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Category: Meeting Formats

30 Jul

Transforming the Corporate Offsite to Inspiring & Participant-Owned

A Client Case Study © 2019 Eric Wong, Exember Partner Synopsis: A Fortune 500 company had a history of unproductive, top-down leadership meetings that didn’t move the dial on critical initiatives or address the elephant-in-the-room topics. The company had been wildly successful at their core business where they are market leaders but were struggling to innovate in newer areas where they faced significant competition from more established players. As well, they were aware of the need to augment their culture from one focused purely on technology and top-down leadership, to one that also emphasized diversity of thought and interactive leadership, with openness to more candid discussions across leadership levels. With support from meeting design consultancy Exember, a No More Boring Meetings consulting partner, the group experienced a 1.5-day offsite for 250 leaders in their “top 5%,” which was structured around the Adaptive Leadership model (HBS) to foster the right conversations about current challenges and how to reach new levels of performance. When Exember first met with the client, it was clear that there was a lot on her mind after their last leadership summit failed to meet expectations: “I just don’t think the last meeting cut it — people were…

09 Apr

What’s missing in virtual communication—and in boring meetings (plus 3 things to do about it)

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings Like many meetings and events, virtual communications are often boring, unemotional, forgettable, one way and lacking in purpose. Turns out, many of the techniques for improving how we communicate virtually help us improve the in-person meeting experience, too. Let’s explore these realms a bit deeper with insights from Dr. Nick Morgan. He’s one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches, and speaks worldwide on communication, body language, storytelling and executive presence. His latest book is Can You Hear Me Now? How to Connect with People in the Virtual World. As Nick explains, when we meet face to face, whether in groups or 1:1, we have the benefit of vocal tonation, body language, gestures, eye contact and intention. With these multi-sensory inputs as a foundation, we build trust, connection, emotionality and empathy with others. You might assume that all meetings offer these same foundational sensory cues. Yet that’s not always the case, and that’s where boredom, disconnection, a lack of empathy and lackluster results seep in. That’s why I recommend using the following tools and guidelines so your virtual and in-person meetings will are richer, interactive, story-driven experiences that address our…

Joe Calloway interacting
05 Mar

Great leaders don’t give speeches

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings A speaker bureau veteran saying that great leaders don’t give speeches….?! Whaaaat….? Oh, yes. And here’s why. In his new book, The Leadership Mindset, top-tier presenter Joe Calloway shares how he’s come to realize that the most effective  meetings feature conversations—not speeches. Leaders of the most successful gatherings, says Calloway, “Talk with their audiences in a way that conveys ‘Here’s what I want to share with you…let me tell you about it…” It brings with it an attitude of “Let’s go on this journey together.” It’s not a preachy monologue. And it’s certainly not a “lecture.” Joe adds: “Every meeting is an opportunity to inform in a meaningful way and to create alignment, engagement and commitment….Leaders today must consider that the days are coming to an end of meetings and conventions where people spend six or more hours a day sitting in straight rows in total silence listening to lectures. “…People want to engage and interact, whether it’s online or in a meeting. We are shifting from having ‘attendees’ to having ‘participants.’…Think of it this way: Can you imagine anyone planning a meeting today and saying, ‘We don’t want our…

07 Feb

THE Literal Roadmap to Kick-Ass Events

By Andrea Driessen Whether you plan large conferences or small team-building meetings, whether you are a full-time professional or an “accidental” planner who’s new to such projects, you know the experience must kick ass. My just-released book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Event Planning: For Kick-Ass Gatherings that Inspire People [Idea Press], is your roadmap to more engaging, results-driven events. Described as a “high-energy masterclass and brainstorming session all in one, with actionable tips to transform your event planning approach within hours,” the book also offers links to dive further into online content, to expand and deepen your learning. You’ll learn: Why some events change how people think—and others are immediately forgotten How to conquer distraction & generate true engagement How to handle logistics like a pro, with less stress What it really takes to uncover & book the most inspiring speakers What TED Talks teach us about events And more. Bonus for the Blogosphere: The first five blog readers to write to Engage@NoMoreBoringMeetings.com  with BOOK in the subject line, and include a mailing address, will receive their own signed and kissed copies.

18 Sep

Balancing Careful with Creative: A Case Study in Event Risk

By Andrea Driessen This post is excerpted from my forthcoming book, “The Non-Obvious Guide to Event Planning: For Kick-Ass Gatherings that Inspire People,” available Jan. 2019. The events industry tends to view risk as a danger to be avoided. We have (and need!) complex contractual clauses that address indemnity, force majeure and liability. We use carefully crafted checklists, so events run effectively. After all, who wants to risk it? Then we invite imperfect, easily bored guests whose attention spans we cannot control. We host folks who crave novelty, surprise, creativity and cutting-edge ideas. As we consider risk on a continuum, I believe there’s an inherent—and crucial—boldness in trying something new with our programming design and not knowing, for certain, whether it’ll work. For us to truly raise the bar on and positively change the overall event experience, we need to change. And change doesn’t happen in the middle. It happens on the edge, where it’s uncomfortable.

23 May

A Powerful Story of a Quadruple Win

Don’t we all love success stories?! See how a nonprofit succeeded in spades–four times over–as they: Drastically increased live and virtual event attendees Boosted overall event revenue Secured more sponsorship dollars AND Showcased a cutting-edge event technology When a nonprofit tackles such a difficult issue as childhood trauma, you had better believe that there are truly passionate people behind that effort. For Victoria Peattie Helm, Executive Director at NW Children’s Foundation (NWCF) and Kelly Lynch Reimer, NWCF Program Manager, uniting people to end child abuse and neglect is part of their day job. And they will do everything that they can to fulfill this mission. Their signature event, The NWCF Forum, plays a big role in helping to raise both awareness and engage the community in their mission. THE PROBLEM: When the 2018 Forum sold out with over a month to go before the event, they realized they had a demand from people who wanted to engage, but they had no more room at the venue. Victoria and Kelly had a goal to bring together as many people as possible for a community conversation on early childhood trauma and resiliency, and they were determined not to let venue constraints limit participation. That’s when they reached out…

03 Jan

9 critical ways to transform meeting uncertainty into event success

By Andrea Driessen The new year often fosters lots of possibility—and plenty of uncertainty. One area where none of us want to experience uncertainty is our speaker line up. So I’ve codified 9 critical steps we at No More Boring Meetings use to eliminate as many elements of uncertainty as possible. While we can’t control the weather or the actions of global political leaders, we can and I believe must do the following to control the controllable and ensure our events sizzle. 1-Offer up: When you’re making offers to speakers, do you ask for everything you need? A content conference call, media interview(s), social media posts, post-event follow up? You’ll avoid disappointment and gain conference buzz when these points are covered in the offer and therefore are part of your planning and execution. Better to over-ask than to forget a key request, as you may be out of luck if you inquire after the contract’s been signed. 2-Easy strategy: On the conference call, discuss: why was this particular speaker chosen? How does he or she fit into meeting goals and the organizational mission? Better to over-communicate here than leave out key info. 3-Do you know who I am? Be sure…

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

© 2018 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….

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…