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In this episode of The Speaker Show, Maria Franzoni interviews Annie Voller.
Annie is a popular and experienced TV Presenter and Broadcaster of SKY TV, Sky Discovery, BBC to name but a few. She is a well-known expert in healthcare, science and lifestyle, presenting the very latest developments in worldwide health.
She has covered news from rogue surgeons and robotics to the latest pioneering drugs, surgery and developments.
In this episode, we discuss a range of her views on issues including:
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Maria Franzoni (00:18): The Speaker Show is brought to you by Speakers Associate the global speaker bureau for the world’s most successful organizations providing keynote speakers for events, conferences, and summits. Welcome back. My name is Maria Franzoni and I am delighted to be your host. My guest is a popular and experienced TV, presenter, and broadcaster of Sky TV, Sky Discovery, BBC to name but a few. She’s a well-known expert in healthcare science and lifestyle, presenting the very latest developments in worldwide health. She has covered news from rogue surgeons and robotics to the latest pioneering drugs, surgery, and developments. She’s passionate about health and patient power. She writes and comments on ethical healthcare practices, medical sack scams, postcode lotteries, and shows how to access drugs, treatments, and services, which may be off limits. But it’s her road testing of new bizarre and sometime illegal-highs, beauty, antiaging, and extreme health and diet treatments will show her spirit of adventure. Please give a warm welcome. We’re gonna have some interesting discussions with Annie Voller. Annie, welcome to the show. It’s lovely to have you here. How are you?
Annie Voller (01:31): I’m wonderful. And all the better for seeing and talking to you today, Maria, as well.
Maria Franzoni (01:36): Fantastic. I always get a little bit nervous actually in felt my hands are sweating because you are a professional broadcaster and presenter. So I always feel I have to raise my game. So I might be a little bit nervous today. I mean, I feel like I’m being interviewed.
Annie Voller (01:50): Well, don’t worry, Maria. I’ll put you at ease, which is half the battle. Isn’t it as a presenter anyway.
Maria Franzoni (01:56): It’s absolutely half the battle. Thank you. So there’s so much in your introduction, you do so much, you’ve done so much and the bit that interests me actually, because it relates to what we’re doing now, you’ve become a bit of a media entrepreneur haven’t you of late. Can you tell us about that?
Annie Voller (02:11): Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you for raising it. And it being the first, you know, our first point of conversation. Yeah. During lockdown, I set up an online radio station called No Barriers radio, wanted to do something else because I’ve been a news broadcaster and broadcaster in radio and television. So I wanted to set something up that was going to be different than anything that’s existing. Well, GB News has already kind of beat me to it on the news front. So as a radio station, it would be, it is very much an amplifier for music, culture, theater, the arts, and it offers something completely different, but it’s also a community interest company. So what that means is I personally, you know, as Afghanistan in particular has been very much in the news, I then thought to myself, right, okay. I want to create voices and give opportunities as well to people that previously wouldn’t necessarily be open to broadcasting and media. So I’m currently working with various organizations, to work with, serving soldiers, soldiers who’ve been injured and everything else to work very much in training them up and giving them an opportunity to be broadcasters on a professional radio station.
Maria Franzoni (03:38): Wow. That’s fun. Fantastic. That’s brilliant. And did that come about because of lockdown itself or was it something you’d always wanted to do?
Annie Voller (03:46): It was something I’d always wanted to do. I mean, as a broadcaster, I’ve popped up variously over the years on a lot of BBC stations and other, you know, diverse international stations as well. But I always, you know, I’m always a voice, you know, never an instigator, never anybody who sets an agenda, whether it’s music, what, you know, what, whatever the subject is, you know. And radio is a great medium to do that and to help people along the way as well. I’m a great advocate for diversity, more women in media, well, particularly radio actually, young people as well, giving them opportunities because, you know, I’m sure yourself, you know, with your background, everybody wants real life, world opportunities and experience don’t they? So it was bringing together everything that I’ve learned throughout the years and that I know, you know, being a presenter, being a news broadcaster as well, you know, the opportunities that people want.
Annie Voller (04:50): So obviously you have to have a core offering, you know, it has to be a radio station, you know, people need to want to listen to it. So the shows that were developed are of a good quality, but the opportunities that I feel now, I’m in a position to offer with diversity, with people, with additional needs, with, as I said, for example, you know, working with the military because I, you know, like a lot of people I’ve done the volunteering, I’ve done the helping, but I think, you know, with people who have got PTSD and let’s raise it, radio media is fun. It’s a fun exciting thing to be in and I want to make it more accessible and more open to all different types of people. And that’s what radio can do, you know, on so many levels. Yeah.
