30 Sep

All Hands OFF Deck: 3 Important Questions to Transform your Next Presentation

(Originally appears in the Sept. 2013 issue of The Meeting Professional) Martin Luther King didn’t have one. Neither did Winston Churchill. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her exceptionally popular TED talk on nurturing creative genius, went without. Three revolutionary presenters, and not one slide. We tend to think that for our meeting messages to make a difference, we must rely on data-rich slides on big screens. While slides can augment our ideas, audiences can be swayed—and the world even changed—when we make compelling points sans PowerPoint. I have the honor of working with some of the best speakers on the professional circuit. I see what resonates with audiences—and what makes them tune out. What bores and what roars. Whether you’re preparing a speech for five stakeholders in the C-Suite, 10 important prospects, or 1000 industry peers, you must know how to craft points with maximum impact, and without massive stress. And by occasionally “thinking outside the slide,” you can see what other means of communication come into view. So how do you get and keep audiences’ attention—without slides—in an era of palpable distraction? First ask yourself three crucial questions: What change do you want to elicit? Said another way, what problem does…

11 Sep

5 ways to book a speaker at no cost—or at a greatly reduced fee

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster As the economy grows, the supply of top-tier speakers can exceed demand. When your budget doesn’t quite cover the cost of your best-fit expert, consider this: by making some investments in research and strategic partnership, you can reap big dividends, secure top speaking talent and generate the impact you need without breaking the bank. Here’s how: 1.     Share the Wealth—and Raise YOUR Stature If your organization has multiple layers or departments, you’re likely sitting in the midst of a missed opportunity. Let’s say you work in customer service, hold an annual conference for your employees or your customers, and plan to invite a “name” keynote speaker. You can save money and spread the learning across the enterprise by teaming up with your cohort in, say, sales or HR. Offer this other department the chance to share the speaking talent you’ve invited by joining you at the event OR scheduling their own program on the same day. Cost splits could work in a number of ways: Offer to split expenses 50-50 Alternate years or quarters: for the first event, your departmental budget is tapped; then next quarter, or next year, your partnering department covers the…

14 Aug

Part II: Engaging the Invisible Attendee after an Event: How to communicate key messages—even when you’re not meeting face-to-face

Last week, I wrote about how to engage “invisible” attendees in virtual events–before and during the gathering. But we’re not done yet. There are actions you can take, and SHOULD take, after an event to continue the engagement and build value and buzz into the future. AFTER an event, keep the engagement going: Ensure results don’t end when the live event ends. Afterwards, hold virtual meet-ups online (via Google Hangouts, TweetUps, etc.), so real and virtual attendees continue to connect, learn and network. You’ll also boost in-person attendance over time as relationships crystallize. Need more “second-stage rocket fuel” to propel post-event engagement? Visit for eight more ideas. Implement one or more of these strategies, and you’ll see your meeting attendees become more focused on content that matters to them and to your bottom line.

08 Aug

Engaging the Invisible Attendee: How to communicate key messages—even when you’re not meeting face-to-face

Engaging meeting attendees—live and in person—is challenging enough. Engaging participants we can’t even see—the virtual attendee—may appear even harder. And given how distracted meeting goers are these days, you’d think everyone is “invisible,” with heads buried in their phones and tablet screens rather than engaged in content on the large screen at the front of the room! Know this: the better we are as meeting professionals at connecting with “invisible” attendees, the more our meetings engage everyone, whether they participate in person or virtually. A surprising inspiration for “winning over” the invisible attendee? Television. With smart phones and tablets becoming as common as TVs, we’ve entered the era of “social television.” And I am not referring here to reruns of “Friends.” In fact, you have socialized with your TV if you’ve ever watched a favorite show, sporting event, video game or political event while Tweeting, Facebooking or texting to share the experience with others. This shift demands that meeting designers pay close attention to how we engage now with broadcasted content. Moreover, since high-quality meetings offer TV-caliber storylines as well as suspenseful, you-gotta-be-there experiences, the best company events must also be as compelling as anything offered on HBO, at your…

01 Jul

Unplugged, & Meeting Ourselves Beyond the Matrix

I recently returned from a long-awaited vacation. Ever since I saw a slide show of some crazy guys who biked around Iceland many years ago, this country has been on my short list of must-sees. I intentionally chose to be off the grid and outside the matrix for the vast majority of my trip. Not only to unplug, but to also be much more focused on the vibrant, out-of-this-world world around me. I soon noticed I was more open to serendipity. To connecting to others. To connecting to myself. To not always relying on a GPS to get somewhere. To letting life unfold rather than trying to “make it” unfold and trying to bend reality to my wishes—as we entrepreneurs are inclined to do. When I returned to the office, in the large stack of mail was the current issue of Fast Company, its beckoning cover story entitled “#unplug.” About the importance of disconnecting every now and then from our digital lives. Author Baratunde Thurson’s experience—his 25 days unplugged to my measly 10—deeply resonated and affirmed my travel experience. He wisely notes, “In choosing to digitally enhance, hyperconnect, and constantly share our lives, we risk not living them.” And of…