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I spoke for the third time recently as part of an internal leadership development program for a client organization.

Across the three creating strategic impact workshops, the client has made significant changes to its multi-day program. The modifications have had ripple effects on the creating strategic impact workshop, including changes to its location, length, day of the week, time of day, and room size / configuration.

We’ve also changed the workshop’s content and format each time to dial in the content specifically for the attendees’ complex needs.

That’s a lot of change.

And, at least from my perspective – and from attendee feedback – this recent workshop was the most successful presentation so far.

5 Ways to Help a Speaker Deliver a Successful Presentation at Your Event

Event-AudienceA major part of the success is the internal event organizer’s ability, determination, and eagerness to improve the overall program for attendees. Those positive characteristics spill over into her willingness to create an environment where the speakers can help her be most successful in her objectives.

Her willingness to share information and actively work with us is wonderful and NOT something you always receive as a speaker.

She knows details in five areas that allow a speaker to deliver a successful presentation, all for the benefit of the attendees, by providing:

  • Updated learning objectives for the event
  • A thorough description of the audience members, including the relevant current opportunities and challenges they face that speakers can help them address
  • What they know or will have learned before the workshop
  • The type of experience the client wants the audience members to have overall and from the workshop
  • Ways other speakers have successfully approached the audience previously

If you organize events or even a single speaker for a learning opportunity for your company or association, ask yourself whether you can address these five areas to help your speakers deliver for you and your attendees.

If you can’t address them now, it’s worth the time and effort to be ready to provide this information as you start recruiting a speaker you hope will deliver a successful presentation at your event. Mike Brown

 

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Mozilla-Chris-LawrenceThe Building the Gigabit City 2.0 event on February 13 in Kansas City was an incredible day in so many respects.

The Mozilla Foundation launched the event to stimulate proposal submissions for its $150,000 Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund in Kansas City.

The Brainzooming Group designed the afternoon interactive session for the day-long event. Throughout the afternoon, well over 100 participants imagined and described app and technology concepts to improve education, workforce development, digital access, and other areas within the Kansas City community and beyond.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0

With the number and range of participants at the majestic Kansas City Public Library, we recruited an extended team to facilitate six community-oriented tracks.

Our team included a mix of people – some we’ve known for a few months to others we’ve known for decades. All had facilitated, participated in, or tracked the Brainzooming strategic thinking methodology.

The fantastic strategic thinking session facilitation team included:

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Mike Brown (l), Alex Greenwood (r), and the Senior Living / Lifelong Learning team at work.

To ensure the facilitation team was ready to help participants work on new app concepts, we prepared a more than 30-page facilitator’s guide. The guide provided overviews on Mozilla objectives, background on each community group, and step-by-step overviews for using the Brainzooming exercises we designed.

Each facilitator brought their own expertise and experience to what we designed to bring it to life. We are so appreciative of everyone volunteering their time to make the event a success!

Strategic Thinking Learnings about the Brainzooming Methodology

Every time other people facilitate a Brainzooming strategic thinking session, it’s a fantastic learning opportunity both through facilitator comments and observing the groups. Among the strategic thinking learnings coming out of the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund session we designed:

  • The session emphasized how outcomes-based the Brainzooming methodology is. We start with what needs to come from a strategy session and design backwards, which creates a strong emphasis on production.
  • The Brainzooming methodology gains speed (the “zooming” experience) by eliminating elements that don’t add to the final output’s quality. That sometimes means participants (and facilitators) don’t get the context they’d like (even though the results suggest they don’t need it).
  • When you are monitoring group process but not facilitating, you rely on different cues. Rather than the content of the ideas, you depend on volume (of talking and of ideas), participant physical activity, posture, and eye contact as the primary signals for intra-session success.

Kudos to Kari Keefe of Mozilla and Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive who were the primary contacts Barrett Sydnor and I worked with leading up to the event.

Thanks also go to Alex Greenwood and the team at Alex G Public Relations for their work on, among other things, identifying the ideal spot above to do a video interview showcasing the visual impact of a Brainzooming session.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0 from LINC on Vimeo.

Now, we’re looking forward to seeing the variety of proposals coming forward to compete for funding! – Mike Brown

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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Over the past month, we’ve been designing a 150-person brainstorming session for the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund launch in Kansas City, Thursday, February 13, 2014.

The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund will invest $150,000 in the Kansas City innovation community (with an equal amount in Chattanooga, TN) to support “development, experimentation, and deployment of learning experiences and workforce development opportunities enhanced by next gen networks.”

