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21 Jul

The client conference call: what consultants, trainers & thought leaders may be doing wrong–and how to fix it

Synopsis: How are we perceived by listeners—say, our clients—on the other end of conference calls? How do we show up and make impressions—indelible first impressions—on those who make our livings possible? In my work, I participate in countless speaker-client calls, and this post is born from that experience. >>>>>> If you’re a consultant, trainer, or thought leader who schedules conference calls to strategize live events or meetings with larger audiences, you well know the importance of delivering content from your clients’ points of view. What you may not fully appreciate is that customers are listening long before you step into the larger spotlight—during preparatory conference calls. As the owner of a speaking agency for nearly two decades, I often participate in calls between clients and speakers. Why take the time? Because these conversations offer a treasure trove of back-door R&D. And they provide crucial windows through which I learn more about client culture, needs, team dynamics, and pain points. I listen for both what’s at stake at the pending meeting—and for future needs. As a result, I have a front-row seat to these client-speaker exchanges. And I gotta tell you: too many miss the opportunity to shine here, on the…

02 Jun

How to get behind the scenes of TED conference design

Unless you’ve just returned from a 5-year sabbatical in a remote section of the Amazon jungle, you’re likely familiar with TED talks. And you may have a few favorites. Indeed, TED—with all its innovation and captivation—has taken the world by storm. I attended my first TED event—TEDxRainier in Seattle—6 years ago. Since then, I’ve been to nearly a dozen different TED-branded events, helped organize 5, and will gleefully attend TEDSummit next month in Banff. When with fellow TEDsters, I am at my most alive. Surrounded by fresh ideas, other people committed to giving those ideas the light of day, and the means to turn these ideas into new realities that make the world better. I can think of few more meaningful and engaging ways to spend time. That’s in great part why I developed and deliver a live workshop to help meeting professionals get behind the scenes of TED events to integrate TED-style elements to make their gatherings more captivating and unmissable. It’s called 5 Actionable Conference Design Insights from TED Events, and it’s an interactive, experiential workshop. Through the end of next year, I’m available in most regions of the US, Canada and Mexico to present this content at…

16 May

5 Fresh Ways to Build Buzz & Engagement in your Next Meeting

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster Magical thinking, as illustrated here, is just that. But wouldn’t you rather aim for practical thinking over magical thinking?! After all, a fresh idea that’s well executed can transform attendees’ and the hosts’ experiences. And it can further position your meeting as cutting edge and unmissable. To that end, here are 5 new ways to inject innovation and impact for your participants—and even generate more revenue for your organization. 1-Help Shiny Objects Shine Brighter Handheld electronic devices in the hands of many meeting goers often distract others who are trying to focus on the meeting experience. When some audience members just HAVE to be consistently online during a conference, reserve them a special spot in the meeting room where their screens and efforts won’t bother colleagues. At TEDxSeattle, we place self-identified attendee bloggers, for example, in box seats in our theatre. A roped off area at the back works just as well. Bottom line? Be service driven and intentional, and everyone’s happy. 2-Meet Beyond the Ballroom When you’re hungry for a change of scenery and looking for an unusual, affordable venue, check out www.PeerSpace.com. You might think of it as an Airbnb for meeting…

01 Feb

Dive into Immersive Learning: A Primer for Meeting Professionals

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster Watching a child explore. Rock climbing. Sitting before a campfire. Spending time with our favorite humans—and pets. Playing a game. When we have these experiences, distractions fall away. We’re fully focused and in the now. We’ve reached that happy place positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.” Yet in our increasingly distracted world, flow has never been harder to achieve. According to Porter Stowell, who heads up IBM’s serious games initiatives, 66% of workers are overwhelmed, he explained, citing a 2014 Deloitte study of global human capital trends. As meeting professionals, we stand at the forefront of distractions, because human’s collective state of disengagement is ever present in meetings. No matter how hard we try, some audience members will not be paying attention to what we’ve worked so hard for them to experience—the event itself. For over two decades, I’ve made it my business to boost engagement in meetings. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to get and keep meeting goers’ attention. So when I began hearing about immersive learning and how it holds great promise to combat distraction…well, I got rather immersed in it. Immersing in Immersion Let’s begin with a working definition….

30 Dec

Why Event Sponsorships Should Never be about Sponsors

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster Budgets are top of mind this time of year, so let’s focus on how to make yours go further. The TED brand and its range of live and virtual events have taken the world by storm. As a TED-head who’s a student and practitioner of TED-branded events, I’ll focus here on what my TED experiences teach us about designing sponsor experiences through a decidedly different lens. I’m deeply involved with audience experience design, speaker curation and sponsor (AKA partner) acquisition for a large TEDx Event, TEDxSeattle (previously TEDxRainier). And I attended TEDActive (the event that happens concurrently with TED) in British Columbia. This collective experience has opened my eyes to the power of turning the tables on how sponsors are courted and integrated into an event’s design. Just as the most successful meetings are much less about speakers on stage and much more about participants in the audience, effectively curated and nurtured sponsorships should be ever-so-much-less about the sponsors and oh-so-much-more about the potential customers they want to engage. So if your events or tradeshows rely on sponsors, you can drastically improve both how meeting goers engage with sponsors and improve the results the…