Speakers & Schools: How to coordinate an fireside chat format for your next talk

12 September 2019

As more and more speakers and schools are coordinating fireside chats for their S4S talks, we wanted to be sure to share some top tips and best practice!

When speakers and schools are introduced to one another over email, it is important to discuss the chosen format for the talk. If the speaker would prefer an interview format you should first confirm if the questions should be pre-agreed or if the speaker is happy to take questions on the day. Do also confirm if the speaker is happy to then take questions from the audience.

A teacher should introduce the speaker and then a teacher or confident student should ask the questions. Below are some general questions that could be used as a suggestion – these are particularly useful for Life Lessons and Industry Working themes but can be translated to other themes. See more about talk themes and content in our Speaker Guides here.

What are the benefits of an interview/fireside chat format?

The format may seem more informal for students as opposed to a talk, as the format is conversational. Students may be encouraged to ask questions themselves if they see the speaker is able to answer questions. When using open ended questions, you can also open up the talk to go in different directions, rather than follow a set structure of a talk.

By choosing a student or students to chair the interview it may also encourage other students to participate and could give students more ownership of the talk.

Life lessons and advice for a year 10 audience (feel free to amend according to different age groups):

  1. What is your role and what do you do?
  2. How has your career changed over the years?
  3. What obstacles did you face and how have you learned from them?
  4. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
  5. How has your current sector changed over the years?
  6. What skills are needed for your current role and what skills have you developed over time?
  7. Why did you pursue a career in your sector?
  8. What skills do you look for in young people when you are considering hiring?
  9. What did you want to be when you were younger?
  10. Why do you think it is important for young people to have an interest in your field of work?

Industry Insights for a year 10 audience (feel free to amend according to different age groups):

  1. What is your role and what do you do?
  2. Why did you choose to pursue a role in this sector?
  3. What are the challenges of your role?
  4. What are the highlights of your role?
  5. How has your sector changed over the years?
  6. Where do you see the future of this sector?
  7. What opportunities are there for young people in your sector?
  8. What advice would you give young people who are interested in going in to your sector?
  9. Where do you see the future of this sector?
  10. If you were not in your current role, what role would you want to have? What did you want to be when you are at school?

Don’t forget to check out our other planning materials including Student Q+A Prep Sheets, On the Day Hosting and Student Feedback Forms here.