Saturday, December 22, 2012

Create with Intent

Create with intent. It sounds so simple. It seems so obvious. If we are going to create an event experience, we should know some very basic things.
  1. Why is the organization hosting an event?  Always start with WHY.
  2. Who is our audience?
  3. What will create positive surprises for them?
  4. Where will you host the event (destination and specific venue)?
  5. How does the choice of location, and the timing / when of the event impact your design and development?
It is the answers that will guide the creation. Many producers and planners can write a great theme idea, but it is when the ideas have context that they will build on the core messages and leave your guests feeling connected to and understanding the cause they are supporting / the organization they work for / the association they belong to, and how this brings value to their lives.

When you can leave people feeling good about any of the above because you created with intention... well for me, that is when my job satisfactions is at its penultimate, and it is this feeling that keeps all of us in this demanding industry, in it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blah, blah, blah - Making presentations relevant

My tween-age daughter plays soccer, very seriously, and has played since she was in kindergarten. They have excellent coaches, parents who also take the game seriously, while making sure the girls enjoy the sport and the experience. Occasionally, the coaches will get a little overzealous in their descriptions of play, or how the team played and can get a bit long - winded in their motivational turf-side talks. Or as Julia described it when she was ten "Mom, we're just kids, don't they know after the first few minutes all we hear is blah, blah, blah?"
Don't you find yourself thinking the same thing in a meeting where Mr/Ms Agenda goes on and on about their topic that you might not find as fascinating as they do? How about when you attend a conference and find yourself in a session where you are being talked at for an hour? How much of this do you actually retain? Not only retain, but find a way to apply what is hopefully new knowledge or an interesting perspective to apply to your own situation?  
Imagine if... you are given some information, then given an exercise to help you process and apply that information. This might be some time where you work solo on a small exercise, or where you break into groups and discuss and share ideas about what has been presented bringing your own input and application. According to tested learning theory, we know that we retain 20% of what we hear, 40% of what we hear and see (making powerpoint / prezi / keynote potentially useful when used 'correctly') and 80% of what we see, hear and do something with. Let's face it, 100% of knowledge retention is not even that practical unless you are studying for a rote exam in university, but being able to extrapolate the bits of information relevant to you from a conference is highly valuable and can lead you on the way to new solutions or innovations that support your needs. There are so many ways to encourage your speakers in facilitating conversation, sparking ideas and leaving participants thoughtful, and inspired.

I am very excited to attend PCMA in Orlando in January, and honoured that in addition to the session I will present with Andrea Sullivan, to be part of their pay it forward program including facilitating the session on Peer2Peer Learning that was brainstormed by the PCMA Education Committee, and to see, hear and share what learning formats are working for people, and being able to integrate some of these into our client's meetings. I am excited to see friends and colleagues and to know that January offers some awesome knowledge sharing!

Eventprofs friends... let me know if I will see you there!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Can you smell the brimstone?

It was our annual Cookie Day, where the "girls" get together and bake, and boys and kids can come in time for dinner and to eat cookies and everyone gets to take cookies home. It is always a no holds barred conversation while we mix, roll and bake, and it is a day we wouldn't miss for anything.

Over the years we have been through sickness and health, lost grandparents and parents, survived cancer, had babies and more babies. The net result is that as I had the first children, they are the oldest and took on looking after the 6 kids under 6 years. When I went to check on them, my son had a gash under his eye inflicted by one of the kids and he sardonically said "welcome to hell". He smiled as he said it and dabbed disinfectant on the cut. Later on he came up for a cookie and asked "Can you smell the brimstone?" He did go back downstairs though, and we knew he would be ok.

Hell, true hell, would be what many families in Newtown, Conneticut experienced today when they dropped their children off at school in the morning and will come back to identify the body of their slain child. I can't imagine, most of us cannot imagine what devastation this would bring and will be lucky enough to never know. This is not the first and sadly not the last time we will see shootings in malls or schools, but it is always wrong.

Other versions of Hell are what many people live through every day, not ever having enough to eat, or not being warm at night. Those that suffer from addiction or abuse. There are many around us who know this as their daily routine, in the cities and towns where we live. 

Perhaps this is the right time of year to spend some time being a little kinder, and more thoughtful and reach out to those in need, in large or small ways as you can.  As the season marches towards its inevitable conclusion, hug your loved ones.