Brainstorming-FacilitationOur objective for the Building the Gigabit City 2.0 brainstorming session is to build community and imagine concepts for how technology can address needs and aspirations in multiple community segments. These segments include K-12 and higher education, workforce development, digital inclusion, seniors and lifelong learning, and digital making and storytelling.

The scope and detail behind designing and producing a brainstorming session for such a large group is exciting. It’s also something we’ve become known for doing very successfully at The Brainzooming Group, starting with the first Building the Gigabit City event in 2011.

5 Keys for Successful Brainstorming with Any Group

To produce the Building the Gigabit City 2.0 event, we’ve assembled a fantastic team of individuals from Kansas City and beyond to help facilitate the Brainzooming session we designed for Mozilla.

Creating the facilitator’s guide for Building the Gigabit City 2.0, I included five keys for successful facilitation. Whether your creative thinking group is just a few people or approaches multiple hundreds, these five keys to successful brainstorming and facilitation for our extended team apply to any group:

1. The facilitator is present to serve the group, its strengths, and weaknesses.

Far better to reach the desired result and be forgotten as a facilitator than to be remembered for being part of the reason a group wasn’t successful.

2. Facilitators should be managing the group for the outcomes, not all the interim steps.

There may be a pre-planned flow to a brainstorming session, but the specific activities are less important than reaching the expected outcomes and deliverables.

3. One of the facilitator’s chief roles is managing and respecting participant time.

By sticking as best possible to the timing guidelines and keeping the session moving, you help create energy, focus, and productivity within the group.

4. You have a unique opportunity to draw out once in a lifetime creative thinking.

This group may never come together again, so this is the only opportunity ever for exciting creative thinking from these individuals as a team. Actively push, prod, stimulate, and cajole the group for more ideas throughout this precious time they are working together.

5. A facilitator is more important for creating “white space” than for sharing ideas.

Depending on how the group is progressing toward answers, cheer a lot, suggest a little, and say what YOU think the answers is only as a LAST resort. Try to answer their questions with questions. The group will get to where it needs to be, only if you give them sufficient room to explore.

What else?

I know we have other facilitators in the audience. What would you add to or subtract from this list of keys to for successful facilitation? – Mike Brown

 

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

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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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Peyton-FumbleWhat a start to the Super Bowl!

Twelve seconds into the game, the Broncos blow the first snap, and the Seahawks are on the board with a safety, 2-0. Based on what followed, the NFL Rules Committee will be evaluating a 12-second warning for next season when it’s clear a team is screwed on the first play of the game. Interestingly, I don’t think Volvo took advantage of the safety as part of a real-time marketing strategy. THAT was something a safety-oriented brand COULD have anticipated and been ready with something suited to social media, avoiding the $4 million Super Bowl advertising cost.

For my vote, Bud Light was the winner of paying out the pre-Super Bowl hype with its Ian Rappaport commercials (#UpForWhatever). A couple of commercial featured a supposedly non-actor (Ian Rappaport) who was introduced into a guy’s fantasy world (party girls, twins, alcohol, parties, loud music, beating Arnold Schwarzenegger at “tiny tennis”), and we found out how Don Cheadle and Arnold fit into the teasers. Unfortunately, just when I was ready to find out more about Ian, Bud Light went to a commercial featuring how great its bottles are. Huh? The bottles? REALLY?

Time for a confession: I start every Super Bowl advertisement asking, “Who is the brand?” I can’t get that tremendously distracting question out of my head until the sponsoring brand becomes clear. Since so many sponsors don’t show their cards until the last three seconds of an ad, I miss “getting” a lot of them due to the din of that question. Maserati and TurboTax (with dancing Sean) were both early examples of not saying who they were early enough in the advertisement.

My Best of Show for Super Bowl Advertising

I don’t know if these were the “best,” but I enjoyed these Super Bowl ads and could remember them by the end:

  • Doritos Time Machine (with a nice Colorado-based munchies feel to it)
  • Butterfinger Cups and the counseling session threesome (I know, I know . . . it was juvenile, but hey . . . )
  • U2 for being familiar and extending an offer for everyone. I prompted me to act to get a free (very sloooooooooow) song download at iTunes
  • John Stamos for Lap Yogurt (I know, I know . . . it was juvenile, but hey . . . )
  • Squarespace – Freaked me out initially, but it was at least clear that there’s a lot of crap on the Internet and Squarespace does SOMETHING to help you deal with the horrors and sex on the web
  • Tim Tebow for TMobile – It played on the T. It played on Tebow’s lack of a contract and all the “advantages” that provides. The guy may not fit a single NFL offensive system, but at least he can have fun with his persona.
  • The VW ad was about German engineers getting their wings when a VW passes 100,000 miles. We find out some German engineers have bigger wings than others (I know, I know . . . it was juvenile, but hey . . . ). We ultimately find that when a VW goes past 200,000 miles, “A rainbow comes out of their butts.” Yup, that was ALL in the ad.

