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Last week, I was back in event planning and production mode helping a client put together an internal event to launch a new initiative. This event had an interesting twist. While there were fewer than 200 attendees, the event was held inside a major indoor concert and sports venue. The dichotomy of hosting a relatively small group in a venue with thousands of seats (and the associated infrastructure to support them) reconfirmed some long-held event planning lessons and introduced some variations on other event planning practices. Doing my personal recap on the successful event, the lessons seemed worthwhile to share for those of you doing event planning or managing other creatively-oriented projects. Here are my 11 take-aways:

1. When you have a choice, pick the event venue with the greatest capabilities and expertise.

This will give you a big head start toward a successful production. Having just done an event at a venue with a permanent control room and a production team running it every day, the differences versus a hotel and hiring a production company to bring along a temporary setup were dramatic.

2. Insert emotion into the program wherever possible – ideally in every presentation.

Remember – the tougher it is to figure out how to put emotion into a presentation on a particularly dry topic, the more credit you’ll get from the audience for trying it.

3. Push your presenters to use more pictures than words.

It’s easier on both the presenter and the audience. Plus a great image can help inject needed emotion into a boring topic.

4. Make it clear to everyone when you have to move from a period of creative exploration into finalizing decisions for an event.

There may be additional opportunities to move back into creative time later. Acknowledge that shift with everyone as well. But at certain points, you simply have to decide and move on without introducing any more intriguing possibilities.

5. Work from a solid to-do list of critical items which need to be completed.

Work your list hard, but realize things may not get checked off in the order you’ve listed them or much before when you think they need to be done. Some of them may never get checked off, yet you’ll still have a tremendous event. That’s a signal to continue refining the way you determine what’s really critical.

6. Do whatever you can ahead of time.

While it’s boring to sit around and wait when you’re ahead of schedule, it’s fantastic when you’re in event planning mode. You’ll be really glad you were later when time’s running out.

7. If someone critical to the event is prone to running late, do whatever you can to remove roadblocks which will slow the person down.

That may be getting them food so they don’t have to stop for it, or securing a meeting room so they can make phone calls and keep business going while at the event. Whatever it is, remove the obstacles that could make them unavailable when you need them.

8. Don’t empower five people to direct things.

Identify a clear decision maker who will make the decisions which need to be made – in real time. Have one person (either the same or a different person) who is the sole person to communicate changes to production people. This will make for greater clarity and a better event. It also demonstrates you’re thinking about #9.

9. Be nice to the production team.

This group will make or break you, so treat the team in a way which predisposes them to want to “make” you (and the event) successful. That doesn’t mean you don’t challenge things. It does mean, though, you say “please,” “thank you,” and other words of encouragement at every opportunity.

10. Stay calm, especially during pre-production.

When you’re working with pros, pre-production and rehearsal time is the opportunity to experiment, test, and be creative. While rehearsals and walk-throughs can look and feel like disasters, the final event almost never reflects the gaffes you see the day, morning, or even the hour before the event is live.

11. Always bring some pain relief medication to the event.

Somebody will need it, trust me.  – Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Some Monday quick thinking on priorities, success, and several other frequently touched upon topics on the Brainzooming blog:

Priorities – Don’t be reluctant to over-invest your time where it matters. Run away from even small time investments on the wrong things, though.

Dependability – It’s fine when someone is honest & says they don’t know how to do something. When they wait to tell you until two months into a project, it’s quite another matter.

Support – Be very careful of accepting the hand of someone who is sinking in quicksand.

Opportunity – When asked to share your intellectual capital for free because there is lots of opportunity with the audience, ask what percent of the audience bought from those who went before you.

