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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meeting Planners who Hinder - Opening Keynote

As a speaker, every once in a while you encounter a meeting planner who doesn't give you the fundamental information that you need to be successful. This happened to me at a speech in Winnipeg to an insurance support group.

I was scheduled to speak for 90 minutes. Prior to my session, attending salespeople would be returning from lunch at the company's headquarters. There would be some announcements and a few awards before I went on.

Predictably, the lunch ran a little long. People continued to arrive back at the conference until just before the afternoon session; everything was going to be pushed back 15 to 20 minutes. I wasn’t concerned, because I had experienced this many times.

I took my seat in the far right of the front row. When the introducer mentioned my name and that I was going to be presenting that afternoon, I stood up and positioned myself along the wall adjacent to my seat, waiting for him to conclude his remarks. Instead of concluding, he gave several brief announcements for a duration of more than five minutes. He then cited several individuals in the room and called others up to hand out awards. The award ceremony lasted for more than 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I was still standing along the wall, smiling, and politely applauding along with the audience. My energy was dissipating. It had been more than 25 minutes and I had no idea when it was going to be my turn to speak.

After even more announcements, I was finally introduced, but now this after-lunch audience had already been in their chairs for 30 minutes. This, of course, was a disaster in and of itself. Most people need to go to the rest room 60 to 90 minutes after lunch. With them being in their seats for 30 minutes and me planning to speak for 90, it was a guarantee that by the end of the two hours, people would be dying to go.

As I began, I realized I needed to ramp up my energy level. The audience was already in a slump, and now I was not my normal, high energy self. The session went fairly well, but it wasn't one of my better performances.

The meeting planner was oblivious to the whole situation, and there was no opportunity after the fact to converse. In retrospect, I suppose I should have sat down once I realized how long the award ceremony was going to take. It seemed, however, that it was just about to end, mostly because the people giving the awards were not adept at what they were doing.

Hereafter, for after-lunch sessions, I will grill the meeting planner about the precise agenda and timing.

Every speaker experiences some seemingly unavoidable misunderstandings. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons why public speaking is one of the least desirable activities among adults. This far into my career of paid, professional speaking, a situation of this sort should not have happened. I suppose it could have been worse.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Increasing Social Isolation - Opening Keynote

Dateline 2007, with dramatic overtones seven years later:

"Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago," says Shankar Vedantam, a Washington Post staff writer. "And a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

Has Facebook, Twitter, or social sites picked up some of the slack?  A little but not much. The implication for meeting professionals: the need for face-to-face meetings will never die. People will be amenable if only to stem some of the tide of the growing feeling of isolation in their personal lives.

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Who Fears Speaking? - Opening Keynote

It has been said that speaking before a group is the number one fear of adults – a proposition which has been widely misinterpreted. The number one social fear of adult is speaking before groups.

Given the choice of speaking before a group or trying to scale a 500-foot vertical sheet of solid rock, being operated on for a brain tumor, or being held-up at gunpoint, most adults find speaking before a group to be far less frightening.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Allen Klein and his Great Books - Opening Keynote

Undoubtedly you’ll find something here to lighten your load as Fall beckons:
* WorkLaughs
* TeacherLaughs
* ParentLaughs

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Words Usage over Time - Opening Keynote

How has the use of a word or phrase grown or declined over time? Through its service Books Ngram Viewer, Google has scanned in a million+ books published in the last two centuries. When you ask it for something like "conference," it shows the percentage of books published each year that use the word. In deciding how to phrase a meeting announcement, you can search phrases, as well as compare different words and phrases.

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Monday, August 04, 2014

Give them Doubles! - Opening Keynote

When distributing handout material for attendees, offer a second copy to everyone and, in a short note, invite them to share the information with someone who could benefit from it. Tell attendees that if the other party contacts me to run a program for them as a result of receiving my handouts, I will provide the original attendee with a gift of a coaching session or products. This generates new business contacts.

FYI, my other blogs:

* for the time-pressured:

* for the oft-interrupted:

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eliminate "Um" "Ya know" "Like" - Opening Keynote

Patrica Kitchen, writing in Newsday reported years back that some celebrities over-use filler language such as "likes," "umms," "ya knows," "I means." Britney Spears, was caught uttering 73 "likes" and "ya knows" in a five-minute video interview.

Eminem and Michelle Wie, "used 15 'ya knows' and 'I means' in a one-minute interview. "
"A certain number of fillers are normal, but when speakers flip into overuse, they can come across as unfocused and unprepared," says Judy Cavallo, a speech-language pathologist and director of New York Speech Solutions, which evaluates and treats speech disorders. Her first step is to heighten awareness among clients, who are "usually shocked" when she plays back tape recordings of them speaking.

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