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Friday Five: Deborah Thomas, Founder of Papillon Speakers


Answering the #FridayFive today is Deborah Thomas, Founder of Papillon Speakers.


Tell us a bit about your job?

I own and run Papillon Speakers, a boutique Speaker Bureau representing some of the very best motivational, inspirational and keynote speakers in the UK. Inevitably I wear many hats in my day-to-day mission in order to deliver the best fit of speaker to the target audience.

I research and source new speakers both for my website and for specific client briefs, whilst also ensuring that my current portfolio of speakers’ speaking topics and marketing materials are fully up-to-date. My role is to listen very carefully to my clients’ speaker requirements so that I thoroughly understand their organisation and the objectives for their event. A client invests a lot of money into an event so it’s vital that my speakers hit the mark with their messaging, which is why I only put forward highly experienced and talented speakers that accurately fulfil my clients’ brief.


What are the key ingredients for success?

Building trust and great relationships with people. It’s all too easy these days to hide behind a screen and send emails, as a result of which the process can become impersonal and remote. When you get to really know someone and build relationships based around trust and integrity you work with them in a different, much more personal way. I have learnt so much from the many speakers I work with. They’re incredibly motivated and inspirational individuals. Also, when I started Papillon Speakers I took on a business mentor who provided a framework and discipline so that I stayed focused on my vision and goals for the future of my business, even when the going got tough.


Could you describe a normal day?

I love what I do as it’s so varied. Typically, I answer email enquiries first thing in the morning and diarise my calls for the day and week ahead. A typical day involves a video briefing call with a client and a speaker to fully explore the client’s event and requirements for the speaker. It is important for my energy levels to recharge, so I try to have some down time during my day. Usually, an hour of yoga at lunchtime gives me an energy boost and mental reset to remain effective and productive. Afternoons normally involve client calls, creating speaker proposals and good old fashioned prospecting activity.


For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?

I gained plenty of experience supporting a busy sales team and ran my own Training Consultancy, where I trained people on software applications. For anyone starting out in the industry, I’d recommend exploring an agency or sales role where you are customer facing and communicating with people all day, every day. Beyond that it comes down to passion, self-belief, integrity and hard work.


What are you reading and listening to right now?

I’m listening to the Best Friend Therapy podcast with Elizabeth Day and Emma Reed-Turrell. It’s thought provoking and I love understanding what makes us who we are.

I’m re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I haven’t read it for years and having recently seen the absolutely fantastic stage production with Rafe Spall in the West End, I felt compelled to re-read what is a classic work.

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