Event Tip: Using your meeting to model and build community (video)

March 6, 2015

By Laura Stack, CSP


Laura speaking at Wells Fargo, surrounded by toys.

For more information about Laura Stack, CSP, visit her page here.


Preparing Industry Speakers: Part 2

November 13, 2014

Good Day Beautiful People,

Brian Palmer here. Last time I was with you, I talked about the importance of making sure your industry speakers know why they were invited, what you want them to do, what you want them to talk about and how you want their session to go.

Today I want to recommend that you provide your industry speakers with an opportunity to improve their presentation—some sort of a coach or an online tool. Skillshare has all sorts of public speaking classes that people can take. Make sure that people are going to be up to the task.

Industry speakers are often things that nobody else can give your attendees. So it’s wise to put some time and effort into telling them what you want them to do, but also give them some educational opportunities to make sure that they deliver a high quality product at your event.

Preparing Industry Speakers: Part 1

November 6, 2014

Good Day Beautiful People,

Brian Palmer here to tell you a story about a speech—a speech that I gave. An industry association invited me to speak at their event. I accepted and signed on the dotted line. Along the way, I kept asking the organizer what they wanted me to talk about, and I never received an answer. Calls and emails—I never received a response. So I, through my other means, went around and figured out what the purpose of the gathering was and what they wanted me to talk about.

The day of the event, about 5 minutes before I was to speak, the guy that invited me rushed into the room and said, “Hey, I never told you what I wanted you to talk about! What are you going to talk about?” I said, “Why don’t you wait around and see?” He did stay, and he was happy. The audience was happy, and all went well. But it went well because I investigated on my own.


About the half the times that I’ve been invited to speak at an event, I don’t hear from the organizer what they’re looking for me to do or what they want me to accomplish with my session. I find out on my own. When you hire industry speakers or invite them to speak at your event—industry experts—don’t leave it to chance that they know what you’re going to say. Don’t leave it to chance that their message is going to be appropriate for your audience or event objectives.

Always tell people why they were invited and what is the purpose of the event. Give them some information about the audience and demographics. Give them a very clear target to make sure that their presentation accomplishes your event objectives.

Variety is the spice of meetings.

October 27, 2014

Good Day Beautiful People,

Brian Palmer here to talk about variety being the spice of a meeting. When you have a speaker that goes over well, there’s often a desire to bring in a similar speaker for this year’s event. I think it’s wise to go afield from the speaker that you had before. If you bring in the same sort of speaker, chances are it’s going to be compared to last year’s big success. It’s often difficult for somebody this year to compare favorably to last year’s success. I believe you should go pretty far afield from the success that you had last year. Bring somebody different in. Appeal to a different sensibility, and I think the odds of your event being well-received go up.

Newsletter: How to Say NO

October 15, 2014

Saying no is a critical business skill. But an effort to avoid uncomfortable moments or disappointing others can lead us to say yes to too many things. This calls for a plan, so today we bring you Shari Harley to share ways to say no and still sound like a responsible, easy-to-work-with, accommodating professional. 


Four Steps When You Get a Request


  1. Thank the person for asking. “Thank you for asking me.”  Saying “thank you” acknowledges the other person and buys you time to think about the request.
  2. Say you need some time to think about the request. Ask, “Can I have some time to think about it? I’ll get back to you by Friday.” You don’t need to reply in the moment. We often regret things we agree to without thinking through the request.
  3. Consider what you really want and are willing to do. It’s much worse to over-commit and under-deliver than to simply say no or renegotiate requests.
  4. Get back to the person in a timely way (when you said you would) and tell him or her what you’re willing to do.




Three Techniques to Say NO


How to Say No Option One: Simply say no.

Example: “I really appreciate you asking me to write the proposal for the RFP. I’m not able to do that. May I recommend someone else who has the expertise and will do a great job?” Don’t give a bunch of reasons for saying no. People are not interested in why we can or can’t do something. They just want to know if we will do it.


How to Say No Option Two: Agree — and negotiate the time frame.

Example: “I’d be happy to do that. I can’t do it before the last week of the month. Would that work for you?” If the answer is no, negotiate further. Ask, “When do you really need it? I can certainly do pieces by then, but not the whole thing. Given that I can’t meet your timeline, who else can work on this in tandem or instead of me?”


How to Say No Option Three: Say no to the request — and say what you can do.

Example: “I can’t do ___. But I can do ___. How would that work?”


A review of how to say no:

  1. Acknowledge the request by getting back to the requestor within 24 hours. 
  2. Give yourself time to think about and respond to requests.
  3. Negotiate requests to your and the requestor’s satisfaction.
  4. Agree on what you can and are willing to do.
  5. Keep your commitments.


Saying no is always hard. But it’s always better to say no than to ignore requests, or to say yes and do nothing.


Shari Harley is a corporate communications expert and author of How to Say Anything to Anyone.

Newsletter: What Are the Unwritten Rules of Your Hierarchy?

September 24, 2014

Seth Mattison explains…

The Unwritten Rules of the Hierarchy

Every day we read another article or media post about this new-networked world we live in. Digitally charged and hyper connected, it grants access to information and influence, innovation and collaboration. They say the future of work is here and now.

However, what’s often overlooked is that the structures and the culture of the hierarchy still exist. And these two worlds are at battle with each other, though most of us are completely unaware of it.

A diagram of each is below.

Workplace Cultures

My friends, we are living in a half-changed world. 

The modern workplace, as progressive as it thinks it is, still holds tight to unwritten rules of the hierarchy; rules around communication and etiquette, policies and procedures.

For example, one of the most well-known and universally understood unwritten rules is: Don’t go above your boss’s head!

However, as the workforce of the future continues to flood the ranks of organizations, it’s becoming clear they do not see the world through the same lens. In fact, they’re unaware of most of the unwritten rules that are so innately understood by more experienced generations.  They are, in truth, living in the network.

These two worlds are playing out in every single organization today.

Unfortunately, neither side really understands the other and the rules they’re playing by, which creates massive tension. I think it’s time to have some honest conversations about what this transformation means for our cultures.

It’s time to shine a light on our unwritten rules and decide which we want to keep and which we’re ready to let go of as we step forward into this new world of work. Because it’s not about out with the old and in with the new. To win in this new half-changed world requires us to meet people where they are, without losing who we are.

Seth Mattison is an internationally renowned expert on workforce trends and generational dynamics

The Unknown Speaker

September 11, 2014

Good Day Beautiful People,

Brian Palmer here. We get to see a great many speaker evaluations and commonly, people say things on there like, “I had never heard of this speaker before, but boy, was she good! That was the highlight of the conference.”

We’ve often suggested that people, when they’ve never heard of the speaker, are delighted when that speaker does a particularly good job. We think it’s wise to hire really good speakers who might not be well known. They tend to cost a great deal less and create a particularly happy audience.

Satisfaction is somewhat a function of expectations, and when expectations aren’t particularly high, audiences find themselves particularly satisfied. I heard about this study that was done: “On the road to happiness, a pleasant surprise beats a sure thing.” That was the Washington Post article about the study which essentially said that audiences are particularly delighted when they get an unexpected surprise. I’ve got a link to the article below. You might want to read it and make sure that when you hire no-name speakers, they’re really good and you will particularly delight your group.


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