Touchstone Events: 7 Steps to Impact Grand Challenges

I am event-driven. I believe bringing people together has the most potential for creating the capability and building the bonds that enable social movements – critical to successful Grand Challenges – to take place. Despite this potential, many corporate events and conferences miss the mark, offering carnival-like atmospheres when you need a profoundly moving and inspirational level change that brings your audience to a new standard of participation and performance; this is what  Touchstone Events do.

The original touchstone was basanite; a smooth black stone used to test the authenticity of gold and silver. Dragging an element across the stone left a colored streak that indicated a metal’s authenticity. Hence, the term touchstone.

Today, a Touchstone Event allows people to test the authenticity of what they’re doing, seeing, and hearing. These events require a tolerance for people to ask questions, provoke, probe, and understand the message and goals you’re trying to convey.

Touchstone events have been critical to my work with Association and corporate leaders on their change initiatives. I’ve identified seven steps to creating an impactful experience:

  1. Know and engage your audience
  2. Embrace current perceptions
  3. Spring to a new state
  4. Open with impact
  5. Tell your story
  6. Place the audience in your story
  7. Close with impact

Watch the video to learn:

  • Why it’s essential to understand the concerns of your audience and engage them
  • How to leverage obstacles and skepticism to inspire action
  • What ten years of street theater taught me about grabbing attention
  • How to use storytelling and why it’s critical to place your audience in that story
  • The importance of an impactful close

Are you planning a Grand Challenge or other large-scale change initiative? You’re missing a critical step if you haven’t included a touchstone event. To learn more, email me at

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