Other Notable Super Bowl Advertising

GoDaddy gets something (even if it’s tepid acknowledgement) for finally moving away from salacious ads toward showing individuals who were using the web to create new realities for themselves. Realities where the people at least had their clothes on throughout the commercials.

Radio Shack was the winner of my “Let’s Wait and See Award.” I loved its self-deprecating take on the 1980s calling to ask for its store back (including Alf dismantling a display), but I thought Radio Shack had already remodeled its stores. Great Super Bowl ad, but the ad’s ultimate success will rest solely on the brand experience. It better not feel dated the next time I go to Radio Shack – which may be in the 2080s except I’ll be dead by then.

Based on the chatter at #SBExp, @DiGiornoPizza was the winner in New Jersey-true, insult-based real-time marketing tweets throughout Super Bowl 48.

My Losers, other than the Broncos

My Huh? List of Super Bowl advertisements included:

  • Chevy and cow breeding
  • Bob Dylan for Chrysler – If you’re going to do the same type of thing EVERY year, you have to keep beating yourself. Having someone known for being unintelligible do a very precise voice over, isn’t quite different enough.
  • Budweiser for its “Soldier Returning Home” ad – The soldier ABSOLUTELY deserves a #SaluteAHero welcome. But it was #crass for Bud to put its brand in the center of it. Bud is a beer, not a Hero Maker.
  • Any sappy ad (Coca-Cola, Budweiser puppies, Cheerios, and others) – I just WAS NOT in the mood for those types of ads this year.

Even though my list of losers is short, it seems that too many Super Bowl advertisers employed a strategy that was essentially: “Let’s throw $4 million against the Super Bowl and see what sticks.” That’s a really bad strategy, unfortunately.

Other Random Thoughts

That had to be the first time ever for a 5-0 score in the Super Bowl . . . I couldn’t believe Mars Bar didn’t do SOMETHING on social for the Bruno Mars half time show which, despite what some tweeters in the #SBExp circle thought, kicked ass compared to Beyoncé’s show last year . . . Based on his movie, Aaron Paul is apparently done with meth and now just needs speed . . . Yes, Budweiser failed to share a workable Twitter hashtag for its “Soldier Returning Home” ad. Not sure how a major corporation and its agency let that happen . . . Said it before: movie previews just don’t seem that special among  Super Bowl ads . . . I guess @JCPenney had a whole tweeting with mittens thing going that just looked like drunk tweeting to the uninitiated . . . I guess all those Omaha Sponsorship Deals are pretty much dried up for Peyton Manning.

Final confession? My enthusiasm for Super Bowl advertising has about run its course. Is that just me though? What do you think? Mike Brown

 

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In years past years I’ve watched the Super Bowl advertising extravaganza with a tight focus on evaluating each ad and the tools of persuasion used by their creators through rankings, analysis, etc.

This year–not so much. I watched with interruptions, people talking around me, showing me dog YouTube videos and Peyton Manning related tweets. In other words, how real consumers see the ads.

Something Old, Little New, and Lots of Red, White, and Blue

So, I won’t try “best” and “worst.” But certain ad themes do seem to show up every year so I picked a couple that stood out this year to me among the Super Bowl Advertising.

Super Bowl Advertising Theme 1: Didn’t You Used to Be Famous?

Again, a Super Bowl perennial. Appearances here included Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Bud Light Skankmobile, Bruce Willis for Honda safety, and everybody they could dredge up from the 80s for Radio Shack. Arnold and Bud Light should have been embarrassed and I wasn’t sure the Honda ad was ever going to end. But I just might go to Radio Shack and see what’s changed. Not because the ad was funny or beautiful or made both laugh and cry in 30 seconds, but because it got across the desired message: we’ve changed and we think it’s worth your time to see how. I also liked the Oikos ad. Not sure I ever watched a full episode of Full House, but this ad balanced the product, the actors and the inside baseball jokes in just the right way.

