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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….

17 Jun

How the Hidden Science of Sensation will Enhance your Next Meeting

I’ve been reading a new book, “Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence,” by Thalma Lobel. Many of her ideas and cited research apply directly to the meetings realm. In short, the book is a collection of insights about how our bodies and minds process information from the physical world. Lobel takes us beyond the obvious to realize that we can maximize and influence outcomes in conversations, negotiations, MEETINGS, and just about any life experience where we want or need to make an impact…all in unexpected, multi-sensory ways. For simplicity sake, here are just a few of her many findings, in snack-sized bites. For a deeper look, I encourage you read her book. WARMING UP TO F&B: Do you want a prospect or a meeting attendee to “warm up” to you? Be sure to serve a warm—not icy—beverage (and food, for that matter). Choose comfortable, soft chairs, too. In retrospect, these points seem obvious—and yet the possibilities never crossed my mind. Plenty of original research supports this concept. A WEIGHTY POINT: What if you need to ensure a particular agenda item is given enough weight, relative to other meeting topics and/or relative to how attendees may have been perceiving it?…

09 Jun

Game-Changers: Behind the Scenes of the TED-Vancouver, BC Partnership

Copyright 2014  Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster & TEDActive attendee British Columbia, Canada—home to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games—was looking to outdo itself. After all, once you’ve hosted one of the world’s largest events, what do you do for an encore? Raising the bar on BC’s Olympian feat required the finesse and timing of Canadian hockey great Wayne Gretzky. Winning demanded that hospitality, tourism, convention, incentive and governmental teams across all of Canada join forces. That they collaborate to re-imagine their region, their brand and their ability to elevate how ideas are communicated at live events. Success, in short, required being the right place at the right time. And win they did: from March 17-21, BC will host what could well be called the “Olympics of Thought:” The meeting game-changer that is TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) in Vancouver, and the related TEDActive event, in Whistler. TEDsters, hand-selected to join the community, are some of the most well-known thought leaders in the world. Previous attendees include Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall and Hollywood illuminati. How TED2014 ended up in Vancouver is a compelling story of vision and partnership. Of aligning to a common cause. Of helping everyone win—cities and…

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…

17 Mar

What’s the BIG Idea??

Within moments of beginning TED Active in Whistler BC, I began what will ultimately be a full week of learning and generating provocative new ideas, and novel ways to help you generate more OF them at your meetings and FOR your meetings. To wit: this enormous outdoor sculpture, just dedicated two nights ago above the Vancouver Convention Centre, where TED will take place. Beyond serving as a thing of beauty, “Unnnumbered Sparks” (the idea for which was conceived at a previous TED event) allows anyone to affect it by logging into the sculpture’s wireless network and contributing to the art form with their designs. It also represents the capacity for an idea to change as more people add to it. Very TED-like in and of itself. Without installing a massive art piece (!), there are endless ways to help your meeting participants foster more and better ideas through the way you design your events. Just a few: Simply giving people a large wall on which they can share their input over the course of a meeting goes a long way. Be sure to bring them back to the office with you and begin implementing the best. Stage a game through…