10 ways to get most out of Davos
Autumn, the time for change. Leaves turn from green to gold, people re-schedule meetings, and organizations shift gears to reach final quarter goals. Leaders often reset priorities to reach their targets. And too often, preparing for the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting ends up on the bottom of the list. As sure as the last leaves fall, invitations for WEF meetings start piling on leaders’ desks.
The WEF isn’t until 23-26 January, 2018, which seems a long way off. It’s not. After positioning and profiling leaders at the WEF for the past seven years, let me offer 10 pieces of practical advice:
- Find your North Star. The WEF Annual Meeting brings together leaders to address various topics under the common theme “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”. To ensure that you get the most out WEF, articulate your narrative – not just your mission, but your vision.
- Articulate your call to action. Once you find your North Star, what will be your call to action when you meet other leaders at Davos? To set your agenda, develop powerful and memorable sound bites that make your call to action memorable.
- Listen and learn. Your call is only half of the act. Do you merely want explore new horizons at WEF this year? Or, do you simply want to meet leaders that share your passions or cause? Or do you really want to position a new initiative by speaking primarily to the media?
- Map side events to attend. If it is the first year that you are attending WEF, keep an eye out for TopLink and be sure to sign up for the events that are in line with your North Star when registration opens.
- Schedule bilateral meetings. You can carefully plan meetings, or you can leave Davos up to chance and hope for serendipity. Be properly briefed for the bilateral meetings. By scheduling meetings you can also organize pockets of time for serendipity. The coffee bar next to the Sanada room is a great place to meet. But be prepared for the noise. You might eschew the phone for WhatsApp or email.
- Host a side event with partners. If you are part of a coalition, co-hosting a side event is a powerful branding opportunity. Be sure to set up the event so that it caters for a conversation, rather than merely a panel discussion. Your audience will want to talk and contribute after a day of listening at the larger public events. If you want to set the table for advocacy and promote food for thought, consider a breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting. But be sure to start booking your venue now. Hosting your own side event is also a great way promote a topic that is not on the public WEF agenda.
- Host round table conversation. If hosting a 100-person dinner is too time-consuming or costly, consider inviting several of your key influencers to a breakfast, lunch or dinner (either inside or outside the security zone). By limiting the number of participants to a dozen people, you are more likely to stimulate conversation. To secure their participation, make sure the participants save the date(s) as soon as possible. Develop a briefing document (e.g., participant bios and topic background) to enhance fruitful discussion and get the most out of leaders setting aside valuable time at WEF.
- Secure a speaker engagement. If you wish to speak, take the initiative. Reach out to your WEF contact and indicate what you would like to speak on, emphasizing your expertise.
- Publish insight. The Davos week is a flurry of activity, with confetti of announcements. Consequently, it is hard to be heard through the noise. If you have a report or insights that you are considering publishing, bring them to Davos.
- Media relations. Perhaps you have attended Davos, and have hosted or even spoken at an event. But then, perhaps few outside of immediate orbit knew. Use this opportunity to speak globally. After all, it is the World Economic Forum. Remember, the major international media will be on site looking for stories. International media not on site want the latest news. The key is to make your story compelling – to let your North Star shine. And that’s where we might help.
Ingrid Helsingen Warner
Senior Advisor, International Communications, based in Oslo
Ingrid is currently on maternity leave. At Leidar she supports internationally-minded leaders and companies with their positioning and thought leadership activities.