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Category: Ideas for Meetings

21 Jul

The client conference call: what consultants, trainers & thought leaders may be doing wrong–and how to fix it

Synopsis: How are we perceived by listeners—say, our clients—on the other end of conference calls? How do we show up and make impressions—indelible first impressions—on those who make our livings possible? In my work, I participate in countless speaker-client calls, and this post is born from that experience. >>>>>> If you’re a consultant, trainer, or thought leader who schedules conference calls to strategize live events or meetings with larger audiences, you well know the importance of delivering content from your clients’ points of view. What you may not fully appreciate is that customers are listening long before you step into the larger spotlight—during preparatory conference calls. As the owner of a speaking agency for nearly two decades, I often participate in calls between clients and speakers. Why take the time? Because these conversations offer a treasure trove of back-door R&D. And they provide crucial windows through which I learn more about client culture, needs, team dynamics, and pain points. I listen for both what’s at stake at the pending meeting—and for future needs. As a result, I have a front-row seat to these client-speaker exchanges. And I gotta tell you: too many miss the opportunity to shine here, on the…

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…

10 Nov

How boredom kills us—in body, mind and spirit—and what to do about it

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster A podcast on the tedium of boredom produced by Public Radio International delves into the subject of boredom in a decidedly un-boring, substantial way. Let’s explore the piece, along with related compelling research, to see how being “bored to death” isn’t just a euphemism. And discuss what to do about it. How boredom can destroy us: • It’s easy to think of boredom as a lack of stress and stimulation. Yet in a study at the University of Waterloo, researchers showed that boredom is actually a state of stress — levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in fact rose after boredom was induced. (Who knew?!) • We sometimes use the expression “I’m bored to death,” whether in a meeting or not. It’s meant to be an overstatement, but in 2010, researchers at University College London studied questionnaires completed by 7,524 civil servants in the late 1980s who were between the ages of 35 to 55. Those who noted higher degrees of boredom were more likely to have died upon a follow-up than those who had not reported feeling bored. • Furthermore, boredom is damaging to our integrity — it crushes our souls as we…

03 Aug

Take one (or more) for the team: 5 group activities that build trust, commitment & accountability

        By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, copyright 2018 No More Boring Meetings In his bestseller, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, author Patrick Lencioni describes five primary reasons teams fail. (To which some will say, only half-jokingly, “What, only five!?”) Using these dysfunctions as a framework, I’ll profile corresponding teambuilding exercises to turn that dysfunction into engaging, purposeful function. 1. Absence of Trust We know trust is the cornerstone of solid teams. Ropes courses are classic, often-used and perhaps now-tired ways to instill team trust. Want something fresh—and essentially free? Workshop leader Scott Crabtree uses a simple, powerful and fast method. He invites members of low-trust teams to present personal pecha kucha (the Japanese phrase for chatter) slide shows about their lives outside of work, so people connect as individuals. Ten image-only slides get just 10 seconds’ of one’s personal life story. Says Scott: “Keeping the presentations short preserves engagement and interest, and ensures everyone gets a turn. More than that, in this simple act of revealing our non-work selves, trust and vulnerability are built as we learn more about each other in 10 minutes than some do in 10 years.” 2. Fear of Conflict If…

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…

20 Jan

No Joke: Humor as a Powerful Engagement Tool

What if you could add just one item to your meeting tool kit and…boost learning, attention, trust, energy, adaptability, memory, collaboration, optimism, circulation, and lifespan; lessen fear, stress and resistance to change; and help build safer, more inclusive communities? You’d hold in your hot little hands the Swiss army knife of meeting tools, wouldn’t you? But what could possibly do all that? Humor, my friend. Humor. Think I’m joking? Ask the researchers. Ask successful meeting planners who make a habit of incorporating humor into their events. Or just read on. “Humor” in this context refers to thoughtful, strategic content that engages audiences on an emotional level and makes them laugh because it surprises and delights—in relevant, contextual ways. It’s not on par with comedic joke-telling, which is pure entertainment with no take-away value. Indeed, the capacity of well-placed humor to improve meetings is no laughing matter. For starters, “Emotion drives attention and attention drives learning,” found Robert Sylwester, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon. Further, according to the nonprofit Information Age Education (IAE), humor increases memory and long-term retrieval, and can capture the attention of people who are easily bored and inattentive. It helps us be more…

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….

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…