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Category: Inspiration

04 Sep

How can panels and Q&A sessions become unquestionably better? The answer: With these 10 best practices

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings While panels and Q&As can be memorable meeting elements, they’re usually sub-optimized and predictable, short on insights and long on length, unmoored and formulaic. Wouldn’t you rather offer engaging dialogs, energetic interplay, tangible takeaways, friendly arguments, authentic debate and purposeful experiences with a sum greater than the parts? Your audiences would like that too. So, without question, I recommend these 10 best practices. FOR MORE POWERFUL PANELS: 1-Make sure everything about the panel—just like every element of your entire event—is designed and delivered from the audience’s point of view. While you will of course choose panelists because they have specific, valuable points of view, whatever the moderator asks and however panelists respond must be in service of the audience. For example, this point of view is in service of the panelist: “When I was President of BigTechCo’s retail division, we showed our clients how to integrate Internet of Things technology into existing business models faster than any other firm.” This comment is in service of the audience: “IoT is constantly evolving. The most important step you can take is to use a secure framework for building your sales plan. Here…

30 Jul

Transforming the Corporate Offsite to Inspiring & Participant-Owned

A Client Case Study © 2019 Eric Wong, Exember Partner Synopsis: A Fortune 500 company had a history of unproductive, top-down leadership meetings that didn’t move the dial on critical initiatives or address the elephant-in-the-room topics. The company had been wildly successful at their core business where they are market leaders but were struggling to innovate in newer areas where they faced significant competition from more established players. As well, they were aware of the need to augment their culture from one focused purely on technology and top-down leadership, to one that also emphasized diversity of thought and interactive leadership, with openness to more candid discussions across leadership levels. With support from meeting design consultancy Exember, a No More Boring Meetings consulting partner, the group experienced a 1.5-day offsite for 250 leaders in their “top 5%,” which was structured around the Adaptive Leadership model (HBS) to foster the right conversations about current challenges and how to reach new levels of performance. When Exember first met with the client, it was clear that there was a lot on her mind after their last leadership summit failed to meet expectations: “I just don’t think the last meeting cut it — people were…

Joe Calloway interacting
05 Mar

Great leaders don’t give speeches

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings A speaker bureau veteran saying that great leaders don’t give speeches….?! Whaaaat….? Oh, yes. And here’s why. In his new book, The Leadership Mindset, top-tier presenter Joe Calloway shares how he’s come to realize that the most effective  meetings feature conversations—not speeches. Leaders of the most successful gatherings, says Calloway, “Talk with their audiences in a way that conveys ‘Here’s what I want to share with you…let me tell you about it…” It brings with it an attitude of “Let’s go on this journey together.” It’s not a preachy monologue. And it’s certainly not a “lecture.” Joe adds: “Every meeting is an opportunity to inform in a meaningful way and to create alignment, engagement and commitment….Leaders today must consider that the days are coming to an end of meetings and conventions where people spend six or more hours a day sitting in straight rows in total silence listening to lectures. “…People want to engage and interact, whether it’s online or in a meeting. We are shifting from having ‘attendees’ to having ‘participants.’…Think of it this way: Can you imagine anyone planning a meeting today and saying, ‘We don’t want our…

07 Feb

THE Literal Roadmap to Kick-Ass Events

By Andrea Driessen Whether you plan large conferences or small team-building meetings, whether you are a full-time professional or an “accidental” planner who’s new to such projects, you know the experience must kick ass. My just-released book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Event Planning: For Kick-Ass Gatherings that Inspire People [Idea Press], is your roadmap to more engaging, results-driven events. Described as a “high-energy masterclass and brainstorming session all in one, with actionable tips to transform your event planning approach within hours,” the book also offers links to dive further into online content, to expand and deepen your learning. You’ll learn: Why some events change how people think—and others are immediately forgotten How to conquer distraction & generate true engagement How to handle logistics like a pro, with less stress What it really takes to uncover & book the most inspiring speakers What TED Talks teach us about events And more. Bonus for the Blogosphere: The first five blog readers to write to Engage@NoMoreBoringMeetings.com  with BOOK in the subject line, and include a mailing address, will receive their own signed and kissed copies.

18 Sep

Balancing Careful with Creative: A Case Study in Event Risk

By Andrea Driessen This post is excerpted from my forthcoming book, “The Non-Obvious Guide to Event Planning: For Kick-Ass Gatherings that Inspire People,” available Jan. 2019. The events industry tends to view risk as a danger to be avoided. We have (and need!) complex contractual clauses that address indemnity, force majeure and liability. We use carefully crafted checklists, so events run effectively. After all, who wants to risk it? Then we invite imperfect, easily bored guests whose attention spans we cannot control. We host folks who crave novelty, surprise, creativity and cutting-edge ideas. As we consider risk on a continuum, I believe there’s an inherent—and crucial—boldness in trying something new with our programming design and not knowing, for certain, whether it’ll work. For us to truly raise the bar on and positively change the overall event experience, we need to change. And change doesn’t happen in the middle. It happens on the edge, where it’s uncomfortable.

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…

05 Jan

What if attendees remember nothing from your meetings?

Andrea Driessen is Chief Boredom Buster for No More Boring Meetings in Seattle, Washington. © Andrea Driessen 2017 Given the amount of time we spend surrounded by computers—at work, at home, during commutes and yes, in meetings—it’s natural to think we humans are a lot like Pentium chips. We believe we can keep adding data and everything will be automatically saved on the “hard drives” in our heads. If only. While the human brain is indeed powerful, it is not capable of remembering—much less recalling—all we try to cram into it. The meetings world is particularly vulnerable to this overload. Let’s take a closer look at what happens to our minds in meetings, explore how to boost recall and memory, and in the process, the impact of all our events. Most meetings are often overloaded with so much material that learning may be hurt more than it’s enhanced. In fact, attendees may not remember anything from our meetings. What do you remember from the last meeting you attended? If you recall only one element of this article, may it be this: Less is more. As Jeff Hurt, EVP of education and engagement at conference consultancy Velvet Chainsaw, explains: “Forgetting is…

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…

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…

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…

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…