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From Scrolling Phones to Standing Ovations: Reimagining Event Content with Spoken Storytelling

Updated: Feb 13

Goalclick Heard event

Asking someone about attending a sports conference or event often generates a knowing laugh and this type of comment...

“A bunfight.”

“The content was really bad.”

“Only worth going to see some old friends.”

“I didn’t actually go to any of the sessions.”

Too often the default of a panel Q&A or “fireside chat” sees half of the audience scrolling on their phones, the rest eyeing the coffee and croissants, or waiting for the networking break to start.

The panel itself will see everyone agreeing without any real debate, disagreement, or challenge to

the status quo perspective. Unless it’s an Unofficial Partner brainstorm!

The networking sees far too many conversations started with none allowed to end. We fight to grab

two sentences of conversation before being interrupted.

We leave it to chance to see who meets who. Or rely on having the confidence to introduce

ourselves to a stranger wearing a tiny name badge we cannot read.

This might sound very familiar. We have all been there!

But here’s the thing. I love going to (good) events and love (good) networking.

Goalclick Heard event

Reimagining Event-based Content

So how can we reimagine the content at these events? Is there room for adding some fresh thinking?

As storytelling experts, Goal Click uses multiple formats, including written word, film photography,

and video. But we are always looking for new and creative ways to bring first-person perspectives to

a new audience.

Outside of sport, there has been a growth in popularity of spoken storytelling events (and podcasts).

No, we are not talking about talks or lectures like TED or heavily prepared professional spoken word

readings. We are talking about real and raw first-person storytelling.

Enter Goal Click Heard.

In late 2023, Goal Click teamed up with Heard Storytelling to create our first ever Goal Click Heard

live spoken storytelling event. It took place in Miami with Art Basel FC, a four-day football event

timed to coincide with the world-renowned annual art festival.

Five inspiring individuals from the football community. Seven minutes each. One microphone. No

props. Telling their personal stories to a live audience. Real, raw, true, and powerful.

No one was scrolling on their phone.

But this does not just ‘happen’.

We spent a month identifying the storytellers from the Miami football community. They all went through a series of workshops and rehearsals to prepare for their seven-minute story.

The magic continues after the stories are performed. The audience is invited to write and share

messages with the storytellers. And the audience themselves then connect with those around them.

Everyone feels involved. Powerful content. Real conversations. Meaningful connections.

The Power of the Spoken Word

So why is this relevant to brands and organisations in the sports industry?

Creating a live spoken storytelling event solves many challenges in a world of distraction, short attention spans, and content overload.

1) At the most basic level, people simply have a better time at events, conferences, exhibitions, or in

hospitality suites if there is some powerful, engaging, and truly memorable content.

2) First person storytelling creates a more emotional connection with audiences, either in-person or

when published on digital channels.

3) This type of truthful storytelling attracts a younger and more diverse audience, who can be turned

off by the content and energy of more traditional, corporate events.

4) Handing over control of the narrative can tell the story of your organisation or brand in a more

impactful way. The traditional method of storytelling is to talk ABOUT people and the opportunities

or experiences created for them. But it is far more powerful to hear FROM those who can advocate

for you based on their lived experience.

Ask yourself, do you want to only hear from a Brand Manager or Head of Marketing talking about a

campaign? Or would you also like to hear from the player, fan, coach, or activist who experienced

the impact first-hand?

We all want to come away from events with a spring in our step. For too long the content at sport

industry events has been on autopilot and following a similar formula.

So next time you are creating an event, conference, or experience for your fans and stakeholders,

can you step away from the default setting?

Is there room for some first-person spoken storytelling alongside your regular itinerary?

We hope there is. The coffee and croissants can wait.

Matthew Barrett is Founder and CEO of Goal Click - experts in original sports storytelling content, curated through a global storyteller community that provides unique first-person perspectives.

Over 500 stories have been shared from the Goal Click network for the likes of adidas, The Premier

League, Concacaf, EE, and UEFA. To find out more visit


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