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Monday, November 10, 2014

Conference Calls - Opening Keynote


Is anyone paying attention to your conference call? Probably not: An illuminating article in the Atlantic offers startling news about what occurs on the other end of your conference calls. "More than 60 percent of respondents in survey admitted to doing other work or sending an email while on a conference call." So, each of us needs to be highly compelling to capture and hold the attention of the people on the other end of the line.

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Creativity Counts - Opening Keynote

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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Friday, October 24, 2014

Anyone Paying Attention? - Opening Keynote

An illuminating article in the Atlantic offers startling news 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. What this means for each of us is that 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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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Coffee for Coffee Fiends - Opening Keynote

An astounding one half of all American adults spend $1000 on coffee every year. So, it appears that long and generous coffee breaks at conferences are likely to prove popular.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Powerpointless - Opening Keynote

Based on one study, what audiences find irritating about Powerpoint presentations:

   * speaker read the slides 60%
   * text too small to read 51%
   * text too wordy 48%

   * poor color choices 37%
   * moving text or graphics 25%
   * irritating sounds 22%

   * complex charts 22%

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Sunday, October 05, 2014

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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Friday, October 03, 2014

Confusing Action with Interaction - Opening Keynote

in Special Events Blog has penned a masterpiece that every speaker and ever 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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