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Category: Meeting Strategies

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 question…

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…

08 Jun

Effective speakers shouldn’t do this, right?

Have you noticed a strange trend in our speech patterns? It’s a common verbal tick that’s simply annoying in social settings, yet reputation diluting in professional settings. You’ve likely heard and unwittingly participated in this meme: YOU: “This work party is rad—open bar and everything!” YOUR COLLEAGUE: “I know, right?” It’s meant to be an innocent, fun-loving way to express agreement. And that’s fine in informal conversations. Yet I believe “I know, right?” has the same effect as “uptalk,” that annoying but common habit of raising our voices at the end of declarative sentences, making us sound unsure of ourselves. Linguists define it as “A speech pattern in which phrases and sentences habitually end with a rising sound, as if the statement were a question. Also known as upspeak or high-rising terminal (HRT).”  As in: “I am sure we’ll find a way to refrain from uptalking,” ending with a rising voice that turns a statement into a question and a confident person into an unsure one. I’ve been hearing the “I know, right?” along with the stand-alone, end-of-sentence, equally offending “…right?” pattern not just in “rad” social settings but—more alarmingly—in company training programs, on demo reels of some of the…

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…

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…

11 Feb

3 games to make meetings more efficient and effective

We all know meetings can be extremely boring. After all, if you’re strictly relying on internal speakers to carry the weight of your meeting, some will be more effective than others at disseminating information effectively to meeting participants. Games, however, can improve meetings drastically, do much of the work and catch everyone’s attention. Games are fun, exciting, and give an element of surprise to meetings that make employees engaged and creative. Entertainment site Pocket Fruity mentions that smartphone apps like Draw Something and Words with Friends became huge hits particularly because they’re games that make everyday activities such as scribbling and writing words extremely fun. If you’re going to be a speaker in next meeting, here are a few ideas to make your audience more responsive. Trading Cards This game is very effective in introducing new employees to each other. If you’re an HR officer and part of your job is to make people comfortable with each other, introduce the Trading Cards game. It’s very simple. Just give each employee a piece of paper and make them create their own “player card” that includes their alias, hobbies, and unique traits of themselves. Once that’s done, ask them to pass the…

13 Jan

4 brain-boosting tips for your next meeting

Guest Blog by Yvonne Szikla, founder of Events with a Purpose What’s the best way to harness all that brain power that shows up at your next meeting?  The folks over at Brain Research Advance Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) are trying to unravel this mystery, thanks to a $46 million federal grant. How we think, learn and remember provide the basics for optimizing brain power and maximizing a successful meeting. Brain-friendly meetings enhance learning by incorporating ergonomic principles from lighting (warm white light is best), to proper acoustics to comfortable chairs. 4 brain-boosting tips for your next meeting: Keep it simple The human brain has a limited amount of processing power.  Studies have shown that the average person can pay attention for approximately 20 minutes before starting to fade.  Something as simple as having participants stand and shake hands with each other allows the brain to take a break while increasing circulation and blood flow to the brain. Keep it Real Reconstructive learning allows participants to reconstruct, repeat, and recognize what they just heard – one of the best ways to learn something new. Keep it Brief Brain experts recommend a break after 1.5 hours of work to keep participants focused….