News

Conference News column, July 2008
July 8th, 2008 12:53 pm

I'd just done a session for 30 nurses as the final two days of a medical conference. It was after a great lunch, on a Saturday, so the attendees were still a bit jaded from the night before. The other presentations had been specialist, heavyweight, serious. Now it was my turn. Clearly I was expected to throw out some useful ideas, but laced with some light-hearted stories from the front line of speaking. I was due to do 60 minutes. In the end I had done nearly two hours, I think mostly at their request, and had walked off to lively applause. It felt good; smiles and handshakes all round. And the first assessment sheet I picked up after the delegates had left said about my session, "it was okay, but I'd have preferred it without the dreadful jokes." Cue long face for fragile-ego Speaker. You see, I've always thought that humour is always essential, in pretty much every situation. It breaks down our natural reserve, opens up conversations, and can be the shortest bridge between dif...

Conference News column, June 2008
June 8th, 2008 1:00 pm

Now, I am, as you will have gathered, 6 foot 2 inches of physical perfection. Yet more and more I see and hear about people - especially the under 30s - suffering from all sorts of weird complaints. I mean, take food labelling; I'm slightly allergic to shellfish; consuming it will lead to a sight reminiscent of the head-spinning scene in The Exorcist, but I've always managed to avoid the offending little blighters. It's not difficult - I know where cooks put them! And there seems to be misunderstanding of what is meant by 'allergies'. For the record (and because I love sharing my incredible depth of knowledge), a food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food protein, known as an allergen. In serious cases, people diagnosed with severe allergy may carry an autoinjector of epinephrine. The most common food allergies in adults are shellfish (that's me) peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and eggs. Of course, as organisers we have to be very careful to label food correctly b...

Conference News column, April 2008
April 8th, 2008 12:57 pm

'You are so right, Richard,' is a cry I often get from my delegates. And it's not just when I say "I'm sure it's my round.' My sessions on event planning clearly show how vital it is to have long enough lead times that ensure corporate live marketing activities can be planned effectively. And, of course, there is a direct correlation between the factors of time and cost; if you don't plan far enough in advance, the opportunity to negotiate diminishes and the delivery of events will simply involve large sums of money being hurled to buy organisations out of trouble. 'But what can we do?' My audiences are predominantly female, and their lower lips tremble in unison. 'It's our directors and senior managers who don't understand, and make impossible demands which means we're putting on huge events at short notice. We daren't say no, and we never get the appreciation we deserve.' Well, there's a new answer for any event organiser who finds them self facing this dilemma, and sadly it no...

Conference News column, February 2008
February 8th, 2008 11:18 am

Despite being in fine fettle, I was pondering the question 'what would you like written on your gravestone', one of these bizarre questions that appears in games which, like creme de menthe, only appear at Christmas. Now my preferred choice would be something like 'position still vacant', but in reality it would be more appropriate to have something like 'always right, but no-one listened'. Why? Because I tell you stuff, dear readers, and the response is either to ignore me, or get huffy because they don't want to face the truth. I was thinking that as I browsed an edition of The Daily Telegraph - not my usual read - and came across an article which once again proved this point. It stated that there is now scientific evidence that our brains are unable to effectively process information if it is spoken to us while we are reading. According to Professor John Sweller, at the University of New South Wales, having someone speak and point to a screen full of facts and figures at the s...

Conference News column, January 2008
January 1st, 2008 12:00 am

2007 was a good year for RJA, but my accountant gave me the heads up that this month the Taxman was going to want his share. Swallow hard, sigh deeply, reach for the corporate chequebook, and be grateful we've had the opportunity to earn it in the first place. But maybe it isn't all bad news; according to the ever-optimistic David Cameron, of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, people actually want to give over their money. I must admit that even a hard-hearted bastard like me reaches for the phone, credit card in hand, to give in response to TV appeals for starving or distressed children/animals/event organisers. And that's an important point to consider when it comes to asking for payment for events. There's still a fear on the part of many organisers – especially those involved with exhibitions – about charging delegates to attend. I'm speaking at four forthcoming flagship industry events in the coming months, and I'm flattered to be asked, but isn't...