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Category: Meeting Design

17 Sep

ACK! Q&A is NOT engagement

© 2017 Andrea Driessen You likely have had this experience: You ask speakers how they’ll interact with attendees, and some say, “I’ll add Q&A at the end.” As if that will solve the problem. It will NOT. It’s a LAZY solution. Audience engagement does NOT equal Q&A. Sure…a handful of folks may feel engaged when the speaker answers their questions. But the rest? They’re often tuned out, as the Q is frequently irrelevant at worst, moderately interesting at best. So what CAN you do to boost engagement? A few easy-to-roll-out formats:  1-Post-Program Pair-Up This is a simple, powerful exercise I’ve designed to increase networking and the likelihood of positive change. Whether you have 5 or 5,000 attendees, near the end of your program or event, have participants find partners. Each dyad discusses new goals they want to reach in the next 60 days. They record their objectives—plus each other’s contact information—and together commit to reaching these milestones. Smaller audience? Take commitments to a higher level: invite everyone to state their goals before the whole group; sharing publicly means you’re more likely to succeed. 2-Solve the “unsolvable” with Cricking Think of historical figures, celebrities or someone outside your industry. Then talk…

11 Jul

7 obsessions of the most successful meeting professionals

© 2017 Andrea Driessen At home, maybe you binge-watch House of Cards. At work, you face an entirely different set of preoccupations. So what should you obsess about as a savvy meeting professional, if you are to produce best-in-class events? My most successful clients do the following: 1-Ditch the platitudes and gratitudes. Right out of the gate, you make—or break—the success of an event. In the initial moments of a meeting, audiences’ attention spans are at their highest levels. And what almost always comes first in a show script? What I call platitudes and gratitudes: over-the-top thanking of people and sharing often-meaningless content. What top meeting strategist Brian Walter calls “emphatitudes: platitudes stated emphatically.” Attending a large, mission-critical 90-minute meeting not long ago was akin to witnessing a slow-motion train wreck. I painfully sat through the opening speaker’s first 10 minutes. It felt, and likely was, unscripted and seemingly without intent: “Good morning. I didn’t hear you. GOOD MORNING! We are so excited you’re here. Thank you. We appreciate you. We’re here with our stakeholders. We’re thrilled you’re here. I want to thank our commissioners. We are excited about the work our CEO is doing…” That’s 10% of the meeting…

17 May

7 Ways to Drastically Reduce your Event Risks

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster As a meeting professional, you know that events bring inherent risks: security lapses, food-borne illness, lackluster presenters…to name a few. Some we can control. Some we can lessen. A few we can even eliminate. Others may look like as hazards—but with the right level of support, you can reduce or even eliminate them. At No More Boring Meetings, we’re ferociously dedicated to lessening 7 key risks in the talent and content realms: 1-Speaker cancellation. In nearly 20 years, we’ve had one speaker cancel. If that happens on your watch, No More Boring Meetings will act immediately to tap a deep network of supremely qualified speakers who can fill in.  Bam: problem solved. 2-Speaker delay. Why worry that your presenter will arrive late? Our speakers are required to choose flights to your event with at least one back up in case of airline delay or cancellation. Voila: you’re covered. 3-Trying to find a needle in a haystack of 80,000,000. Google “customer service speaker,” and you’ll get 80 million results. So you could either take the risk—and the time!—to sort through these yourself. Or have a short conversation with us, and break free from such crushing…

13 Mar

Your “great” idea? Great only if you can communicate its value

Copyright 2017 Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings, and Creator of Mixing Chamber TM You and your team surely have game-changing ideas. But what if you don’t know how to effectively communicate their value so others will take notice—and take action? Individual business leaders and entire organizations are undoubtedly leaving money and opportunity on the table without realizing it. That’s because most professionals don’t understand how to package their best ideas. They don’t know how to communicate their value in ways that audiences want to hear. Plus, most meetings aren’t designed to make the most of the collective intelligence in the room. The sad result? The very best ideas may go unnoticed or unfunded. But a powerful force is disrupting how presentations are delivered and consumed. That force is TED Talks. Their global prevalence and popularity have shown us a new way to communicate spreadable, viral-worthy ideas. The TED Talk phenomenon has critical implications for those who want to share their ideas. It forces organizations and their leaders to drastically improve presentation skills to stand out in a sea of sameness. To communicate their best ideas quickly and effectively. To drive more innovation and revenue within an organization….

30 Jan

How Can Event Q&A Become Unquestionably Better?

The Answer: With these 7 Best Practices Copyright 2017 Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings Question-and-answer sessions at business meetings and conferences can engage and inform—or they can fall flat and careen off the rails. Savvy event professionals know not to leave such programming to chance. Let’s explore best practices for Q&A so that with intention and attention, all your future sessions sizzle. When you use my easy-to-implement process, you’ll find your audiences, your presenters and your fellow organizers will have a more positive, impactful experience. Lay the groundwork: First, let presenters who will be taking Q&A know you stage “Best Practice Q&A” and as such, you don’t want to end the entire program with Q&A. Instead, ask them—in advance of the event so they can thoughtfully prepare—to close with a final, short and relevant point, anecdote, or big-picture insight.Think of it as a content sandwich: Main program, Q&A, short closing segment. This three-part package unites all the remarks in a memorable, positive way. If you end with Q&A, you have no control over how your events end, how attendees depart, and the last emotions and thoughts you leave with audiences. After all, what if the last…

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…

13 Sep

5 Ways to Maximize Investments in all your Meeting Presenters

By Andrea Driessen Whether you invite external keynoters, subject matter experts, breakout session presenters or a combination of these speakers to your meetings, you invest a great deal of time, effort and money to involve others in delivering actionable content. And with over 2.7 million people worldwide watching TED talks every day, audiences everywhere have come to expect speakers to be exceptionally compelling, engaging and memorable. So how can you make the most of all speakers’ time and talent? Five easy ways: SCHEDULE A MESSAGE CONTINUITY CONFERENCE CALL This one phone call can take your meetings from mediocre to memorable. How it works: invite to a conference call all your meeting-message stakeholders who play significant roles in sharing expertise. Your goals are to air and then reinforce the most important “meta-message” take aways for your audience. Invariably—in the simple act of conversation—otherwise unknown themes and patterns emerge. Connections and common ground are found that boost each speaker’s impact. This call also ensures that any content redundancies and contradictions are revealed and removed in advance, so you can make the most of every minute. Trying to convey too many messages can mean very little sticks. Often, we communicate more—and more is remembered—when…

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…

03 Aug

Take one (or more) for the team: 5 group activities that build trust, commitment & accountability

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster at No More Boring Meetings In his bestseller, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, author Patrick Lencioni describes five primary reasons teams fail. (To which some will say, only half-jokingly, “What, only five!?”) Using these dysfunctions as a framework, I’ll profile corresponding teambuilding exercises to turn that dysfunction into engaging, purposeful function. 1. Absence of Trust We know trust is the cornerstone of solid teams. Ropes courses are classic, often-used and perhaps now-tired ways to instill team trust. Want something fresh—and essentially free? Workshop leader Scott Crabtree uses a simple, powerful and fast method. He invites members of low-trust teams to present personal pecha kucha (the Japanese phrase for chatter) slide shows about their lives outside of work, so people connect as individuals. Ten image-only slides get just 10 seconds’ of one’s personal life story. Says Scott: “Keeping the presentations short preserves engagement and interest, and ensures everyone gets a turn. More than that, in this simple act of revealing our non-work selves, trust and vulnerability are built as we learn more about each other in 10 minutes than some do in 10 years.” 2. Fear of Conflict If you’ve enjoyed improv as an…