Archive for the ‘Audience Engagement’ Category

Snapshot: Seminar 2.0

May 23, 2010

Yesterday I produced a seminar for Meeting Professionals International. We used Skype to host a Subject Matter Expert (above). We were able to view and hear her via the projector and speakers that were set-up in our room as she streamed her lecture from her laptop. The  SME was able to view the audience on her computer. What a great way to spice up your next seminar!


Biggest Bang for the Buck!

May 6, 2010

The Society for Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) has asked me to say a few words at an upcoming meeting May 12. The SGMP asked if I could tailor my chat towards giving advice for both the exhibitor and attendee on getting the most “bang for the buck” at trade shows.

My goal is to leave both exhibitors and attendees with a quick takeaway for maximizing their time at a trade show. Here is a sneak peak:


  • Attendees spend the least amount of time on the trade show floor. Ahead of time create a tight, focused list of people you want to meet with, be proactive and try and set-up appointments with these people. Also, you may need to meet them at one of the seminars that they are attending or invite them out for breakfast, lunch, dinner or coffee.


  • Create a list of things you want to learn about, as well as companies and people you wish to meet with. Be direct and set up appointments and time to network with people who can benefit your organization and your career.

Change the way you have been doing things at trade shows. Be proactive. Get out of your comfort zone. Get results.

What has caught your eye at a trade show lately? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

The Progression of Audience Voting

April 20, 2010

Do you remember watching Star Search with Ed McMahon. The best episodes always had the challenger and champion caught in a tie. The winner was then determined by the audience. The cameras would cut to the audience (all dressed in great late 80s clothes) holding a small key pad with two buttons. The excitement was at an all-time high simply by engaging the audience and a sure fire way to engage people is by asking for their input. But technology has allowed us to evolve in the way we  track the audience’s responses.

I recently produced an event that used enotes, an interactive laptop software that captures and measures the audience’s feedback. The results were nothing short of astonishing!

Enotes has two primary functions:

  1. Instant Messaging: Attendees can submit feedback in their own words, instead of just checking a box on a one-size-fits-all questionnaire
  2. Interactive Voting: This function leaves endless possibilities, like using enotes to receive real-time feedback on presenters or as a great way to wrap up a meeting and gather suggestions

Bottom line; it is much easier to successfully measure audience engagement by collecting their full thoughts rather than just asking them to select a one-size-fits-all multiple choice answer.

Have you been to a corporate event that used technology to capture real-time feedback? If so, leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it!

The Secret to Event Production Success

April 10, 2010

Many types of businesses have a very complex formula for success. However, the key to success in event production is deeply rooted in planning and delivering two important concepts; big and little ideas. Excellent corporate event production is similar to winning a baseball game. You need big, home-run type ideas to put runs on the board and deliver instant engagement. However, a good baseball team doesn’t neglect to perform the simple, fundamental tasks as well!

Jim Belushi performing with the Sacred Heart Band

A great example of a big idea I used during a sales force reception was inviting Jim Belushi and the Sacred Heart Band (above) to perform. Belushi and his band brought down the house and put energy and excitement into a company that was looking for a spark to get their team going. Needless to say, the mission was accomplished.

But as I mentioned one should never over look the little things that make a great event. For instance, have your C-Level team go from table to table and shake hands with everyone in the room. It may not seem like much but this is the type of gesture that really resonates with attendees.

It’s like I’ve always said, big Ideas can make impressions but little ideas can leave lasting impressions.

Have you been to a corporate event that had a great mix of big and little ideas? Tell me about it by leaving a comment!

Snapshots: GranTree Reunion

April 6, 2010

I recently released a few posts about the GranTree reunion I attended in beautiful Las Vegas! Here are a few shots from our weekend event:

Doing what I love, producing and overseeing corporate events!

Don't we look like the Rat Pack version 2.0? Gotta love Vegas!

Having fun and keeping the event lively is the key to having audience engagement. Plus, it is just plain fun to see your friends and colleagues looking silly

I have a request, show me your favorite shot you’ve taken at a corporate event or reunion lately! I’d love to see it.

Snapshot: Does Your Team Building Look Like This?

March 5, 2010

Does your team building activities look like this?

If you answered yes, you probably attended the event I produced for Monsanto’s DeKalb Genetics’ national sales meeting. The theme “Chart the Course” was wonderfully depicted during the first day when we constructed a stage that resembled the front of a boat. On the second day, attendees were pushed to their max in a team building activity that placed them on one of six America Cup boats and taking part in a sailing regatta (that’s a sailboat race for you land lovers)!

You can learn more about DeKalb Genetics’ 2-day meeting here.

Have you been to an amazing team building activity? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Engaging Event Participants to Generate Bottom-line Results

October 27, 2009

It’s time for a new approach to meeting design.

Companies today are typically speaking to a new generation of tech-savvy participants who demand a different approach. Audiences today want to be engaged participants, not passive recipients of information. Adept at using social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, meeting attendees are accustomed to receiving information in real-time and engaging in two-way dialogue.  As a result, they have now come to expect the same level of intimacy in their business interactions.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Earlier this summer, I was retained by Sun Healthcare Group and challenged by senior management to “shake up the agenda.” We were asked to provide a venue and environment that would be more interactive and engaging for the participants.  The goal was to create a learning experience to teach 430 Sun Healthcare managers how to build a more collaborative organizational culture and implement new ideas more quickly.

I decided to work with and Disney Institute (DI), two innovative organizations I would highly recommend.  DI gave the participants an inside-out look at Epcot and talked about how to foster innovation. Using FacilitatePro collaborative meeting software, DI then led several 90-minute brainstorming sessions.  Questions posed included how to build a more collaborative culture and how to implement new ideas more rapidly. The intent was to generate fresh ideas that did not require lengthy approval cycles and the business lines could begin to implement within 72 hours.

A whopping 800 ideas were generated, consolidated, and prioritized using FacilitatePro.

The top eight ideas were handed to each business line and another round of brainstorming and prioritizing took place.  Each business line then selected two ideas and developed an action plan for implementation.

In two days the management team generated a huge number of creative ideas, surfaced the most promising ones, and began the planning process. Not only did they develop creative solutions, but the level of engagement and overall experience was a catalyst for cultural transformation.

Connecting the Dots

Although Sun Healthcare meetings were always well received, the 2009 survey responses showed significant improvement.  Several dozen participants said it was the best and most productive conference they ever attended.

What made the difference? I compared the time spent in one-way presentations versus two-way engagement from one year to the next. Compelling results included:

  • Time allotted to one way PowerPoint presentations was cut in half from 50.6% to 24.0%.
  • Number of interactive presentation methods such as brainstorming, a field trip outside the hotel, and active participation in general session presentations more than doubled from 26% to 58%.

It’s clear that the Sun Healthcare audience enjoyed the increased number of participatory activities. Equally important, however, is we were able to surpass the executives’ expectations and provide an environment where managers produced ideas they could readily implement.

The Bottom Line

First and foremost, today’s audiences want to be engaged. They want to actively participate and be part of the conversation. They want more time to meet people face-to-face. And they want to have a voice in deciding the future of their organization.

Meeting attendees have spoken:  As meeting planners we need to step up  and deliver what they are asking for.

Other Thoughts

Has increased interaction and participation translated to more productive meetings and events for your organization?  Tell me your thoughts.

For more ideas on designing high-tech high-touch meeting events, read  A New Approach to Meeting Design: Engaging Event Participants to Generate Bottom-line Results.