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18 Mar

Apprentice Tank: Make your next meeting go swimmingly

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster Love watching “Shark Tank”? Drawn to “The Apprentice”? Despise boring meetings? Then you’re a natural for Apprentice Tank. A fresh meeting format designed by meetings expert Brian Walter, Apprentice Tank combines the concepts and energy of The Apprentice and Shark Tank TV shows, while staying within the legal parameters of parody. How it works: Organizations identify a business problem to solve, or throw down a new product challenge. A real problem, not a possible scenario, because the power of Apprentice Tank is in the game’s very serious purpose: the winning team’s idea is actually funded. Participants roll up their sleeves to create something new and relevant.  Your audience’s natural competitive instincts are ignited. Leaders appear in their very best light because their strategic reasoning gets the spotlight. Teams are engaged in focused competition and relevant problem-solving. As the game taps well-known pop-cultural references from television, your company enjoys a reality show about…your reality! We recently staged this segment for a retail client. In short, the segment went swimmingly. Reporting back, the Vice President of Operations wrote: “Scheduled at the end of a long, multiple-day meeting with a room full of tired field leaders, our…

29 Nov

Top 21 Strategies for Successful Hybrid Meetings

Attending the uber-fabulous EventCampVancouver in person earlier this month—itself a well-executed hybrid meeting—I learned a great deal about hybrid meeting best practices. Hybrid business meetings, once an occasional event, have indeed gone mainstream. Whether you’ve staged them, attended them, or simply wondered and worried (!) about them, the following tips—taken from the EventCampVancouver experience—will likely boost your success as a planner and attendee. After all, as a fellow camper in Vancouver rightly said, “Hybrid is a toy if it’s not a part of well-honed strategy.” [A working definition: hybrid meetings are simply events at which audiences meet live (in-person) WHILE other attendees tune in virtually.] STRUCTURE and FORMAT: 1.      Among EventCamp attendees who’ve executed hybrids, no one indicated that their hybrid meeting sabotaged attendance from their “regular” meeting registration numbers.  Contrary to what some believe, hybrid meetings are inherently ADDITIVE to your current audience base and ability to stage more viable events in the future. And, take note:  confident organizations take the risk of staging hybrids so more voices are heard. 2.      You can boost the potency of a previously real-time-only event by adding hybrid components. 3.      If, for whatever reason, you’re not ready to hold a hybrid meeting, start…

19 Oct

Managing—and better yet, PREVENTING—Speaker “No-Shows”: Top 8 tips for Less Stress

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings A no-show speaker is most meeting planners’ worst nightmare. You can lessen or even eliminate this stressor—and boost your peace of mind—with the following strategies. Remove the possibility of flight delays. When hiring an out-of-town external speaker, include a clause in your agreement that requires your speaker to book a flight with at least one back up or buffer flight after it, in case the initially booked flight is canceled or delayed. This simple step can save you untold worry. In some cases, you can offer to pick up the speaker from the airport yourself, or ask a colleague. You maintain control, save money on ground transportation, and enjoy rare, one-on-one time with your speaker. Ask, or even contract, to ensure external speakers call you upon arrival in the event city—an easy way to boost your confidence and composure. Ensure speakers have everything at their disposal to arrive at the right venue, at the right time, in the right room. This may sound obvious, yet details can fall through the cracks. This includes accurate driving directions (don’t just rely on web-based mapping programs—we all know it can be very wrong),…

19 Jul

3 Proven Event Theme-Keynote Combos To Boost Buzz & Message Alignment

The right meeting theme combined with the right keynote address will: • Build a solid foundation on which to shape all aspects of your meeting, including venue, décor, breakouts, and gifts • Help participants become more engaged and retain more information • Create more effective, memorable and outcome-driven meeting experiences Check out these three proven meeting theme-keynote combinations that build relevant, strategic meeting content. 1. “All Systems Go.” Related themes: “Blast Off,” “Reach,” and “Stratospheric,” “Failure is Not an Option.” Whether your organization is about to launch a new set of initiatives…you’re starting a new sales program…or you’re on the cusp of the next fiscal year….a superb meeting theme is “All Systems Go,” or similar. To reinforce this theme with fresh, exciting programming, choose a speaker who’s truly been to that “last frontier”…an astronaut…someone who knows how to reach that critical “all systems go” level of achievement. Astronaut-speakers whose content and credentials directly align with the theme: Mike Mullane, among the first group of US Space Shuttle astronauts, and now, a high content and humorous speaker/author with a program entitled “Countdown to Teamwork.” Sally Ride, the first American woman in space Jim Lovell, Captain of Apollo 13, who with his…

16 Jun

May the Force Be With You: Why in-person meetings are the most powerful way to connect, inspire and learn

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings In this era of webinars, video conferencing, podcasting, ad infinitum, the need for authentic, human-to-human connection from live meetings has never been greater. Indeed, with so much happening virtually, the power of real time people engagement is at an all time high. We in the meetings industry, then, have an unprecedented—and I believe under-utilized—opportunity to create exceptionally memorable experiences and greater productivity for our audiences. How? By tapping into force fields: that invisible, palpable , contagious energy exuded by thought leaders, celebrities and really anyone we care about. After all, what’s more compelling: watching Oprah on a screen—or watching her live? Seeing him skate on ESPN, or shaking hands with Apolo Ohno?  And why do thousands line up in advance to talk personally or even shake hands with Presidents and CEOs? No matter how much we go virtual, or maybe BECAUSE so much is now virtual, we still LOVE to be physically near people we admire, and who bring skills and insights we need to be more effective in this wild world. We are wise to allow this Force to shape our own knowledge, excitement, and energy. 7 ways to…

14 Sep

Less is More: Why considering fewer speakers yields better results

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less author Barry Schwartz shows us why having more choices leads to poorer decisions. Advising hundreds of individuals and groups on external speaker selections, I see organizations often held captive by this paradox.
To save you effort and aspirin, as well as boost morale and group cohesiveness, here’s a simple, NON-paradoxical process for optimal committee-driven speaker selections