Maria Franzoni (05:50): I think you might actually have answered what I was going to ask you next. Because I think, you know, the sum summation of what media’s about what radio’s about. I was going to ask you, what do you think people have needed from media at this time? And maybe this is why you created the radio station. Is that right? Is that the two things that you put together?
Annie Voller (06:07): Yeah, very much so. I mean, one of the things that I have, I guess a profile and a lot of experience in is actually in health broadcasting. You know, I’ve worked for the major broadcasters again, you know, the international independent ones as well. And I’ve certainly been busy. You know, I kind of moved away from it actually into different areas of broadcasting, but health drew me back and COVID and everything out what it flagged up as you’ve just said, what do people now want from the media and health broadcasting has completely summarized what people really want. You know, they want information. They want to be reassured. They want to be informed. They want to be, you know, educated. And that’s why, you know, any, you know, fellow broadcaster, a news journalist around health and the farmer, that’s what people have always wanted.
Annie Voller (07:09): And one thing I have found, cause I I’ve done a lot of work with farmers. You know, the speaking, the hosting, the symposium, you know, everything up and, but farmers have never, ever been as widely promoted or known by their names, the work that they do, how they do it. And now, you know, everyone who’s been jabbed can say the name of the pharmaceutical company, you know, you can say, oh yes, I had the jabbed by Pfizer or AstraZeneca or whatever it may be that hasn’t ever been the case. You know, previously, so farmers are now, you know, speaking as a health journalist and health broadcaster, they’re in a brilliant position now to inform, educate, you know, and really work with people I think more so than ever before. I mean, you know, in a way the farmers have become almost, you know, the rock stars of the health world, that’s what they are, you know, they’re known by their name, you know, the Beyonces, the, you know, the Gar Girls or whatever it is. And that’s, what’s happened with health broadcasting and reassuring, educating, informing, giving truth as well and never, and I think that’s what people want from media nowadays. Don’t they and health media in particular.
Maria Franzoni (08:40): I totally agree with you. I would like to ask your opinion actually, as an insider, do you think that the media’s been successful in reassuring and in the audience wanting information? Do you think they’ve done a good job?
Annie Voller (08:52): Yes, I do actually, because it’s been a breaking new story that’s been going on for a year and a half. I mean the most, most stories like, you know, any of the conflicts that I’ve covered or, you know, any story that you have in the media, it has a finite amount of time really doesn’t it? And, you know, you report on it, you have breaking, you know, stories develop, but with health broadcasting, particularly during the pandemic, it’s never been more important to educate, inform, but also really give the human stories behind this because let’s face it everyone to some degree or another has been affected, whether it’s a jab, whether it’s you’ve succumb to COVID yourself, or now we’re looking at the long COVID stories and just in the news today, the effects on younger people and long COVID. So the health agenda is very much an ongoing story. So going back to your question, I believe that yes, they have done a good job, but I think in the future, all the aspects around COVID will be looked at closely, media, pharma, health, government, and that’s responsibility that you have, you know, to report, to educate, you know, to interact and reassure people. Yeah. So I answer your questions. Yeah. I do believe that’s done, but who knows how the future will judge us.
Maria Franzoni (10:32): Yeah. And of course you’d have to keep improving. Right. So you can never be satisfied with what you’ve achieved gotta keep working.
Annie Voller (10:37): Oh, no, no, there’s another story that’s, you know, just around the corner. So yeah, and to be able to work in it and to be associated with health has actually been an amazing set, you know, a real kind of career high for me as well, actually.
Maria Franzoni (10:55): Fantastic. I mean, that’s all really positive, but you must have done as a presenter. You must have faced some challenges during COVID, with your role, are you able to share anything that you’ve faced in your work?
Annie Voller (11:08): Yes. I mean much like us now, for example, how we had moved away from, you know, the straightforward student setting, for example, you know, with the camera, with the presenters speaking there one and again, yeah. I still think it’s a great thing that we have now embraced new ways of working new technology. And I personally hope that moving forward, because one thing that this kind of close, literally, you know, seeing the whites of your eyes and somebody’s home and everything. One thing it has shown again, is a personal side to people. You know, we’ve all seen the shots where high powered people or whatever got their caps, like tapping along the keyboard or, you know, like bonkers things are going on. So I think technology has thrown up some challenges, but if we can continue, you know, using these interactions, these meetings as a way to find out more about someone, you know, being more personal, being more real, be more authentic then personally, I think that will be a really good thing that will have come out of the changes, the new ways of working.
