Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Your Speaker Can Do for You

I was reminded this week of the reasons why speaker selection is critical, and it made me think about some of my favorites, which I will share in a next post, and then I was also reminded of great tips for your conferences on building content and some of things we could do better.

One of the first posts that twigged this was from Adrian Segar on why we don't find paying for content valuable when we are asking "experts" to be part of our event. Some very valid points in the post and in the comments.

For choosing and then maximizing speaker contributions, thank you Mark J Carter for these tips from your session in The Future Events Experience at AIBTM on WHY you want to partner with your speakers to lead to better content to lead to better experiences. It is about first considering WHO will attend, WHAT do they need from your meeting, WHY you will help them when they attend, and WHERE are they looking for information. Once you deep dive into these questions, you can begin to select speakers that make sense. 

What can your speaker do for you? Here are some suggestions for cross promotion once you have identified WHY you want the speakers to market for your event (beyond the obvious they are speaking there).  This is of course dependent on WHERE you will find your audience - you want to market where they are (google, association website, twitter, email etc.)
* Have speakers do mini videos on what people will gain by attending - post to their site and yours if appropriate
* Write a blog about what they will speak on and link to and from conference site
* Have speakers share their content on social media, linking to conference when that is appropriate

Sponsors are a critical point for all conferences, and have them be part of your content promotion. They should be a sponsor because there is a market match, so having them share your event information makes sense. Make sure you help by providing the information they need to do so, you will be doing both your events and your sponsors a service. 

What is next? BXBOnline is doing some very cool content applications with BobTV that will offer the industry some ways to share we have not yet been using. As we continue to "want what we want, when we want it" for our career, life, business, this will become a very interesting tool to watch.

Content plus context plus presentation style = successful learning, retention, connect-the-dot-ability - have fun in the process!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Interview with David Merrell on BizBash IdeaFest

With BizBash IdeaFest coming up soon in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to talk with David Merrell, president and creative director at AOO Events about the workshop he will be facilitating which will mentor planners through "Brainstorming Your Way to Better Events."  After talking with David, I felt we had just scratched the surface of this topic, and I encourage anyone who is designing events and experiences who is at IdeaFest to make sure you stop by and join this conversation.  Below you will find some of the questions I asked and David’s responses.

TE: Thank you for taking the time to talk to day. Can you tell me first how you approach brainstorming in your own team?
DM: It is important to have multiple perspectives and we include producers, designers, our VP of Operations and those who want to have their voice heard – ideas and seeds of ideas can come from people you least expect.  I will start with a description of the client, the event and what they want to accomplish.  We make it clear that we are here to share ideas and “no idea is stupid – throw it all at us” and then let it flow, capturing the ideas where we can all see them.

TE: Do you have any tips for drawing ideas out of quieter people? 
DM: We are in an industry and company full of strong “A-Type personalities” and we are brainstorming to share ideas, and if you don’t want your voice to be heard, it won’t be.  We have had people that we stopped inviting to these sessions because they were not contributing, and when we talked about why they were not attending, they returned, and returned to have their ideas heard, and their contributions have been great.

TE: Do you brainstorm with key vendor partners – and when would you choose this approach?  I ask this as we live in our world of events filled with “competitive colleagues” and often challenging RFP processes.
DM: In an RFP I don’t want to completely design out the event so less engagement at this stage is normal.  You don’t want to give ALL your clever ideas and total design away!  It should be taken on a case by case basis.  The exception to this would be if we need really clever ideas around entertainment or technology in particular, as these change so quickly, and sometimes it will be that one clever idea the focuses the client and wins the business. Once we know that we have the business then we want to bring in the best and brightest of our partners and together collaborate to make each event the best it can be using all our resources and ideas.

TE: When is it appropriate to do a brainstorm with clients – vs guiding them from your own experience and brainstorming around their event / How do you guide your clients through the process to collaborative success?
Note: this next part of our interview became a rather passionate discussion as Dave and I completely agree that our industry has set itself up for a backwards approach to successful design.
DM: The biggest challenge with the RFP process is that corporations completely skip this step of including their creative teams. Clients should be hiring for ideas and expertise but in the RFP they ask for one set of ideas with firm budgets attached, but without any collaboration or discussion. For example, when you are hiring an interior designer you select based on their portfolio, experience and fit with your needs and then you decide on a retainer and begin designing. Event designers should also be engaged in this way, rather than in an RFP that is about buying stuff rather than focused on creativity or contribution to the process.  

TE: Let’s talk about the timing of brainstorming.
DM: Clients would be best served to bring us in early and share objectives, and then you can build  a team that offers a variety of perspectives, different lenses to view the ideas through, particularly when we are working alongside agency partners in PR and Marketing.  Here the producers, event designers and vendor partners have the depth and experience to take the great experiential ideas and concepts that clients may be dreaming of, and determine ways to execute these in a meaningful and memorable way.  You will be able to brainstorm ways to accomplish their objectives in ways that would never have been addressed if you are not engaged early enough. 

TE: How did you learn how to brainstorm and do you have a favorite approach?
DM: I got really good at understanding brainstorming when I first became involved with my local chapter of ISES, in various leadership roles up to President of ISES-Los Angeles.  You have to move a strong group of talented individuals through a collective process as a Board, understanding there are egos involved, perspectives to consider, and that you must exercise patience and inclusion.  If you let your own ego get in the way, you will have one dimensional ideas. There is always more power in collaboration and inviting a third set of eyes will allow you to see things you don’t see on your own.

TE: Any final thoughts?
DM: Enroll everyone in the content of an idea and then stand back, the ideas WILL start flowing!

David Merrell will be mentoring planners in the Workshop Series at BizBash IdeaFest Los Angeles on June 19 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more information, and to register, please visit

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Smells Like

My Meeting Smells Better than your Meeting. Really? Really!
Jars of (smell) memories at a Night Circus,
produced by Cantrav Services 

At AIBTM next week in Chicago the Future Events Experience will include this session (presented by me!) along with many other snappy bites of information that will be an excellent addition to the time you spend on the show floor, as either an exhibitor or a hosted buyer.

What will I be talking about? The neuroscience of meeting design of course. The more we are learning about learning, and the impact of elements including scent, the food we provide, the use of music and the environment we create, the more we can create positive experiences that people will be talking about. 

Stop by and add your thoughts and ideas. If you don't see me here, I will be around the Vancouver booth (1423) where we will be learning more about apps and sharing information on why meeting in our gorgeous destination will benefit your organization.

Hope to see you there!