PSA Chair’s Blog, March 2024

28th February 2024 | By Joanne Lockwood

PSA Chair’s Blog, March 2024

It’s been nearly five months since the AGM last October. As your Chair, I am proud and excited to share this update as to what the Board of Directors are working on and delivering for you, our members.

Strategic Board Recruitment: Our search for four dynamic directors in Commercial, DEI, Membership, and Learning and Development is underway and is aimed at enhancing our leadership and ensuring we remain at the forefront of our industry.

We are focused on identifying individuals who can bring innovative ideas and robust experience to these roles, strengthening our mission and vision. Please look out for communications over the next few weeks; every member is eligible to apply.

Digital Levelling Up Project (“Bob”): We are fully committed to our digital transformation, investing in technologies that will enhance our platforms’ usability and accessibility. This initiative is crucial for supporting our online services and ensuring we meet our members’ evolving needs. At the core of this is enhancing the member experience – self-serve payments and profile updates, tailored email, a better event registration experience, and improved management information and reporting functions. It’s a massive project, and we are currently in the final stages of vendor evaluations with a target of Q3 for the initial rollout. We’ll need help testing and ensuring it serves its purpose, so please look out for volunteer requests.

Board Overload and Structural Evaluation: Recognising the challenges of an overloaded board and operations team, we are evaluating our structure and resources. Initiatives include a comprehensive workload analysis and exploring advisory and volunteer team member roles to support our directors, ensuring we remain agile and responsive.

Conferences Spotlight: Our “Impact!” conference in April and the “Speaking Business Summit” in October are set to offer unparalleled opportunities for learning, networking, and professional growth. We are curating content-rich programs that cater to our diverse membership’s needs. Chantal, our National President, together with the rest of the Team, are working hard to deliver a world-class programme of events for you.

I implore you to book early and support these; we need to ensure our events break even and deliver value; in return, your commitment to attend is valued.


Membership Growth: With our membership numbers slowly increasing and now standing at 618, we will be investigating digital marketing and outreach strategies to continue this growth, ensuring we attract and retain members from a broad range of sectors and demographic backgrounds.

As per the strategy, retention is our primary growth strategy and delivering member value. We are looking at the decline in our Professional Member numbers, whilst an increase in our Associates. This will lead to initiatives that better deliver value to our Professional Members and ensure a clear differentiator between those and our Associate Tier.

One of these initiatives will be to split our speaking competition – in 2025, we will have ‘Emerging Speaker of the Year’ at Impact! and then ‘Professional Speaker of the Year’ at the Speaking Business Summit – we recognise that many members join under the allure of Speaker Factor as an associate, we would like to encourage you to join as professional members where possible and take advantage of the benefits of membership only open to Professional Members and Fellows. After all, “we are the Professional Speaking Association”, and that has to be our core focus.

In addition, the board has now established two new tiers of membership: Affiliate and Retired members. In the next few weeks, you will see communications explaining how they fit into the strategy and their value proposition.

Regional Events: We are addressing the challenges faced by regional events, exploring innovative formats, and enhancing marketing efforts to improve attendance and financial viability.

Our venues are reviewing their Day-Delegate Rates and Booking fees regularly, and many of our regions have experienced significant increases in core costs as a result. We continue to work with our venues to keep our events as cost-effective as possible, but inevitably, these rises must be passed on to the ticket price.

We have been faced with the sudden closure of our ticketing platform ‘Eventsframe’, which led us to a hasty migration to Eventbrite. Regrettably, we now must pass on the booking fee in addition to VAT. As part of our digital levelling-up project, we hope to have an integrated system which won’t attract booking fees.

We know ticket prices are a sensitive subject, and we are committed to ensuring that our regions deliver tangible value and return on your time and financial investment in these.

Strategic Focus: Our commitment to Strategy 2030 remains unwavering, with clear, measurable objectives guiding our journey towards this vision.

Link to the 2030 Board Strategy – The Road to 2030: A Vision for the Future of the Professional Speaking Association, UK & I

I will be publishing an update for the AGM later this year detailing the specific progress against the strategic plan along with our performance against the KPIs

PSA Foundation: The board, under the stewardship of Mike Pagan, are carrying out a review of the Foundation. Looking at its governance structure, its purpose, how it fundraises and the support it offers to our members. Over the coming months, you will see developments both from branding and positioning to website and social media presence. This will ensure the Foundation evolves and remains a key component of our benefits of membership.

Annual Membership Survey and CPD Accreditation: Insights from our annual membership survey will be instrumental in shaping our future direction, and our recent CPD Accreditation partnership will offer significant benefits to our members.

As a board, we need to hear your voice and feedback – how you feel about the PSA and the benefits you receive are important. We continue to operate a “you said, we did” ethos – please tell us!

We are committed to delivering value and additional benefits of membership – this is something our new Commercial and the Learning and Development Directors will be tasked with.

All Aboard Sessions and Suggestions: We are excited to introduce “All Aboard” sessions, where members can join video calls to learn more about our initiatives and ask questions. Additionally, our suggestions portal is always open for your insights and queries, ensuring every voice is heard.

We now invite our Regional Presidents to join our online board meetings every other month. This is part of our commitment to being open to challenge and as transparent as possible.

Acknowledgements: The dedication of our back-office teams and the Regional President team is invaluable, and we are committed to recognising their hard work through various channels and events.

I must also acknowledge the time and council from Simon Hazeldine, Julie Holmes, Janice B Gordon and Anthony Steers in their part in shaping the Commercial Director role, and Jackie Handy for providing her considerable expertise in the overall recruitment process and development of the role profiles.

And finally:

Our journey is one of collective effort, innovation, and dedication. As we navigate these initiatives, your engagement and contributions are more vital than ever.

We aim to be “The” Association for Professional Speakers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. An Association where you, as a speaker, feel a sense of belonging, shared values, and purpose with other members. Somewhere you feel you can grow your business and share ideas with others. Oh! And have fun and build lasting relationships.

Together, we will continue to elevate our Association, ensuring it remains a beacon of professional speaking excellence.

Warm regards,

Joanne Lockwood

Chair 2022-2025

The Professional Speaking Association UK & I

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