Annie Voller (12:33): And do you think so? Do you, would you agree with that? Yeah.
Maria Franzoni (12:37): I’ll tell you what’s happened for us for sure. Is that you connect with people that you probably wouldn’t have done before on different time zones whenever you want to, you can do you, you know, there’s no limits now. In some, some ways you’re working probably harder because you can speak to people in different time zones. But I actually, Yeah, I quite like the fact that you see people on a screen rather than just being on a telephone. Yeah, it does require more visits for hairdressers of course.
Maria Franzoni (13:06): But there’s nothing wrong with that.
Annie Voller (13:07): With all the frowning and God knows what else, you know, I constantly looking down.
Maria Franzoni (13:12): Oh my goodness. Yeah. Yep, absolutely.
Maria Franzoni (13:14): Yes, so I think, I think it’s good and I think it will carry on. I think it’s been a lot of advantages. I mean, you know, there’s lots of challenges with technology, lots of learning and it will, it’ll keep getting better. I keep getting better. Of course.
Annie Voller (13:26): Yeah.
Maria Franzoni (13:27): Tell me, Annie, have you adapted your presenting style, your presentations much and how if you have?
Annie Voller (13:34): Yeah. Yes, I have, I mean, one of the, a couple of new areas that have, that have been, you know, it’s thrown up for me as a presenter, host, facilitator has been that I’ve been in the lucky position where I’ve actually been, and had the pleasure of working on some really big hybrid events now previously, like, you know, all the projects that you are involved with, you know, you have an event, you have a speaker, they turn up, they say their speech and in some ways, even on the biggest grandest events, it was still, you still needed the interaction, you know, and you may have got that previously, you know, by touching an iPad or whatever. But, I have done some events, in the defense and the military sector as well, really big hybrid high profile hybrid event.
Annie Voller (14:31): And also you see being brought in at the beginning of an event, it means that you can offer so much more than just being the presenter. I shouldn’t say that, but who just turns up with the script and they say, oh, okay, can you do a bit of research when you are brought in at the beginning of a project as a presenter, you know, with writing skills, with, you know, media skills, it means that you can offer so much more to a client. So the work and the project, the big, you know, international kind of hybrid events that I’ve done in defense, BAE System team, Tempest, another one with Shell and Deloitte. And it’s interesting, interesting what you say, because certainly with Shell and Deloitte, they never, would’ve had the resources and allowed employees the time to take the time off to go to a big event.
Annie Voller (15:37): It just wouldn’t have been feasible really, you know, and we’re both aware of that, you know, through our different roles. So both Shell and Deloitte, for example, for the first time ever, they were actually able to assemble all of their employees. So that’s like hundreds and hundreds of people and they could all be there at an event. They could all be interacting. They can all see face to face their colleagues. They don’t have to wait for that one day a year that they may, or they may not go to the event on, and that’s something that’s really, that’s really thrown up and the opportunities that I’ve been, you know, working on for new sectors and very large clients who are actually taking advantage of that. I mean, do you think personally that that’s something that will continue?
Maria Franzoni (16:34): Absolutely. And I think because it’s such a positive, you know, the opportunity to have everybody together, as you said, which rarely would happen. And so that everybody’s getting the same message, everybody’s feeling the same. No one’s feeling left out that I think we need it more and more because people having been working remotely and some still are, you need that feeling of being part of something. You need that communication. I totally, totally agree with you, but you’ve actually written about this as well. Haven’t you, can you tell us a little bit about the piece you wrote?
Annie Voller (17:05): Yes. Yes. Well, I wrote two, features actually, because, you know, they were both in kind of lockdown features. So one was actually, embracing and talking and discussing from a technical and a production point of view about broadcasting and presenting from both sides of it actually being a presenter, but also how a client, a corporate client may actually, you know, utilize this. You know, through my own experiences, not only as a broadcaster, but as I said, through being in a lucky position to work with such large companies. So it was talking about how you can use technology, for example, I mean, something that was, you know, again, in the future, we we’ll laugh and, you know, whatever we’ll think about this time, from, you know, an employability and technical point of view, but in the very beginning, for example, of events we were using, like kind of glass floors, so you would work on, you would walk onto this virtual stage with everything that was going on and the technology and everything, but it was absolutely the scariest thing you’ve ever done.
