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Saturday, December 16, 2017

No More Off-the Shelf - Opening Keynote

Today, every audience requires at least some form of a tailored presentation. There are no more off-the-shelf programs that fit every audience every time, even when the topic is as generic as management, leadership, or stress. The speaker has to take time to know the audience, what they're specifically facing, their daily challenges, and so on.

The true professional speaker will spend more time asking you about your audience than conveying the essence of his or her message, at least at the outset. Be wary of any speaker who claims to have just the right message but who does not ask you a lot of questions.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Meeting Facilities, Smoke-Free - Opening Keynote

Great moments in meeting planning history:

                                                         Marriott Snuffs Out Butts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Beginning in September, 2006 Marriott International will prohibit smoking in all of its lodging establishments in the U.S. and Canada. Smoking will be prohibited in all guest rooms, lounges, public spaces, employee work areas, meeting rooms, and restaurants.

The ban is set to apply to all of Marriott’s lodging brands, making up 2,300 hotels with 400,000 hotel rooms, including Marriott, JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Marriott ExecuStay.

"Creating a smoke-free environment demonstrates a new level of service and care for our guests and associates," said J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International. "Our family of brands is united on this important health issue and we anticipate very positive customer feedback."

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Learning at Any Age - Opening Keynote

Matthew Blakeslee, writing for Discover says, "If old dogs haven’t been able to learn new tricks, maybe that’s because no one has known how to teach them properly. Until quite recently orthodox neuroscience held that only the brains of young children are resilient, malleable, and morphable -- in a word, plastic."

"This neuroplasticity, as it is called, seems to fade steadily as the brain congeals into its fixed adult configuration. Infants can sustain massive brain damage, up to the loss of an entire cerebral hemisphere, and still develop into nearly normal adults; any adult who loses half the brain, by contrast, is a goner. Adults can’t learn to speak new languages without an accent, can’t take up piano in their fifties then go on to play at Carnegie Hall, and often suffer strokes that lead to permanent paralysis or cognitive deficiencies. The mature brain, scientists concluded, can only decline."

"It turns out this theory is not just wrong, it is spectacularly wrong. Two books, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Ballantine) by science journalist Sharon Begley and The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking) by psychiatrist Norman Dodge, offer masterfully guided tours through the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity research. Each has its own style and emphasis; both are excellent."

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Staying on Time! - Opening Keynote

Here a few ideas from EffectiveMeetings.com on the topic of staying on time:

* State that the meeting will begin promptly at the scheduled time and that all participants should be on time.

* Send a reminder e-mail thirty minutes before the meeting begins and encourage meeting participants to arrive on time.

* Ensure that you begin the meeting at the scheduled time. If you've encouraged others to be prompt, don't embarrass yourself by showing up late.

* Close the meeting room doors at the scheduled time.

* If your meeting starts a little late, still finish the meeting at the scheduled time. It's inconsiderate to assume the participants' schedules revolve around your meeting, so wrap up the meeting when you promised.

* Consider creating a "latecomer jar" to which meeting participants must contribute one dollar for each minute they arrive late to meetings. At the end of the week, you can buy muffins or donuts for everyone who attended the meeting… courtesy of the latecomers!

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Supporting Materials - Opening Keynote

The best speakers have all their supporting materials readily available: Undoubtedly, before your scheduled event, you'll need a biography, an introduction, a write-up of the presentation, and perhaps a photo of the speaker. The seasoned pro has such items and others readily available. These aren't things he or she has to go round up; top professional speakers offer such elements online so that you can examine them at will.

When these materials are not readily available, it might be a sign that something is amiss -- a speaker without a portfolio is like a firefighter without a hose.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tips for Flights - Opening Keynote

If you're flying midday, wear your sunglasses because ultraviolet rays from the sun are more potent: especially if you're flying above the clouds. To read, lower the window cover and use the overhead lighting.

Carry your own small water bottle on board to avoid having to ask flight attendants for drinks. Also, when the meal is served before the beverage, you're able to wet your whistle while you eat. Half the battle of flying is remaining hydrated. It's better to go to the restroom four times because you've been hydrating yourself than to land exhausted and need four days to catch up.

Bring your own snacks (carrots, sliced cucumbers, other watery vegetables; apples, pears, and other fruits), but not candy or dead carbohydrates such as chips, crackers, or dehydrating foods. Even the worst of airline meals will go down more easily if you eat your own nutritious snacks before or after. These will help keep you regular, and your whole trip will go better.

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Overcoming Audience Resistance - Opening Keynote

Noted speaker, author, and High Point University president Nido Qubien has observed that "Barriers resulting from audience resistance fall into two categories: external factors that cause people to tune you out, and internal factors that prevent them from giving you their complete attention."

1) External Barriers
People often form first impressions on the basis of external factors, says Qubien. "If the first impression is negative, you won't get the person's attention. Look for characteristics of dress, speech and actions that may be turning people off. If your dress is too casual, frivolous or distracting, you may be losing listeners. If your voice is strident, shrill or guttural, people may find you unpleasant to listen to. In certain areas, regional accents may turn people off. If you speak with a pronounced regional accent and are doing business in a region where that accent is not commonly heard, you may have to look for ways to overcome this barrier. You may want to work on acquiring a more generic accent. Or you may want to spend some time cultivating the person's confidence."

2) Internal Barriers
"Internal barriers to communication may stem from a lack of interest in what you're saying or a lack of understanding," he says. "If you discern a lack of interest, find some way to lead your listener to identify with your message. How does it concern your listener personally? What bearing does it have on the listener's job, income, health, family, or security? Once you establish that point of identity, you'll have attention."

In conclusion, "People have a way of erecting defense mechanisms and emotional barriers when they feel threatened by what you are saying or by the way you are saying it," notes Qubien. "Studies have repeatedly shown that people, like other creatures, feel protective of their territories. Invade those turfs, or act in a threatening manner, and you will be sure to turn off their attention. When your task is to deliver an unpleasant message or to persuade your listener to take some unpleasant action, look for ways to neutralize the negatives and to reassure the person who feels threatened."

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