News

Conference News column, February 2013
March 29th, 2013 10:35 am

As you know, dear reader, writing these columns; whilst a genuine privilege; is not my main job. However, as well as talking to wonderful people like you, it offers other great opportunities, such as the occasional fam trip. What happens is an exotic location will decide to run a visit for a select group, The invitation will be sent to our editor. If he's washing his hair, it's then offered through the organisation; deputy editor, researcher, junior editor, receptionist, security guard, strange man who loiters outside the building shouting at pigeons and smelling of wee - before finally reaching me. And I've enjoyed some fantastic trips; which hopefully have been rewarded by some publicity; and which led to me creating a presentation on fam trips which I delivered at EIBTM last year. I'll chuck a few salient points at you, in case you're thinking of planning such things. Firstly, choose your groups carefully. I've been with parties composed entirely of UK MICE writers, and we wer...

Conference News column, January 2013
March 29th, 2013 10:26 am

So Max Bygraves has gone to the great music hall in the sky; no more will we hear his catchphrase 'I wanna tell you a story'. It was a great strapline, keeping him gainfully employed for 70 years. Daniel Goleman, who coined the phrase 'emotional intelligence', states, 'good storytelling is a hallmark of effective leadership.' And Roger Edward Jones, who coaches corporate leaders on communication points out that people are 20 times more likely to remember a fact if it's told as part of a story. And you know this, dear reader. You were told stories as a child and continue to do so as a parent and drinking companion. The comedians enjoying sellout tours across the UK – think Macintyre, Bishop, Millikan – tell entertaining shaggy dog stories, not a series of jokes. And some of the earliest cave drawings clearly show Ug waking Stig by making a noise like a hungry pterodactyl. Your religious views and moral standpoints will be built on parables, itself a w...

Conference News column, December 2012
December 1st, 2012 11:29 am

Some people might regard being brilliant as a curse. Not for me; no, when I'm proved right again I just shrug and go 'told you so.' My latest confirmation of total genius came with the news that a group of activists gatecrashed the Banking Awards ceremony. The video is available online – have a look at the face of host Peter Sissons; as he realizes what happens he has an expression like he's having his prostate checked - by Abu Hamza. Now, these were nice protestors; smartly dressed Rosie Rogers walked on to the stage to give an award to Barclays for their 'innovative manipulation of the Libor rate.' Harsh, but clever, and no danger to anyone. But two weeks earlier, David Hartnett, the former Treasure boss (I'm adding in the words 'devious' and 'incompetent' but my editor will remove them for legal reasons - probably) was awarded prizes from the same group at an Oxford banquet. For those of you whose daily news comes from 'Heat', rather than the FT, let me e...

Conference News column, November 2012
November 2nd, 2012 6:42 pm
Sign of the Times Part of my illustrious career history includes being event manager for a major assurance company, long swallowed up by an insurance giant. I was always aware that a change in legislation could mean a dramatic change to the industry. And that's why I spent as much time training staff on the intricacies of events as I did in organising them. So, next year, when new laws on commission payments come into force, it's estimated that more than 3000 independent financial advisers (IFA's) will go out of business within a few months. IFAs are selling their practices in some cases, for whatever they can get as fast as possible. Historically, big financial companies paid commissions to IFAs of between 5 and 9% - so that the IFAs could sell them on 'for free'. Residual fees, known as trail commission, meant the incentive to sell or miss-sell - financial products was high, and in the following decades a number of major scandals appeared (endowments, pensions, and, more re...
Conference News column, October 2012
October 4th, 2012 2:42 pm

You may have heard of Tony Robbins, a 'Peak Performance Coach', who's also blagged his way into guest appearances in movie classics such as 'Shallow Hal.' One of his strategies is to get delegates to walk across hot coals, although at a recent event this left some of those attending nursing very blistered feet. Mr Robbins isn't alone in doing this; a number of major organisations have felt that this type of event is just what their staff need, although what staff actually ended up needing was medical attention. Those who lead such groups state injuries won't occur if people are in the right state of mind before completing the walk, a claim described by those of us with a measurable IQ as 'complete bollocks.' Should you care about the 'secret', it's simply about choosing the right kind of coals, and understanding basic physics around energy conduction and transmission. However, such activities remain popular with event organisers, who realize that, under the right circumstances, t...