Annie Voller (18:25): So cause you’re walking around in high heels, on a glass floor, presenting, talking, moving, and everything else. And you always in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, oh my goodness, am I gonna be like falling over? And you’ve got this massive event, you know, high profile of things. So that was just one aspect of it, really. So it’s, you know, how you interact with all the different technology. How do you do it? And again, for clients, how can they make the most of it? So the feature was around being a presenter, but also talking about the technology, how it’s done, how it’s utilized and why a client, you know, should actually get involved with doing it. You know, what are the pitfalls? What are the advantages? So that was around the feature that I wrote. And I guess the other one was, although it seems while ago now, the International Women’s Day as well.
Maria Franzoni (19:30): Oh, you’ve tell us about that actually, because you mentioned earlier that you feel that there are not enough women in broadcasting, in fact, not enough women everywhere. I mean there’s enough women in the world, but we don’t seem to be appearing in all the right places. Tell us about the, that piece for International Women’s Day.
Annie Voller (19:44): Yeah. Well. Thank you very much for bringing that up actually, Maria. Yeah, it was to talk, women are in television and it’s great to see saying that it’s great to see more women of various ages and different looks and styles and everything else. But women aren’t represented in radio. And I think personally there’s a number of reasons why that is the case and I wanted to increase. So it’s what I really wanted to get a lot more women interested having a voice, using their voice and broad, maybe not so much, you know, judged on your looks for example, but on what you say and how you say it. And so that’s one of the things that I’m very strong in promoting more women and increasing diversity. So it has been, yeah, it has been very interesting actually.
Maria Franzoni (20:46): And that’s fascinating actually, because the whole point about looks, you don’t, you know, I’ve got a great face for radio. People say that don’t, they you’ve got a good face for radio. Cause it means they don’t see you, right? They hear your voice. So surely it should be. I’m curious to hear from you what you think the challenges are for women in radio and why they’re not, because it’s a voice it’s not about what you look like, is it?
Annie Voller (21:09): No, it’s not, but through my own kind of research and understanding and you know, being a broadcast journalist and where I saw the gaps in the market for wanting a better world, it’s because from a very young age, even kind of going back to school really. Girls are not encouraged like in a typical classroom, for example. And I wrote about this as well. So I, you know, undertook some research if boys and girls are equally speaking in a class, the boy, you know, the young boy, man, young man, whatever will actually be freely speaking, but in a lot of situations, the girl, the young lady or whatever who’s actually speaking is overtalked by the boy. And she will actually be encouraged to put her hand up to speak. Whereas the boy, and this is kind of backed up by a lot of research. So from a young age, you, as a girl, you are not really encouraged to use that voice and women speaking, for example, you know, that there’s been lots of research on men and women in a meeting sort of situation, whatever the, you know, whatever the setup is. And if a woman actually speaks exactly the same time, the same amount as a man, it’s assumed that she’s talking more than the man is. And yet you can say, look, we’ve got the stopwatch kind of thing.
Maria Franzoni (22:45): That’s interesting. Cause of course we have heard that in the media, not that long ago from our colleagues in Japan that women talk too much apparently. And it’s interesting, we say only 25% of professional speakers are women, which is sad and in some markets is worse than that. That’s the average globally. And the other thing I wrote down while you were saying, talking about, because it resonates so much, most questions asked at conferences are actually asked by men of the speakers.
Annie Voller (23:14): Yes.
Maria Franzoni (23:14): I remember Gary V was doing a keynote speech and he specifically said, I want the first question to be from a woman because he understood that then more women would be prepared to put their hands up. So it’s a huge topic, huge topic there. So, but I’m sure that’s not probably what clients are bringing you in though, to help them with. And you touched on it a little bit earlier about what you do. Tell us what you do for clients when they book you? The whole process from beginning to end, how can you help them?
Annie Voller (23:45): Okay. I mean, I have a number of areas of expertise as a keynote speaker, as a broadcaster and facilitator. So a client may say, for example, you know, we would like Annie to, because she’s been, you know, a health broadcaster, we would like her to be involved with our health events or symposium or whatever it is or round table. So it’s using a mixture really of broadcast skills, but also tangible health broadcasting, you know, expertise and particularly, you know, during the COVID and the pandemic reporting as well. I think I’m, you know, very well qualified to give briefings every day, you know, kind of thing. So as a, to book me, I will work very much at the very beginning of the project, understanding exactly what a client wants to achieve. What would really like from their host moderator speaker?
