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Category: Meeting Production

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 question…

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…

30 Apr

Top 10 Tips for Team Meetings: Boost Productivity & Professionalism

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster at No More Boring Meetings A version of this piece first appeared in the American City Business Journals London School of Economics and Harvard University researchers report that business leaders spend 60% of their time in meetings, and only 15% of their time working alone. As a busy professional, with the majority of your work time spent in groups, you can learn 10 easy ways to host and contribute to more productive team meetings: Be a know it all It’s natural to disengage when meeting content isn’t relevant. The most effective meeting hosts review all potential agenda segments to determine whether they apply to all attendees. If participants already know a particular content slice, then simply don’t cover that segment for the broader audience. Or if you have vastly different levels of awareness in the room, divide people accordingly to ensure maximum relevance for all. No problem? No meeting! We often meet habitually: the weekly project check-in, the monthly mandated. Yet many of these less-then-productive meetings can be canceled or shortened if we identify the problem the meeting is intended to solve. And if we can find no identifiable problem, then we don’t have…

09 Jan

You CAN hear me now

Just one phone call separates status-quo meeting planners from exceptional meeting professionals. It’s what I call a Message Continuity Conference Call. And it’s a crucial component to events with multiple speakers. When you schedule this special call with all your outside speakers and your internal meeting message team, you get happier audiences and stronger meeting outcomes. Plus it’s simple, free and team-driven. How it works: Once you know who will take the stage at your event, particularly “outside” keynote and breakout session presenters, find a time when everyone can be on the phone together. (This often requires planning quite far ahead.) In advance, send everyone a short document in which you describe your meeting-message strategy. Don’t have a strategy? Call me and we can discuss how you can get one. During the call, your goals are to reinforce the most important concepts you want your audience to experience as a result of the meeting and ultimately create more message continuity. Give callers an opportunity to share their content plans, and ensure everyone’s on board with ways to unite and align messages for more impact. Invariably–in the simple act of conversation–themes and patterns emerge that you would not otherwise know about. Connections…

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…

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…

30 Jun

How TED Maximizes Attendees’ Experience in their Custom Theatre

An Intimate Look at the 8000-Piece “Pop-Up” Stage at TED in Vancouver Copyright 2014 Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster All the world’s a stage. Shakespeare knew it, and as meeting professionals, we too view an event stage as the center of a meeting’s world.  As participants, our eyes are trained to focus attention on the speakers and the action on stage, as it’s often the source of much of our meeting experience and our education. Few events rely on a speaker’s stage presence more than TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design). So when the organization decided to um…stage…its 30th anniversary event last spring at the Vancouver Convention Centre, they capitalized on the opportunity to build a stage from scratch. How apropos that the TED 2014 theme was “The Next Chapter,” as just the stage alone represents a new chapter in enhancing the attendee experience. As a TEDActive 2014 attendee, and a TEDx volunteer, I savored the rare opportunity to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the VCC the day before TED started. Part of the tour—in fact, for most of us, the highlight—was the chance to see the stage before it was complete, and learn about the strategy behind its design….