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Jul 12, 2017

Q and A: Nanette Moulton from Saxton Speakers Bureau

The Marketing Director at Saxton Speakers Bureau talks about her unusual background, the bond between a great speaker and their audience and why matching the speaker to the event is critical.

What do you do at Saxton Speaker Bureau?

I’m a director and I oversee the brand and marketing in particular but Saxton is a very hands-on company so I also find myself heavily involved with both the team and particularly with our exclusive speakers. We regard ourselves as a family and, like any family, there is much nurturing, coaching and problem solving to be done but it’s great fun!

Give us a little peek at your career background before your current role at Saxton.

My background is science and education, in particular Chemistry...an unusual background for a role in the meetings and events space. I have a science degree from Melbourne University and among other things I was involved in introducing computer technology into secondary schools...the days when a 128K Apple Mac was an awesome powerful tool. I worked with Joan Saxton’s daughter-in-law and it was that relationship that led us into the speaking industry.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

It’s the people – I am so fortunate to meet and interact with the most inspiring people every day from so many different walks of life...whether it be our fabulous speakers or our incredibly gifted and hardworking clients. Not to mention our wonderful team within Saxton – creative, driven, fun-loving people. At the event level, it is hugely rewarding seeing the effect that an outstanding speaker has on an audience. You can feel that special energy in the room and the personal effect they have.

How would your friends and colleagues describe you?

I’d like to think they would say I am positive, fun-loving and have a lot of energy with a “can do" approach. I think too that they might say I was open and direct and that I try to help where possible. My family are all like that...I am one of eight brothers and sisters! We are all keen to make a difference for all sorts of people. I think they would see me as a person who cares and has an ability to solve issues and problems so parties are happy.

What makes a good speaker? How does Saxton choose the speakers you represent?

Some people will find it surprising but we receive around 20 applications per week of which we take very few. After being in the industry for so long we find we can pick a quality speaker in just a few minutes. There are the usual prerequisites of humour, profile and presentation skills but it’s that indefinable bond in the room between the quality speaker and the audience that you can literally feel. Since we have had this business (30 years this December) we have always looked for people of substance….ones who have earned the right to speak and who want to share their passion and experience.

How important is it to choose the right speaker or entertainer for an event? How do you work with events to find the right fit?

It is critical. When you leave an event, it’s the speaker you remember rather than the crème brûlée and you remember the good and the bad! The speakers and entertainers define an event. They provide the vehicle by which that essential message is delivered. They provide the inspiration and the memories. Finding the right speaker or entertainer for a client requires a meeting of the minds between the client and the bureau. The perfect outcome is a result of a thorough brief and required outcomes and the bureau using their vast experience and resources to marry those needs to the talent that works. We are indeed a marriage counsellor!

What sets Saxton apart from its competitors?

We like to think of it as Quality People. We have the most amazing exclusive speakers...Ita Buttrose, Naomi Simson, Mark Bouris, Holly Ransom, Rachel Botsman, Jordan Nguyen to name just a few, as well as the genuinely caring and creative Saxton team and Quality Product (the whole process of engaging a speaker...our systems are world class if I do say so!). We are very careful who we bring into the family both from a team and speaker perspective. We are passionate about what we do, we truly care, we are creative and we know our product and know how to make it work for our clients.

What’s something few people would know about Saxton Speakers Bureau?

After a recent trip to the United States, I feel I can safely say that we are one of the best in the world. That is something that we have strived for. Our systems, software and people are first class. Seriously, such claims can’t be measured, but I believe that we can match it with them. Saxton has created such a supportive working environment for both our team and our speakers that it shines through to our clients. They know that we genuinely care about finding them the perfect speaker for their event and that they’ll get a speaker who’s passionate about what they do. Our clients come back time and again because they trust we always have their needs at the forefront.

Which speakers have really left an impression on you?

There are so many over such a long period of time. I would suggest James Strong for his passion and ability to transfer it to people, David Lange for his sheer eloquence, Ita Buttrose for her uncompromising integrity in everything she does and has done, Rod McGeoch for his sheer ability to inspire; and Holly Ransom for her extraordinary wisdom for one so young.

Which speakers are in demand at the moment?

We have a large market in Australia and a significant one overseas so it depends on the topic area. Some examples are businessperson, blogger and entrepreneur Naomi Simson; businessman and media personality Mark Bouris; London bombings survivor and peace activist Gill Hicks; biomedical engineer and inventor, Jordan Nguyen; thought leader, Rachel Botsman; author of Lion, Saroo Brierley; intergenerational leadership authority, Holly Ransom; and former Telstra CEO David Thodey.

Is there such a thing as speaker trends?

There are, but the trends are a combination of us listening to the market and our ability to influence the market with pre-eminent thought leaders, business luminaries and inspirational achievers. Dr Peter Ellyard says “As you move along the road to the future, the future changes you and you change the future".

What’s your favourite Australian event and why?

There are many industry events that I enjoy including MEA, AIME, the Australian Event Awards and Luxperinece, but, if I may be biased, the one I enjoyed most was our 50th Anniversary celebration in 2015. For me it was a history of what our industry has achieved. It was in a “This is Your Life” format hosted by Mike Munro. It featured the finest in venue, presenters and entertainers (24 in total!), staging professionals and event designers. You can see the highlights at www.saxton.com.au/australia-speaks and we can send anyone the full program and you can catch up with a bottle of red...

Why did you choose to work in the events industry?

Again it’s the people. I am continually inspired and motivated each and every day, even after nearly 30 years in the business. It’s challenging, exciting and it’s an opportunity to make a real difference both for the people we work with, our speakers and entertainers and our clients. It’s a real privilege to work with so many outstanding people.

What do you think lies ahead for Australian events?

Australian events are world class - we have operators here who can match it with, or surpass the best in the world. Add to that a unique country with so much to offer and you have a very special package. I know that business events have been growing consistently but I see that growth accelerating in this country. We are a truly sophisticated industry here now...I have seen it grow first-hand and I am proud to have been part of it and the great creative hardworking people it attracts.

Views expressed in this Q and A are solely those of the subject of the Q and A.