Super Bowl Advertising Theme 2: Patriotism

A perennial theme of Super Bowl ads. This year’s the efforts ranged from Chrysler’s return to Detroit only this time with Bob Dylan rather than Eminem, to Budweiser’s Hero Parade with the Clydesdales to Coke’s multilingual “America, the Beautiful.” The Chrysler and Bud ads were more replay than original. Coke broke some new ground, however, and apparently, riled up a few folks who thing “American” is a language. The patriotism themed ad I liked best was the one from WeatherTech. It hit right chords on buy Buy-American without being over produced or jingoistic. A relatively small company making a cut through the clutter message.

Other Super Bowl Advertising Stand Outs

Outside of those themes, there were four other ads I thought particularly good. Microsoft did a great job making technology seem human, General Mills made Cheerios seem timeless rather than old fashioned, Jaguar did much the same for its new F-Type, and Nestle put peanut butter inside chocolate in a whole new way. – Barrett Sydnor


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Tweet-SBEXPMany (Most? Nearly all?) brands face the brand strategy challenge of cutting through the clutter of other brands’ advertising and marketing. It may be clutter within a brand’s own category (at a trade show, in an industry publication) or across categories (in mass media, sponsorships, online).

No matter the types of clutter it’s battling, a successful brand strategy has to account for all the planned and random distractions getting in the way of its target audience receiving, experiencing, remembering, and acting on its message.

The brand strategy imperative to cut through the clutter in Super Bowl advertising has generated a wide variety of tactics never envisioned when the Super Bowl debuted including:

While these tactics sometimes work to cut through the clutter, they more often than not raise another form of clutter: internal clutter.

Internal clutter results when there is so much (or so little) going on within a brand’s own Super Bowl advertising (or any other advertising for that matter) that its audience is distracted from the core message the advertiser is trying to convey.

This phenomenon became more evident for me two years ago while watching Super Bowl advertising at a party instead of sitting in front of a TV and computer so I could tweet and blog about it. While watching the game amid a crowd, much of the Super Bowl advertising was there and gone without with little recognition of what it was trying to get across to the audience.

I’ll be at a Super Bowl party again this year and will be on the lookout for those ads not creating their own internal clutter. Will these be the Super Bowl ads that stand out from the loud, aggressive, complicated ones and register the biggest impact?

If you’ll be watching for Super Bowl advertising and want to tweet about it, you’re invited to join the Super Bowl Twitter Chat party #SBEXP (for Super Bowl Experience), hosted by author and branding expert, Jim Joseph. If you want to learn more about #SBEXP, Jim has a blog post on it. You can also learn more about Twitter chats (and the “rules” to make them even more fun) in a previous Brainzooming post as well.

And here’s to the brands that avoid 15-yard penalties for clutter come Sunday evening! – Mike Brown

 

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Magnet-MeetingThe theme of the Magnet Global advertising meeting where I spoke recently on creating strategic impact was building a legacy agency.

By building a legacy agency, they meant an organization that grows and retains value for an owner/principal as they transfer the organization to a next generation of leadership.

There were a variety of outstanding presentations. One in particular that struck me was from Bill Hughes, President of LMK in St. Louis.

A major part of what resonated for me in Bill’s remarks was his leadership perspective (he admitted leading best with a leadership team vs. solo leadership), and his willingness to make decisions to his detriment that benefitted others in order to strengthen the organization. His leadership perspective is not one you see extolled very often, yet it rings completely true for a genuine servant leader.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

One strategic maxim Bill Hughes shared that translates into a strategic thinking exercise was his view on the characteristics of productive client relationships. Bill counseled attendees to use three selection criteria for productive client work:

1. It creates learning for the organization

2. The work is enjoyable

3. It pays well

According to Bill’s perspective, you must have two of the three for productive work leading to a healthy, legacy agency.

Thinking about it, that makes perfect sense. Consider the classic strategic maxim, “Fast, cheap, and perfect – you can have two of the three, but not all three.” It is very comparable.

Strategic Thinking Exercise

Here’s the broader strategic thinking exercise. Whenever you are involved in a strategic relationship, express it with three criteria: two related to the experience and one to the value exchange.

You can this strategic thinking exercise at the front end of a relationship to negotiate and form it.

Alternatively, it serves as a diagnostic once a strategic relationship feels as if there are problems, especially when the problems emerge suddenly. If that’s the case, chances are two out of three ain’t bad. It’s likely two out of three are necessary, and you’re down to one! And that’s bad. Mike Brown

 

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