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Business to Business Online Expos


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Sorry, Your Seminar Put Me To Sleep

presentationIs it a requirement for all seminars to be boring? Seriously, I don’t want to be cruel and trample on anyone’s efforts but I don’t think I’ve ever attended a seminar that kept me alert and involved–let alone entertained. In a not-so-scientific estimation, I’m going to predict that the majority of seminar attendees are with me on this.

Why do we have seminars?  According to the folks over at Brunel University in London, England, seminars create opportunities to:

  • explore topics in more depth
  • share ideas in a way that will advance your thinking
  • learn from other people’s experiences and background knowledge
  • gain points of view that you might not have otherwise considered

However, as beneficial as all of those points sound, author, R.B. Holbrook, says, “people only retain only 5% of what they are taught at a lecture.”

Five percent.  Your name, the name of your product and the name of your company is probably close to 1% of that.  So the true stat would come out to about 4%.  Four percent retained in your lecture.

“But I don’t do a lecture, I conduct a seminar,” you may have thought after reading that.

Okay, then if it’s a seminar…why does it feel like a lecture?

Let me answer it for you…

BECAUSE EVERYONE IS BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS!

Just because you, as the host, attended seminars in the past where some old guy spent two hours crawling through a slide show, don’t think that this a model you should follow.  Trust me, if you hated it when you experienced it, the rest of us ain’t gonna like it either–no matter how great your company is. And the free bagels and coffee isn’t gonna make up for the colossal waste of time we all will experience.

I’m sincerely not trying to be rude but it is a waste of time.  If you’re going to spend all the money to prep for an event like this by booking a hall, catering the food, paying a staff and renting equipment, wouldn’t you want the audience to leave with an incredible understanding of the content?

Of course you do. So, how do you achieve that?

Switch it up. Get away from normal or mundane and put on an exciting, interactive education “show”. Yes, I said a show. Something that requires prep and rehearsal. Put on a presentation that may require multiple people to pull off. If you can’t handle it, hire a team that can. At the end of the day, your goal for your audience is to retain the information. Take it one step further, if the audience works for your company, you absolutely need for them to retain as much as possible so that they can move your product more efficiently with higher production.

Christina Hamlett of eHow.com said, “If you’re not even halfway into the seminar and your listeners are already yawning, looking at their watches or working crossword puzzles, it’s a good indicator that you’re not keeping them totally engaged.”

Christina then continues in her piece and gives great tips and suggestions on how to get your audience engaged.  It’s a great article and you can read it HERE.

Just take yourself back to grade school.  Do you remember that history teacher with the monotone voice who said, “In 1734, the southern colonies were integrated into a large division of……zzzzzzzzzzzzz”?  You don’t remember the rest right?  Why?

BECAUSE YOU FELL ASLEEP!

You hated that class and you struggled to pass it because you found it very difficult to learn from that teacher.

Then why do that to your clients, peers, expo attendees or colleagues?

Change things up and make it fun.  It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, people stay awake and retain information when they are having fun.  And then they become advocates for whatever it is you’re teaching.

Enjoy yourself and they will enjoy themselves.

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Storm Trooper Arrests MCM Fan

At the 2012 MCM ComicCon Convention in London, a fan who tried to be funny, got a taste of a capture much like Luke Skywalker experienced.  Watch the whole video.  It’s pretty funny.  Poor kid probably thought it would never end.


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Do I need to rent a car while I’m in town for the Expo?

taxi

Make sure your NYC taxi cab has a meter and a posted hack license.

As your planning your trip to your next convention, one of the things on your check list is transportation.  Unless you’ve had previous experience in the city you’re going to, you’re probably wondering if you should spend the extra money on renting a vehicle.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors involved here and every situation is different.  For instance, if you know that you’ll be taking clients off premises for dinners and meetings, you’re going to probably want to have a high-line rental in the hotel parking lot so you don’t kill your budget with car services.  Additionally, if the only hotel you were able to book is quite a distance from the convention center in a town that doesn’t offer good public transportation, you may also want to consider locking some wheels down.  Heck, there are towns that are either so humid and sticky or cold and windy, I’ve rented a car even for short distances so I didn’t have to deal with Mother Nature at times.  I’ve also taken cabs one block at times so that I looked and felt fresh when arriving at the show.

Only you know all the specifics of your trip so you’re on your own there.

What I’d like to do is tell you about specifics in a few cities I have a lot of experience in.  Let’s start in my old neighborhood…

NEW YORK CITY

Apart from a couple cities overseas, The Big Apple has the best public transportation system in the world. 13 miles long and 2 and 1/2 miles wide, this small island in New York is home to 1.6 million people. During the work week, over 600,000 more people come to work from 3 or 4 different states. 2.2 million people in 22.7 square miles. Do you really want to drive in that?

The good news is, you don’t need to.  Even if you stayed in an uptown hotel, there are plenty of transportation options to get you downtown to the show.  While you still have to be very careful of your personal belongings, the crime rate has dropped considerably and riding the subways in the day time is very safe.  Unfortunately, there’s still a strong smell of urine on the New York City streets, but sadly enough, you get used to it rather quickly and it doesn’t bother you anymore.