Conference News column, August 2012
August 4th, 2012 1:01 pm

An infographic (an example of which this month replaces my lovely face) is a powerful, pictorial way of demonstrating a wealth of information. Take a look at how different types of coffee can be explained. Now imagine how deathly dull that would have been to try and explain to audience using points on a slide (of course, the best thing would be a practical demonstration, but there's a limit to how much caffeine even I can drink!) If you think that style could make your, or your colleagues, or your client's presentations far more interesting, then read on. Your audiences, with their diminishing attention spans, love these pretty pictures full of small, relevant, clearly-displayed nuggets of information. They're straight to the point, usually factually interesting and often drive home what those statistics really mean. And the great news is that there is a wealth of help freely available that can turn even the most unskilled computer user can use. So here are a few. Let's start wit...

Conference News column, July 2012
August 4th, 2012 12:57 pm

If you wondered why I forgot your birthday, it's because I've been outrageously busy, criss-crossing the globe, spreading my charm, wit and charisma, and filling the breach of curmudgeonly snide, yet strangely attractive void left by the demise of House, MD. And while there have been a variety of projects, the one constant theme seems to be the world of virtual and hybrid events. Yes, the future is that some of your audiences are going to engage with you from a different location; and no, that's not just a webinar or the family videocamera stuck forlornly in a corner and the results cobbled together by a smart 6 year old. Let me fill you in; I've been working with a team of bright young things on behalf of MPI, to research the market for such events, and produce useful research reports, case studies, how to guides and even a glossary of terms. If you're an MPI member (smart move) you'll have received a copy for free; if not, put your hand in your pocket, although it's worth payin...

Conference News column, June 2012
June 3rd, 2012 2:55 pm
A little snippet caught my eye from our splendid sister magazine CMW, where a conference in Australia had banned the use of PowerPoint. Now that must be worth going to. In a similar vein, I'm busy organising an event for September, when our speakers are instructed only to use pictures, not text (check out ij15m.com for more details). Yet simply banning PowerPoint does bring to mind expressions involving babies and bathwater. In the right hands it can be a fantastic tool; sadly, like most great thrillers, it ends up with the bad guys whose intentions are always evil. PowerPoint can really enhance a presentation and make a speech incredibly memorable. Sadly, in true iceberg analogy, most users only ever master a fraction of the potential. However, this month's key message is a reminder that PowerPoint is not the only package available. For example, Mac users such as myself have the vastly more impressive Keynote; however, as Macs lack the ubiquity of Windows we usually end up ex...
Conference News column, May 2012
May 1st, 2012 7:58 pm

Take a few minutes to bask in the loveliness of my new picture, and imagine this scenario. You've just spoken at a conference, and I've been sitting in the front row, nodding, making notes, smiling as you perform. And after you've walked off stage, you find me there waiting, arm outstretched. You stop, grasp my hand, and smile. And I say; 'I enjoyed your presentation, and find you very attractive. I wondered if you'd like to come back to my hotel for some really hot sex?' Now, I'm guessing (but prepared to be surprised) that this approach would probably have you stepping backwards and looking around desperately for help. I have to confess that it's an approach that's had limited success for me in the past. (Although there was this conference in Mainz….) I digress; let's take two. You walk off stage and there I am, but this time you hear the words, 'I enjoyed your presentation and thought you raised some really interesting points. I'd welcome the opportunity to discus...

Destination Report - Muscat
April 11th, 2012 3:13 pm

I'm hanging on to a fishing line with all my might and there's a whale on the other end. The sweat is pouring off me; the mercury is past 35 even though it's not yet 8.30 in the morning and this is mid-October. And the Captain is shouting instructions, and I'm winding the reel like a man possessed. Suddenly there's a thump against the side of the boat, and First Mate Jasim is leaning over the side with a wooden club. I'm glad not to see the coup de grace; I'm an omnivore, but one who prefers to remain in ignorance of the gory details. But the next minute there's a shiny yellowfin tuna staring sightlessly back at me, and it's time for a celebratory 7-Up. There are around a dozen pods of dolphins surrounding the boat, maybe 100 creatures all watching my success. Captain Nabeel explains, as I catch my breath, how they use mackerel as bait to persuade the dolphins to start chattering, which in turn brings along the prized tuna. Of course, Flipper is too smart to fall for the trick, a...