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Category: Event Marketing

05 Jan

What if attendees remember nothing from your meetings?

Andrea Driessen is Chief Boredom Buster for No More Boring Meetings in Seattle, Washington. © Andrea Driessen 2017 Given the amount of time we spend surrounded by computers—at work, at home, during commutes and yes, in meetings—it’s natural to think we humans are a lot like Pentium chips. We believe we can keep adding data and everything will be automatically saved on the “hard drives” in our heads. If only. While the human brain is indeed powerful, it is not capable of remembering—much less recalling—all we try to cram into it. The meetings world is particularly vulnerable to this overload. Let’s take a closer look at what happens to our minds in meetings, explore how to boost recall and memory, and in the process, the impact of all our events. Most meetings are often overloaded with so much material that learning may be hurt more than it’s enhanced. In fact, attendees may not remember anything from our meetings. What do you remember from the last meeting you attended? If you recall only one element of this article, may it be this: Less is more. As Jeff Hurt, EVP of education and engagement at conference consultancy Velvet Chainsaw, explains: “Forgetting is…

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…

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…

02 Dec

Why Meetings Should be More Like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

By Heather Pelletier, Engagement Unlimited, Vancouver, BC, © 2015 First let me openly confess…I love Jimmy Fallon. I want to be his friend. Who doesn’t? He’s the best! Over two years ago, Fallon took over The Tonight Show (AKA Late Night) and what a difference! The picture below is a great example of this transformation. THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON — Episode 0062 — Pictured: (l-r) Actress Charlize Theron, announcer Steve Higgins, host Jimmy Fallon and actor Josh Hartnett play charades on May 20, 2014 — (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) A Justin-Jimmy duet was just the beginning. The show has been viewed over 2 billion times on YouTube, and has had a 41% ratings increase in the ages 18-49 demographic. What has changed? Musical comedy interwoven throughout Game Playing Incorporation of technology A skilled host. Fallon has created a new formula for success in late night TV. It includes showcasing guests’ talents, integrating social media, not taking himself too seriously, trying new things, and most importantly having lots of fun. My TV bestie is not just talented—he’s also playful, positive, charming, witty, and makes others around him feel relaxed so they can just be…

23 Mar

The UN-Fam Fam: How a “Discovery Tour” goes beyond showing off a property to educate and inspire

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster As a meeting planner, you well know the value of seeing a meeting venue in person before contracting space. Yet with so much on your plate, can you really justify being out of the office for a day or more to visit on a fam (familiarization) tour? And as virtual reality tools begin to make visiting from our desks just about as real as visiting in person, I believe the fam tour must evolve. To stay ahead of the curve, the team at Suncadia Resort near Seattle decided to elevate the experience of the traditional “fam” tour and turn it into a content-driven, experiential Discovery Tour. –> Or what we can call the Unfam Fam. Sure, everyone had the chance to walk the luscious grounds, tour the meeting and sleeping rooms, dine on deliciousness and savor a short spa treatment. Additionally, planners gained insights on designing more productive, less-boring, and more active meetings that address the whole person: body, mind and spirit. They interacted with content and co-created ideas for staging more effective events in meeting spaces of the quality and scope offered by a location like Suncadia. That’s in part because the Suncadia…

20 Jan

No Joke: Humor as a Powerful Engagement Tool

What if you could add just one item to your meeting tool kit and…boost learning, attention, trust, energy, adaptability, memory, collaboration, optimism, circulation, and lifespan; lessen fear, stress and resistance to change; and help build safer, more inclusive communities? You’d hold in your hot little hands the Swiss army knife of meeting tools, wouldn’t you? But what could possibly do all that? Humor, my friend. Humor. Think I’m joking? Ask the researchers. Ask successful meeting planners who make a habit of incorporating humor into their events. Or just read on. “Humor” in this context refers to thoughtful, strategic content that engages audiences on an emotional level and makes them laugh because it surprises and delights—in relevant, contextual ways. It’s not on par with comedic joke-telling, which is pure entertainment with no take-away value. Indeed, the capacity of well-placed humor to improve meetings is no laughing matter. For starters, “Emotion drives attention and attention drives learning,” found Robert Sylwester, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon. Further, according to the nonprofit Information Age Education (IAE), humor increases memory and long-term retrieval, and can capture the attention of people who are easily bored and inattentive. It helps us be more…