Success – There are already enough naturally occurring barriers to accomplishing your goals. Don’t erect additional artificial barriers to add to them. – Mike Brown


The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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If you’re blogging, there’s a reason why you write a blog post when you do. The reason you pick a certain topic when you write a blog post may be strategic and linked directly to your audience persona. Many times, though, the reasons aren’t so well-aligned. They may be based on convenience, silliness, frustration, or simply running out of other ideas. Thinking about this got me wondering about why I write a blog post on any given day. Going back through the Brainzooming blog during the last few months, here are 28 reasons that have prompted me to write a blog post:

1.  I have something to say.

2.  Something occurs to me.

3.  I made a commitment to publish every day, and I need to publish a post.

4.  I’m hoping you’ll be interested in the subject matter.

5.  Enough tweets on one topic have built up to fill a blog post.

6.  There aren’t any guest blog posts to run.

7.  I want to share an idea with you.

8.  It’s an attempt to attract new readers.

9.  The topic interests me.

10. I’m trying to improve the blog’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy performance.

11. To create a new reference piece for you.

12. To create a new reference post for me so I can return to the information later.

13. Sharing what I learned at a conference or event.

14. It’s a way to complain about something.

15. I’m inspired by a topic.

16. I’m uninspired creatively.

17. The topic doesn’t require a long post.

18. The post is easily adapted from something I’ve already written.

19. It allows me to pass along advice to someone without having to say it directly.

20. It’s an experiment.

21. To thank or show appreciation to someone publicly.

22. Because somebody asked me to write about it.

23. It’s all I can come up with at the time.

24. I want to make sure a specific person sees the post because they need its lesson.

25. Somebody did some really cool work that needs to be shared.

26. There hasn’t been a social media-related post for several days.

27. It’s an opportunity to provide additional information related to a presentation I’m doing.

28. To see if I can twist an off-the-wall topic to be about strategy, creativity, or innovation.

So along with the idea that any subject can be a blog post, it’s clear that there are scads of reasons for writing a blog post.

If you’re on the fence about blogging or you write infrequently because you’re not feeling the creative motivation, realize you don’t have to have a single motivation to blog.

For those of you blogging already, what reasons spur you to take on the blog topics you write about? Let me know in the comments! 

And for all the reasons TO WRITE, there are also reasons to NOT WRITE a blog post. One of them is that I don’t run a post on Good Friday, so the next post will be Monday.  –  Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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How portable is your personal brand to another job? This question came up talking with a blog reader after a Brainzooming training presentation. We were discussing the possibilities of moving her personal brand to a new job, having worked at a large corporation for a decade and feeling topped-out in her career path. Despite very positive sentiment from internal clients, the company had gone through senior management changes that left her without a strong senior advocate for her contributions and career.

Discussing her career options, I tried to help weigh the potential upsides and challenges of moving to another company. She had a concern about leaving and uprooting her 10-year career and the very strong relationships she’d built up over time.

I reminded her that these relationships hadn’t been handed to her; she’d cultivated productive relationships through hard work and delivering results. Her skills would serve her well no matter where she might go.

Then, almost as an afterthought, she mentioned the nearly complete turnover among her internal clients within the past 18 months.

I asked if she realized what she had just said.

If her internal clients had all turned over in the last year and a half, that meant she had developed these incredibly strong relationships with a nearly new set of people. Instead of taking years to create such favorable perceptions, she was creating strong relationships within just a few months.

When viewed from that perspective, the potential relationship-focused downsides of moving on vanish. Suddenly, her personal brand looks incredibly portable to another organization.

And you know what?

She had a goal of securing a new job within a few months, and that’s exactly what she did.

How about your personal brand and the prospects of taking it someplace else? Is your personal brand a lot more portable than YOU give it credit for being? Maybe it’s time to start exploring your options.  – Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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1

In a recent post about how to creatively write a business book,  I discussed how captivated I was by Eli Goldratt’s book The Goal. Not only did the book introduce me to some profound insights on productivity, it reminded me how much I like the novel as a format for understanding new and interesting concepts, particularly in a business setting.

But not everyone is a novelist and maybe not everyone enjoys fiction as much as I do. That doesn’t mean that you are limited to presenting your new ideas or learning new things in ways that cling to the old formula of long blocks of text interrupted only by footnotes and chapter headings.

