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'Speak to the Human' event 2024 - finding belonging and connection

Speak to the human 2024 event

“This had such a different, special feel to it - it's a really brilliant event.”

Our third annual “Speak to the Human” event was on 6th June, and was a day packed full of energy, positivity and thought-provoking content.

With a theme of 'belonging and connection', our line-up of speakers and contributors gave us a strong narrative that was insightful, personal and a joy to experience.

We had a hugely enthusiastic response from everyone there – just a few examples…

  • “The atmosphere, guest and speaker choice, ethos and organisation were the best I've experienced.”
  • “Such a brilliantly executed, creative and inspiring event.”
  • “As always with Acteon, I walked away with a mind filled with ideas and inspiration! I think to myself, THIS is what connection, collaboration and fun networking feels like...”
  • “Everything about the event was exceptional.”

Cath Bishop, Eleanor Gooding, Helen Hughes

A few highlights from the day

Our speakers shared a wealth of stories and insights to bring our theme to life. Host for the day was Acteon Director Owen Rose, who set the tone with a lively and fun introduction.

Cath Bishop, Olympic silver medallist rower and former diplomat, was such a compelling keynote speaker and storyteller, she had us spellbound listening to her experience leading up to two Olympic games. She asked some incredibly thought-provoking questions about how we define success, and how we tap into deeper human motivation through the 3Cs of the “long win”: clarity, connection and constant learning.

She posed questions about how we can focus on performance rather than results, how we become outstanding at improving, and how we should all listen more than we speak!

Eleanor Gooding, People & Culture Director at Boost Drinks, shared her valuable experience in developing company culture in 5 steps: 1) Get your thinking straight; 2) Define the big stuff; 3) Have the right people; 4) Put in the work; 5) Hold yourself to it.

Eleanor shared her own story which really made her talk connect with the audience, and her final blank slide was a powerful way to show the uncertain future for her company and colleagues. So memorable.

Leena Haque and Sean Gilroy are leading the BBC’s Inclusivity and Accessible Design initiative, and gave a deeply moving and meaningful presentation – ‘Embracing neurodiversity and unlocking potential’. Leena shared her own experiences so beautifully, including her own illustrations. And Sean is a shining example of a leader showing how organisations can respond better to cater for neurodiversity. Together Sean and Leena are forging a path that challenges thinking and will hopefully prompt wider change.

Helen Hughes from Leeds University Business School is a wonderful speaker, dynamic researcher and provided some excellent research-based insights into hybrid working. She talked about the importance of taking a whole-system approach to making hybrid working successful – thinking about space, people, culture, technology.

Helen's network diagrams show how physical location in an office, or remotely, affects the networks people build, who they interact with, and can impact whether they enjoy and ‘succeed’ in their work. And how mandating of hybrid rules/habits can have knock-on effects on culture.

Michelle Johnson, Zahoor Ahmad, Jasmine Rose

Connecting the threads and spaces

For our afternoon panel session, we were joined by Michelle Johnson of PXC, Zahoor Ahmad of Co-op, and Jasmine Rose of RockCorps, chaired by Owen. Together they did such a brilliant job of exploring many of the themes that had come up earlier in the day, as well as delving into topics like how we can enable people to be more authentically themselves at work, how young people can be more effectively brought into the workforce, and the endless fascinating twin topics of psychological safety and imposter syndrome.

Then a roundtable discussion slot was led by Acteon Director James Woodman, exploring the barriers and enablers to building belonging at work. It certainly felt like there were some valuable exchanges of ideas and experiences between participants.

Woven between and around the speakers we had our trademark injections of energy and surprise – the things that make ‘Speak to the Human’ so different from a conventional conference.

Fergus and Neb from TalkMagic literally brought magic ingredients to the day – they were amazingly fun and a great addition, with mind-boggling tricks.

Hannah Williams from Scribble Inc has become an integral part of our event – working at the back of the room on a large two-metre canvas to capture the content through live illustration. Watching her artwork unfold through the day is always fabulous!

Live illustration in progress

Lydia & Israel our musicians this year brought a lovely vibe and simply beautiful, soulful sound – the live music really adds something so special to the atmosphere.

Our ‘Lego connection station’ made for a cool place for people to go and create, chat and literally connect.

Lego creations

Keeping the conversation going

We’re thrilled with the response we’ve had from participants and speakers, and we’re already planning ahead for next year’s event.

In the meantime, we’ll be creating new content for our ‘Speak to the Human’ community, including our new podcast. Find out more here: acteoncommunication.com/podcast/


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