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Platform and NSA - Ryan Avery

The Pros and Cons for Changing the Name of NSA

By Leadership, Motivation 55 Comments

Many of you are speakers and this post will focus on the name change of a very important organization to our industry. For those who do not identify as a speaker, you will still take away important lessons of what to consider when making a big announcement.

I attended the 2014 National Speakers Association (NSA) Conference this week in San Diego for the first time. I joined NSA in July 2013 and have been looking forward to this event for almost a year. Filled with life-changing content, building blocks to life-long friendships and inspiration from the world’s greatest speakers, this week was an event that will be remembered for a lifetime!

The organization made a HUGE announcement during the conference and over the past several months the Board of Directors along with staff, special committee, hours of deliberating, surveys and questioning- the leadership team has decided to change the name of the National Speakers Association to Platform.

I have mixed feelings about this and don’t know why we needed a major name change overhaul like this (As I have heard, membership has been at an all-time high and we had a $100,000 surplus in our operating budget last year) but they said “the rate of change in recent years has outpaced the evolution of the organization, and it was clear we needed to make a number of changes to stay relevant as the premier association that serves the speaking profession.” Here are the pros and cons to changing the name of NSA:

Cons to changing the name of NSA

It is SO broad that it doesn’t tell people who we are.
I like the word “speaker.” I understand that others don’t identify as speakers as many of our members are entertainers, comedians, bloggers, authors, etc. and we are wanting to be more inclusive but there are many other organizations, associations for those people to join. This group is focused on speaking and using our voice to inspire, educate and entertain. Speakers first, blogger/author/comedian/etc. later. It is a disservice to Cavett Robert (Founder of NSA), our members and those we serve for not including a form of “speaker” in the name of our organization.

It sounds like an event, not a group!

I feel like I am going to Platform, not that I am part of Platform. It doesn’t tell me who I am or what I do. TED is an event. SXSW is an event. Sundance is an event. As I heard it explained, the Medial Doctors Association is not changing their name to Emergency Room, Plumbers Association of America are not change their name to Toilet and the Sailing Association of Australia is not changing their name to Ocean. Just because we speak from the platform, it does not need to be the name of our organization. I am afraid this word is trendy and what will it mean in 10 years?

What does this mean for everything else? 
When they rolled out the name change on stage, they didn’t explain what else was changing. What about the website? What about the membership requirements to join? Where do we learn more about this and how can we get more information about how we incorporate this into our marketing?

Pros to changing the name of NSA

It will help grow our industry to include more professions.
The term “platform” allows other professionals to join our organization who do not feel they are speakers but rather thought leaders in a variety of mediums (blogging, vlogging, writing, entertainment, etc.). As much as I like the word speaker, I think it will grow the organization and attract new members around the world.

It is no longer a national organization but rather encompasses a global scale.
We should have changed it to Global Speakers Association with Platform being what our events were called and breakout sessions focused on platform specifics for speakers, bloggers, entertainers, comics, etc. But Platform is a more inclusive word than National, as we now have 20+ countries represented around the world. But again, why not Global Speakers Association?

The tagline is spot on!
Inform. Influence. Inspire. This, as an industry, is what we do and they did a wonderful job summarizing what value we add as speakers to those we serve with these three words. This will be a great way to help explain to others what I do for a living and that I am more than a public speaker, I am a problem solver.

Regardless of what you think about the name change, this involved a big announcement and a HUGE change to an organization who has more than 40 years of history. I commend the leadership team and Board for making this change and actually taking action to try and remain relevant. So the next time you are planning on making a big announcement at work, home or to your members, here are things to remember:

1) Remain professional and get insight from the world’s experts
2) Be prepared to answer questions and have staff trained and ready to answer FAQs
3) Have a place for people to get in touch to answer even more questions
4) Ask the right person to deliver the news to the group
5) Do a great job explaining “why” but also the “now what?”
6) Do your homework on what others inside and outside the organization think
7) Practice, Practice, Practice delivering the announcement beforehand

However, I don’t think associations are dead, I think the way we market them needs to improve and how we reach our target market could use some work. Because we are in over 20 countries now, I understand the need to change the word ‘National’ and would have like to have seen it be changed to The Global Speakers Association.

We are moving forward with Platform and it is an exciting time in the organization’s history as we plan to continue to serve thousands of people around the world each year with our messages, our ability to solve problems and add value to the masses.

QUESTION: I want to know what other (speakers and non-speakers) think about the new name change. Do you like the name Platform, why or why not? As speakers, let’s do what we do best and start talking and creating a conversation by posting our opinions below.