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Home > Article: If a Panel, a Q&A, and a Keynote Speaker Had a Baby…

Article: If a Panel, a Q&A, and a Keynote Speaker Had a Baby…

An article from Meetings.Net on a recent keynote I did in Orlando….

Carroll digitalnow_0

The key to engagement? Not only to change up the seating and format, but to hire speakers who are not afraid to shake up the event, and who know enough about the meeting content to answer a variety of questions in meaningful ways.

DigitalNow’s creative Collaboration Sessions engaged the keynoter speakers with the audience in ways that felt fresh and unscripted.

Some 250 association executives and technology experts who gathered at the Hyatt Regency Orlando last week for digitalNow experienced a creative approach to the traditional keynote. Each morning’s general session, which featured a thought leader on a big idea, was followed by a “Collaboration Session.”

Fusion Productions, the Rochester, N.Y.–based company that organizes the forum, and which specializes in new communications technologies aimed at educating and motivating, crafted the staging and format for these creative Collaboration Sessions. They were an interesting blend of a panel, which asked follow-up questions, interspersed with questions from the audience, all facilitated by a skilled moderator.

The staging made for interesting engagement. For example, for the opening morning Collaboration Session, keynoter Jim Carroll, futurist and innovation expert, sat on stage in a director’s chair, with the moderator standing just off to his side. The room was set in crescent rounds. The three panelists, all association CEOs, and thought leaders in their own right, sat in director’s chairs positioned approximately in the middle of the room, spread out in a semi-circle. They posed a variety of smart questions to Carroll, which were seemingly unrehearsed and which he candidly answered (as candidly as one who foresees future trends can answer). The audience piped in on occasion to ask questions, or sent questions via text messaging to the moderator, who skillfully interspersed meaningful comments and questions throughout.

The key to engagement? Not only to change up the seating and format, but to hire speakers who are not afraid to shake up the event, and who know enough about the meeting content to answer a variety of questions in meaningful ways.

Carroll, who in a later interview said he prides himself on being the “content guy who loves to get into the meat of the issue,” when hired by an association or company to keynote. “There’s always an overriding theme or challenge when I talk to the association CEO,” he says. “I get frustrated when an association confronted with big challenges hires ‘Shark Tank’ people as their keynoters. They’re choosing that over content?”

Because he’s hired by so many associations, and writes columns for association magazines, Carroll understands the association business. “Many associations’ annual events are on autopilot. Same old title, same old speakers, they talk about the same old stuff,” Carroll continues. “I see a need in the association world for short-term strategic meetings.” He also sees the need for video learning, particularly among younger people.

Bottom-line, says this futurist, face-to-face meetings will always be part of our future, because “at the end of the day, it’s about getting together for a wine or a beer” to discuss the day’s events and the business at hand. “You can’t do that virtually.”

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