Change Management | The Human Element with Keynote Speaker Anna Maria Tremonti

How do you approach change? It’s one of the most requested keynote topics for audiences around the world and with good reason. Organizational change is hard. It’s happening faster and more frequently. Event planners are constantly being asked to help equip teams with the tools to effectively manage complex change.

Keynote speaker, Anna Maria Tremonti, has spent her whole life covering change. From changes in politics, to changes in guests’ personal lives, to the collapse of nations, she’s been at the frontlines of change.

As a journalist, she’s reported from the war in Bosnia, Germany during the fall of communism, and Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Change has also affected her on a personal level. After 17 years with CBC’s The Current, Canada’s most listened-to radio program, Anna Maria decided to implement change in her career by producing and hosting a podcast series. 

Being so close to change has allowed her to draw out some fascinating insights on the topic. You could say that Anna Maria gravitates towards change. She has not only documented and chronicled change but, most importantly, she has witnessed how people adapt and cope with it.

New Keynote on Change Management

Anna Maria’s brand new keynote talk Change & Resilience draws on her experiences to show the human side of change. Partly introspective, partly discovery, this keynote presentation helps audiences cultivate a ‘change-ready’ mindset that can be applied on an organization or personal level. 

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Change Thinking

Change & Decision Paralysis

One of the biggest obstacles in overcoming change is the act of getting started with your action. Nobody likes to make the wrong decision. This is where being informed on the subject is key. Asking questions and assessing potential outcomes are some of the best ways to build up your knowledge.

The problem most people face here is letting these questions get in the way of what’s important in the task at hand. 

Anna Maria uses the example of examining new situations or surroundings – a new workplace, city, or experience – especially if it’s a challenging one. This will often include assessing potential risks around you. The problem Anna Maria noticed was that this assessment process was all-encompassing. The more she thought about it, the more she understood potential risks were everywhere. If she tried to mitigate every single one of these risks, she wouldn’t be able to get her job done. So Anna Maria did some reflecting and made a promise to herself: to never be afraid in the abstract.

Don’t let change paralyze you. There are many people who focus on the ‘what if?
These type of people have imaginations that can run wild in assessing potential risks. The truth is that these rarely materialize.

What’s Anna Maria’s advice?

Talk yourself through the risks to identify the real concerns. Doing this allowed her to work in a warzone (Bosnia) for over three years while concentrating on her job at hand, a responsibility that truly mattered: reporting on what’s happening to other people. 

Change of Berlin Wall

Not Everybody Wants the Change We Think They Deserve

Often, change can be spoken to by those who are already experienced on one side of the outcome. But applying your experiences to someone else’s situation can often lead to unexpected outcomes. Anna Maria uses the example of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the epicenter for the fall of communism, where east met west. The change happened fast. Senior East German Official Guenter Schabowski abruptly announced the opening of the Wall at the end of a press conference on November 9, 1989. Just like that, a massive change was set in motion for both societies as reunification took hold. 

Witnessing this change first-hand, Anna Maria learned two key lessons:
1 ) Not everybody wants the change we think they deserve
2 ) Not everybody wants the change they think they want

Change can be exciting, but when the reality of a situation sets in and rules of the game change, not everybody will be happy with the outcome. In post-communist Germany, issues ranged from obsolete jobs to a dependence on others. Unemployment for those formerly under soviet control ran high. The West had to support many of the newly integrated citizens who had less.

Abrupt change impacts people the hardest. Even change that is perceived as good for us or change that will bring great opportunity can be painful. When sudden changes hit, some can feel they may not matter. They can feel threatened. They experience unease. They want to bring back the certainty of the past. 

Think about an organization that wants to grow from 5 to 50 or one that is undergoing a merger. Along with excitement – people can be afraid. They want to be valued contributors but may think they might not matter or be able to bring as much to the table. 

That said, there’s an unexpected benefit to change: others will step up and fill voids. New situations mean new skills are needed. New ideas are needed. The change will often spark a growth mindset within members of your team as they see the opportunity to learn and master the skills needed for the future of your business. 

Tracking change over time

Tracking Change Over Time

Journalists have a skill set that really helps bring the most important issues to the forefront. They are able to connect the dots and ask questions so that their audience can follow along to gauge whether something is real and substantial.

Anna Maria encourages audiences to mirror what journalists do and apply it to your organizational change. A big part of this comes from paying attention to the sources of information on an issue.
• Ask yourself, who is asking the informed questions?
• Look at those sources who offer analysis rather than opinions. Opinions tend to lack information or knowledge backing it up.

This helps you identify the reality of the situation and set the groundwork for assessing where things are likely to go. You’ll get a clearer picture on where are things trending and what pitfalls you should watch out for with this change. All this leads to a more informed assessment of the best possible outcomes.

A Heartbeat in Every Story of Change

Core to Anna Maria’s insights on change is the people behind the change. How does it affect your colleagues or yourself? We’re not alone in it. We can do it together:


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