Home' micenet eMag : micenet October 2018 Contents EVENTS MAKE SENSE | BRYAN HOLLIDAY
IS OUR LEGACY
One of the many challenges to overcome when organising international
events is trying to predict how many delegates will attend, says Bryan Holliday.
he fact that there were 6000
participants in Vienna last year is
no guarantee that a similar number
will grace our shores in 2021.
This “guessing game” has an impact on
every aspect of our work.
Although past attendance is a guide it’s
more important to know where the delegates
came from. As increasingly, our attendees
travel from the Asia-Pacific region, Australia
can now take full advantage of its geography
and not worry too much if numbers are down
from Europe and North America.
However, we still have to forecast room
space, accommodation blocks and
Another challenge is making sure that our
business or scientific programs attract early
researchers and students. If only senior
members from an organisation make the
journey, then it doesn’t augur well for the
continued growth and health of the subject
matter of the conference.
Increasingly, clients are asking us to develop very targeted strategies to attract young people
to our events. These could include offering attractive early-bird registration fees, providing
inexpensive multi-room apartments, or designing part of the program especially for them.
Top people in their profession are always happy to contribute to the education of younger
members. It might be a special lunch where the keynote speakers host a particular table and
invite questions. It could be an early evening competition where students pitch their ideas for
further funding to a panel of experts and sponsored cash prizes are offered.
Although much attention is correctly given to the economic value of business events, the
intellectual legacy must never be forgotten.
It’s encouraging to read that in Australia $30 billion is generated annually from the meetings
industry. This is quite independent of the thousands of jobs supported through our sector.
However, conferences contribute to the national good in many other ways. Surpluses from
events help support the host bodies in their continuous efforts to provide professional
development to their members.
Much needed new infrastructure is being built all over the country. Knowledge transfer and retention
for Australian delegates helps the economy in so many ways. Everyone in our industry works
tirelessly for clients and causes that hold a deeper meaning between attendees across generations.
We have to continue to create initiatives that are designed from the outset for longer-term
purpose. The future is our legacy. m
Bryan Holliday can be contacted on email@example.com.
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in business, and serious
executives bring the full belief
that they could easily do
everyone’s else’s job, as well if not better.
This is of course egotistical fantasy.
Executive presenters look at seasoned
stage performers and think they’re just as
good up there, because they’ve watched lots
of Gary Vaynerchuk videos. They feel they
don’t need a rehearsal, being very busy and
important, and because they’ve done lots of
Big mistake. Rehearsals should be as
compulsory as hand-washing on cruise
ships. I can’t think of a single other change
that would help our industry deliver better
results than that.
If you get up on stage and wing it, thinking
the pressure will somehow mold your lumps
of info-coal into diamonds, you’re just a
burden on your audience.
One rehearsal will make any presentation
80 per cent better (anecdotal data, there are
no scientific studies). Another one will make
you another 40 per cent better. There are
diminishing returns, but the first few runs
through it are the difference between champ
You learn this if you’re talking on a
roadshow. The first gig is a dumpster fire of
miscues and lines that go nowhere. By the
time you get to the last city, you’re Hugh
Rehearsals should be as compulsory as hand-
washing on cruise ships, writes Ian Whitworth.
Jackman. Time slows down on stage as you roll out solid gold road-tested material, eyeballing
receptive audience members with calm confidence, popping your slides up with orchestra
For some reason, roadshows always seem to start in big cities and move on to the smaller
ones. Think about reversing that if you’re planning one.
There are two types of rehearsal that your presenters should know about. The first is to tidy
up their personal presentation style. Do this in a private room, with a video camera. Many
presenters have no idea that they repeat certain catchphrases over and over, like ‘basically’ or
This also gives a realistic idea how long the talk will be. Most presenters are terrified at the
thought of filling 45 minutes, so they prepare 90 minutes of material to be sure, then turn into
the mortal enemy of the event planner: the Lunch Delayer. The time to learn this is beforehand.
The other issue is rehearsals on site. The average working presenter is comfortable talking in
a company meeting room, but event venues are an alien environment. There are bright lights,
stage stairs, and other showbiz obstacles to deal with. Presenters can get all rabbit-in-the-
headlights if you just throw them straight in.
It’s also necessary because the technical crew needs to work through all the details. In the
theatre, even a basic stage play rehearses for months to get the details just right. What chance
do you stand if your actual event is also the first full run-through?
Ideally, the presenters should step through their whole presentation with the crew. How will
they be introduced? Which side of the stage will they enter from? How bright do they like the
house lights? Are they playing their videos, or will the crew do it? What’s the cue word for that
video? Does it play to the end? There are dozens of important facts that the crew needs to
know, rather than trying to wing it during the actual speech.
Planners can help this by booking the room for long enough to do a rehearsal. If it’s a heavy
presentation, don’t do a one-hour turnaround. It’s technical triage. Everyone’s running around
with their hair on fire, it all comes together in the last three minutes like an episode of The Block,
then the hapless presenters are thrown on stage to meet their fate. That won’t be a presentation
that your audience goes home talking about in a good way.
Half an hour spent doing run-throughs will keep everyone’s blood pressure down and make
the whole event a better experience. m
Ian Whitworth is co-founder of audio-visual group Scene Change. He writes on wider business topics at
www.ianwhitworth.net. Image courtesy of Oneill Photographics.
DON’T WING IT
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PRESENTATIONS | IAN WHITWORTH
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