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Monday, February 13, 2017

Don't Confuse Action with Interaction - Opening Keynote

in Special Events Blog penned a masterpiece two years ago that every speaker and every meeting planner ought to heed for evermore:

Kanye West is a stand-up guy. Literally. He got a social media thrashing -- call it a Tweeting beating -- by insisting that all attendees at a recent concert in Melbourne stand up to show their enthusiasm for his event.

It seemed he just couldn't stop. He hectored some attendees who continued to sit, which compelled one guest to hold up her prosthetic leg to prove she had an ample excuse to stay seated.


Kanye is not alone these days in demanding that audience members participate -- or else. I'm old-school enough to believe that I can sit quietly at presentations so that the speaker who is smarter than I am can make me smarter, too. And as it happens, there are many, many speakers who are smarter than I am, so I have many opportunities to sit quietly.

Instead, I've been ordered by presenters to stand up, perform jumping jacks, and turn to the total stranger beside me and share some private facts about myself I've never shared with anyone else before. Hmmm … no.

Presenters these days seem gripped by the fear that unless everyone in front of them is in motion, then nothing is happening. But this is a mistake. They are confusing action with interaction. True audience interaction means the audience members shape the presentation. Their input should rule. Indeed, ordering audience members to stand and speak is just the flip side of ordering them to sit down and shut up.

As the wonderful writer James Thurber noted, you might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.

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Monday, February 06, 2017

Low Savings, Increase Amenities - Opening Keynote

Last year most consumers spent all they were paid and then borrowed to spend even more. Nugget for meeting planners: include more amenities at meetings so that participants don’t end up paying more out of pocket.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Heed the Introduction as Written - Opening Keynote


Do your conference speakers a favor: tell your introducers in no uncertain terms not to improvise. Many introducers offer an ad-hoc lines, which squelch a speaker’s planned opening. One of my introducers once added his own line to my introduction. It was his attempt at a joke. It was lame, fell flat, and went nowhere. It also conflicted with my intended opening line, and I had to quickly adjust.

I know of one meeting planner who asks introducers, "Can you deliver this introduction as the speaker has requested?" If the introducer does not pledge to deliver the introduction free of these remarks, the meeting planner finds another introducer.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Creativity Matters - Opening Keynote

Creativity matters and new ideas matter! I know people who will take courses on topics completely out of their field, who try new dishes at restaurants, and who strive to keep themselves open to new ideas. The odd and wonderful thing is you can do all kinds of new and different activities in your personal life that will serve to stimulate your creativity at work, break free of attachment, and overcome the inertia of immobility when you want to get things done. Here are a few ideas:

At work:
* Take a planned 15-minute break twice daily
* Eat away from your desk
* Brainstorm with people not in your department
* Furnish your workspace with plants, pictures, or art that inspires you
* Learn some aspect of the organization that is completely foreign to you

Away from work:
* Change your magazine subscriptions
* Read a literary novel or epic
* Dress differently for different occasions
* Relax on your porch
* Install a hammock in your backyard

In general, to develop your awareness:
* Take an impromptu weekend trip to someplace you haven't visited
* Enroll in a course
* Join a book discussion group
* Volunteer at a charity
* Take up a new sport

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Speak Slowly: Live Longer! - Opening Keynote

Here's an insight for the new year: Taking your time to speak lowers blood pressure.

"Talking fast, that classic Type-A personality trait, may put you at greater risk for heart disease," according to a study in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.

Health-care researchers measured the blood pressures and heart rates of 111 cardiac patients as the subjects read the U. S. Constitution rapidly for two minutes, then slowly for two minutes. The rapid reading triggered a rise in the subjects' blood pressures and heart rates, two heart-disease risk factors.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Is Anyone Paying Attention? - Opening Keynote

An illuminating article from 2014 in the Atlantic offers a startling account about what occurs on the other end of your conference calls. Here is an excerpt:

"A new survey from Intercall, the largest international conference call company, finds that when I occasionally zone out on conference calls, I'm participating in a national pastime, not unlike baseball. More than 60 percent of Intercall's respondents admitted to doing other work or sending an email while on a conference call. More than half the people on the line are eating (hopefully on mute). Just under half are in the bathroom (hopefully on mute!). One in five are shopping. One in 11 are exercising. Six percent are taking another call."

By implication, the issue likely extends to webinars as well. Thus, we need to be highly compelling if not riveting to capture and hold the attention of the people on the other end of the line. Nothing less will do.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sitting is Dangerous! - Opening Keynote

New Year's goal: sit less!

"Scientists have found intriguing evidence that one major reason so many people are overweight these days may be as close as the seat of their pants. Literally," reported Lee Dye nearly 10 years ago, for ABC News. "According to the researchers, most of us sit too much."

"In most cases, exercise alone, according to a team of scientists at the University of Missouri, isn't enough to take off those added pounds. The problem, they say, is that all the stuff we've heard the last few years about weight control left one key factor out of the equation. When we sit, the researchers found, the enzymes that are responsible for burning fat just shut down."


Jeff's take: I knew it! I've always felt energetic standing in front of an audience. I even switched to a stand up desk in January 2006. Anthropologically speaking how could it be any other way?

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