Two printed book series that do a really excellent job of breaking those constraints (nod to Goldratt there) are the Head First books and the Stikky books.

The Head First series focuses mostly on computer programming languages and applications, but also includes such topics as Algebra, Statistics, and Data Analysis. (Here the author of Data Analysis book provides an interesting take on what he learned about writing from doing it.)

The Head First books all rely on a boatload of illustrations and examples. They usually start with a multi-dimensional problem that you, the reader, want to solve. The book then applies the concepts and tools of the language, application, or field of study in leading you through the different steps to solving the problem.

They are all written in second person and encourage (even demand) your interaction in moving through the steps of the problem—and not in the rhetorical or end of the chapter “things to ponder” way, but rather in concrete ways such as identifying errors, doing calculations, choosing among alternatives, specifying language, etc.

The Stikky books are fewer in number (only four titles, on subjects as diverse as weight management, stock charts, and astronomy), but in some ways even more purposeful in their presentation. The psychological foundation behind the format of the books includes learning theory, reader motivation and stimulus-response image design. They use small units, an illustration on every page, frequent testing of what has been covered, and a task orientation among other principles.

You may not want to know about how to program in Java or what to look for in the night sky, but the creative format and execution of both these series of books is something that can help any of us whose jobs require that we communicate complex or abstract information in a way that is clear and meaningful.  – Barrett Sydnor

 

For an additional creative boost, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Some Monday quick thinking on adaptability, trust, and several other frequently touched upon topics on the Brainzooming blog:

Adaptability – If your life situation won’t let you swing for the fences, make sure your lineup is filled with high-percentage hitters who can run like crazy.

Trust – You’re not always going to be able to do business with only people you trust. When you can’t avoid it, make sure not to lose the handle on your own honesty and ethics.

Motivation – Ask, “What’s this person’s motivation for the sensationalized world view they’re sharing with me?” It’s often to create fear to get you to do what they want.

Priorities – When you have someone who keeps asking and asking for help with nothing ever in return, remember it can feel really good to say, “Sorry, you’ve got me confused with somebody who still cares.”

Longevity – There’s a lot to be said for newness. There’s more to be said for performing incredibly well day-in-day-out for more than a few months. – Mike Brown


 The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Following-up the innovation and creativity training presentations I did yesterday at CreativeBloc 2011, here are 11 Brainzooming posts on enhancing your personal innovation perspective. These can personal innovation tune-ups come in handy when you need to work on making sure you’re not putting any of the NO’s into the inNOvation challenges you may be facing:

7 Lessons to Get Ready for Change Now – Set yourself up to be your most innovative with pre-planning.

Get on a Roll, Get Results – The value of pushing beyond typical constraints to build a string of improvements.

The Strategy for Exploiting Your Mindless Job – When you have untapped mental capacity in your job, take advantage of it to innovate in new areas.

Black and White Decision Making? Today, Change to Grey (and Vice Versa) – There are benefits to consciously changing your typical decision making style, even if temporarily.

Patience – Strategic Advantage or Disadvantage? – How patience will help you (and some ways it won’t) strategically.

2 Easy Strategies for Tackling Social Media – One App at a Time – With so many new applications flying at us weekly, here’s how to stay current without taking too much time.

Trendspotters’ Fab Five – Five vital perspectives to effectively identify trends suggesting potential innovation opportunities. This is a Blogging Innovation guest post.

Forgetting as an Innovation Strategy – Why letting go of your knowledge and experience can be vital to innovation efforts.

How Does Magic Happen? – Glitz is important to creativity and innovation, but hard work and determination are equally important.

When People Don’t Understand There Are Lots of Ways to Be Right – Finding ways to deal with a negative environment that’s hostile toward innovation.

3 Ways to Generate Innovative Business Ideas When You’re Very Experienced – Three ways to counteract the limitations experienced people can place on innovation efforts.  – Mike Brown

 

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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