02 Dec

Mind This: Big Risk, Big Payoff for a Nonprofit

  (The content of this post complements the previous one on risk) Risk taking can be even more difficult when a nonprofit’s viability is on the line. Gilda’s Club Seattle took a big risk in how they solicited funds from prospective donors. They mailed invitations describing their upcoming fundraising ball: promising a 10-course dinner and a Champagne fountain! The inside read: “Never mind (a homage to Gilda’s own memorable line from Saturday Night Live)….We’re really not the type to throw a fancy party.” Instead, this organization—committed to supporting all aspects of cancer research and care—asked for direct donations in lieu of black-tie attendance. Risky for sure. And yet it generated a net GAIN, according to Anna Gottlieb, executive director of the organization. At one point, 68% of Gilda’s Club revenues were generated from events. They also ultimately eliminated an auction and other gatherings, which lessened marketing, event and staffing costs, yet didn’t affect the bottom line. The group’s new strategy “gives us more time to fulfill our mission and to get the services we provide into more communities,” Gottlieb said. “It all takes dollars, but I think our dollars are better spent on our programs that have direct impact on…

12 Nov

The Risk in Not Risking

Despite the discomfort, for meetings to positively change, WE need to change.   Copyright 2014, Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster Image courtesy of Meeting Professionals Int’l The meetings industry tends to view risk as a liability. We have (and need!) complex contractual clauses that address indemnity, force majeure and liability. We use carefully crafted check lists so meetings run perfectly. After all, who wants to risk it? Then we invite imperfect, novelty-seeking, easily bored guests whose input we can’t control; people who crave surprise, creativity and the extraordinary. We know eliciting change is an imperfect science at best. So how do we navigate the gap between staging safe, legal, well-run events—and designing live experiences that leave audiences changed and inspired? Putting aside insurable risk for a bit, let’s hear from planners who stuck their necks out with thoughtful event risks, and generated more value and impact. There’s an inherent—and crucial—boldness in trying something new and not knowing, for certain, whether it’ll work. For meetings to change positively, we need to change. And change doesn’t happen in the middle. It happens on the edge, where—frankly—it’s uncomfortable. Let’s step out and see what we find. Aligning meeting brands with public brands Lorie…

11 Sep

Behind the Scenes at TED & TEDActive 2014 in BC

by Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, Copyright 2014 Photo by Trib via Flickr Reflect on a time when you felt truly understood, part of a meaningful community, with “your people.” Maybe a happy hour with close friends. A family reunion. A college fraternity experience. Such deep group affiliation isn’t common. So a few months ago, I went on an intentional search for it. And found a rarified, powerful level of connection that lasted five. Days. Straight. This is a behind-the-scenes look at that experience to help us design more intentional, game-changing meetings. When I learned that TED and TEDActive would be held respectively in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia this last spring, just a few hours north of my home-base of Seattle, I yearned to see what all the fuss was about. What happens at TED events that has the world in general, and the meetings industry in particular, abuzz? Why are people across cultures and professions drawn to a long, not-inexpensive, industry-agnostic event—one that is, in part, available for free online, and that may have no direct career dividend? You’re likely familiar with TED. Perhaps you’ve integrated some TED-ness into meetings. Maybe favorite some online TED Talks. Or attended…

03 Sep

8 ways to stage an unforgettable event experience

Spread a Virus your Meeting Attendees WANT to Catch by Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, Copyright 2014 Countless leaders around the world leave their posts every day. That’s not news. Millions of meetings happen around the world, every day. No news there either—as most are uneventful at best. But over the summer, Net-a-Porter CEO Mark Sebba came to work on his last day. His team—from offices around the world—staged a send-off he’ll never forget. You won’t either, once you watch footage of his farewell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4u5VQlBENB8#t=0 This video went viral, for a reason. Actually, for at least 8 reasons. And in doing so, it can inspire us to design our own viral meeting hits. Try implanting even just one or two of these elements, and watch your meeting gain buzz—in powerful, positive ways. Genuine: I could literally feel the energy of this crowd’s true love of their boss (their BOSS!) through the screen. Can you? How do your leaders show up? How do YOU show up when you lead, and how can you be seen as more real? At No More Boring Meetings, we have a tool box of ways to boost leaders’ authenticity. Ask for details. Memorably musical: Woven through…

09 Jun

Game-Changers: Behind the Scenes of the TED-Vancouver, BC Partnership

Copyright 2014  Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster & TEDActive attendee British Columbia, Canada—home to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games—was looking to outdo itself. After all, once you’ve hosted one of the world’s largest events, what do you do for an encore? Raising the bar on BC’s Olympian feat required the finesse and timing of Canadian hockey great Wayne Gretzky. Winning demanded that hospitality, tourism, convention, incentive and governmental teams across all of Canada join forces. That they collaborate to re-imagine their region, their brand and their ability to elevate how ideas are communicated at live events. Success, in short, required being the right place at the right time. And win they did: from March 17-21, BC will host what could well be called the “Olympics of Thought:” The meeting game-changer that is TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) in Vancouver, and the related TEDActive event, in Whistler. TEDsters, hand-selected to join the community, are some of the most well-known thought leaders in the world. Previous attendees include Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall and Hollywood illuminati. How TED2014 ended up in Vancouver is a compelling story of vision and partnership. Of aligning to a common cause. Of helping everyone win—cities and…