological innovation and what we pay attention to. Gathering physically will always be important, while the reasons why we gather change. In a world where flying less becomes an imperative to reduce our environmental impact, or to avoid black swans like the current Corona Virus crisis, virtual or remote experiences will become more relevant for knowledge transfer and transactional networking. However, serendipitous networking will still require meeting people face to face and breaking bread with them, more likely at a local scale.
What in your experience makes a good host and MC for conferences?
A good MC must have two main qualities: Care and empathy for the audience. Things like style, knowledge of a particular subject, or sense of humour become secondary – although not irrelevant – and a matter of personal preference.
What is next for you?
The thing I’m most excited about is a book I’m working on regarding what we can learn from Japanese craftsmen to improve how we live and work. The research is proving not only fascinating, but it has also changed my worldview of how we relate with others, personally and professionally, and with the world at large.