Annie Voller (24:49): Do you, you know, would you like someone who, you know, not only offers expertise, but can also, you know, guide managing situations, can you ask the questions that you would like us, but aren’t being answered. So you can, you know, you can work very much with that. So it’s the whole kind of gamut really, you know, much like our interview today, you did your research. I did mine and, you know, we’ve kind of met in, in the middle really to create, you know, a broadcast, which has, you know, goals for both of us. So to work, with myself, for example, I can, you know, deal with all aspects of this. I come from a broadcasting background. I also do media and, you know, different communications training. So I can even work with the speakers, for example, to get the best from them.
Annie Voller (25:51): And so it’s, you know, it’s a win-win from everyone and it’s great to be at the beginning of a project. Really, isn’t it? I mean, it’s the ideal situation because then you can really understand what somebody really wants from their, you know, from their speaker, host, keynote, facilitator. Because sometimes you can, they just say, okay, here’s your script. If someone wants you to do that, that’s absolutely brilliant. But there’s so much more that a professional presenter, host and facilitator can bring to the party. And it, and I think it’s just a case of, you know, being frank and, you know, I’d like to think I’m a fairly open, warm approach, you know, approachable person. So you can just do, you know, so much that a client would really like to achieve, with their events or conference or, you know, whatever it may be.
Maria Franzoni (26:59): Yeah. Brilliant. And I’m surprised how many people don’t bring in a professional experience host to facilitate their conferences when they spend so much money on a conference. And then they skim because the difference between having a professional, it’s like a professionally run, you know, TV event in a way, isn’t it. When you’ve got somebody who really understands what the audience is experiencing and what I also love about what you’re saying is you work as a member of the team, you come on board as part of the team to make them succeed from the beginning, all the way through to the end you are with them. And not as you said, not all presenters do that, but not all of them are allowed to do that. So I’m glad that you encourage clients to do that. And I would say to all clients out there bring you in early. Yeah.
Annie Voller (27:43): Yeah. Very, very much. So you can, you can just get so much more from your effectively your talent, really. I guess that’s probably the best way to describe it, cause that’s certainly what you are called in the media, for example. And it’s just saying, you know, what would you really like to achieve from this? You know, and as I said in the beginning, you know, we are talking now about zoom meetings, for example, how to capitalize and get that interaction, get that buy-in from your audience, whatever your goals are, because previously it will have been a very, very standard, presenter comes on, everybody says their speech and everything else walks off the interaction with the audience may be as time moved on, you know, pressing your iPad or, you know, the hashtag and everything. But now what’s been proved by technology.
Annie Voller (28:44): is that I think people want more authenticity. They want to find out more. They want that interaction. You know, we use so much of it in every aspect of our lives, you know, online shopping, gaming technology, it’s all about personalization. And you know, that, that personal relationship and making someone feel special and involved, and that is what I think events should be for the future. Moving forward. It should be a, it can be a different model that is more human. It’s more dynamic, it’s more interactive, it’s more personal. And I’m not saying, you know, you could do that with every presenter or, you know, whatever the goals are, but for a client that is what people want. You know, that, that’s what I think the future will be now. And certainly, you know, working with myself as a broadcaster and through my experience of, you know, broadcasting and, you know, current, current, current, current skills and what people want, but that’s what, you know, that’s what you can achieve. And that’s what I think is kind of different and that will be the future or could be the future of events really. Do you think so, perhaps?
Maria Franzoni (30:14): Annie, I hope so because it sounds very exciting to me. So thank you. Thank you so much for spending some time with us, and sharing a little bit of your expertise and wisdom on events. Really appreciate it. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself.
Annie Voller (30:27): Oh, it’s been wonderful to talk to you, Maria. And thank you very much. I’ve loved this opportunity as well.
Maria Franzoni (30:33): Super. And if you have enjoyed listening to The Speaker Show, please make sure that you rate it on Apple Podcasts. Keep up with future episode on Speakers Associates website, that’s (speakersassociates.com) or on your favorite podcast app. And if you need Annie’s help in your organization, be sure to contact Speakers Associates in time to book her for your next event. Make sure you get her in early. Thanks so much. See you next week. And bye bye for now.
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Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.
As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.