You’ll probably fly in to Jersey or Queens.  If your hotel doesn’t offer a shuttle, then take a yellow cab.  DO NOT take a car service on the fly.  In other words, unless you ordered it before you arrived, don’t fall prey to non-licensed car service guys who promise you a great deal into the city.  Make sure your cabby has a license and a meter.

The trip into New York City from Newark, La Guardia or JFK should all be under 30-45 minutes if there’s no traffic.  Unfortunately, there’s usually traffic.  Just keep an eye on your route.  Some cabbies take the long way to pad the meter.

One you arrive at your hotel, you can survive on cabs and public transportation for the rest of your stay.  It’s so much more convenient.

LAS VEGAS

When you land in Sin City, the airport is only a few miles from the “strip”.  It’s very easy to take a cab to your hotel and you really never need a car again–until you cab your way back to the airport.  But…it’s Las Vegas.  Who wants to be stuck in one place in this exciting city of lights?

There are a few positives and negatives when considering having your own wheels.

For instance, if you have a car, you have the freedom to take off whenever you need to and go anywhere you want in a very exciting town that allows you to park almost anywhere for free. Seriously, this is probably the only city left in America that offers free parking at almost every major venue. Obviously, they are keeping your pockets full because they assume they will get that money anyway, once you get inside the casino. But free parking is a huge plus that could really save you hundreds by the end of your trip.  No cab fair, no parking fees , no public transportation…it’s a beautiful thing.

On the other side of the coin, Las Vegas is a party city.  Even if you’re not much of a party person, this town inspires even the strong to say, “Ahhh what the heck” and participate in some smooshjing.  It’s very easy to make a mistake that you can’t take back.  An out of town D.U.I. is no fun (minimum of $10,000 in fines), but worse yet, one careless choice and momentary lapse in judgment could take a life–yours or an innocent tourist.

I’ve talked to so many expo-goers over the years who lived responsible, respectable lives in their home town, but came to Las Vegas and made the police blotter.

Take my advice, unless you’re strong enough to be the trip-long designated driver, don’t even rent a car.

NEW ORLEANS

Another city focused around party time.  I mean, come on, they serve daiquiris at drive-thrus. Go and have your fun, but get a hotel away from all the wildness. This choice will force you to rent a car to get around, but you’ll thank me later for it. If you do want to stay in the French Quarter, aside from one or two of the larger hotel chains, there isn’t much to choose from.  I don’t recommend staying anywhere near Bourbon Street. There’s a Double-tree in Metairie (10 miles away) that is clean, modern and a great place to escape the craziness.

On a side note, everyone that goes to New Orleans wants to eat at “Emeril’s” restaurant.  Most nights he’s there in person, cooking and shouting out ‘bam’! But if your budget doesn’t allow multiple five star dinners on your trip, skip the touristy-trendy spot and make sure you dine at “Mr. B’s”. This is right in the heart of Bourbon Street but the food is so delicious and the service is top rate.  Great place to take clients you’re trying to impress.

MIAMI

This city is way too spread out to survive without a rent-a-car.  In addition, the taxi drivers here are the worst when it comes to honesty in routing.  If you get in a cab here, make sure that you map the route in your phone GPS and let the driver know that you’re doing so.  These guys are sharks.

However, if you do rent a car, be very careful in downtown Miami.  One wrong turn can take you right into a neighborhood that may resemble something from Scarface or New Jack City.  I’m a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan but I’m at peace with loving them from Los Angeles.  Seriously, there are so many beautiful areas in the Miami area, but some neighborhoods you need police escort to make it out alive.  Be careful!

If you do rent a car, I highly recommend that you stay at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood.  It’s right on the beach, reasonably priced, clean and gorgeous. I’ve stayed at the Westin a dozen times and always had a great experience.

Many other places along the beach look great in the pics online….and only online. If you want to visit South Beach, feel free but let me save you a few dollars.  Don’t pay hundreds of dollars just for the luxury of sitting in a vip area of a club.  Once you sit, you will then pay $400 for one bottle of alcohol valued at $24.95 at the local liquor store.  You will also pay hundreds of dollars for cranberry juice and other mixers. Do all your business stroking at the hotel.

If you want to do something different and not rely on alcohol driven events, Miami is a great town for water rentals. boats, jet skies, fishing, snorkeling and swamp rides are just a few of the events offered that you may consider inviting peers to.  Give your clients or employees a day of local nature and plan something they will remember for the rest of their life.

Here’s a few other towns and considerations:

CHICAGO – Rent-a-Car

WASHINGTON D.C. – Public Transportation (Clean and safe)

ATLANTA – Rent-a-Car

PHILADELPHIA – Rent-a-Car (Don’t get lost, rough town, streets hard to navigate)

SAN FRANCISCO – Public Transportation (Bart System) is awesome

ATLANTIC CITY – Rent-a-Car

DALLAS – Public Transportation

SAN DIEGO – Rent-a-Car

LOS ANGELES – Rent-a-Car

ORLANDO – Rent-a-Car

LONDON – Public Transportation


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Public Driven Trade Shows Attract All Kinds of Cray Crays

Prowl from Transformers Robots in Disguise

Wayne was the voice of “Prowl” on the hit Fox television show, Transformers: Robots in Disguise.

Of all the impressive notches on my resume, one of the credits I’m most proud of is when I worked as the voice of “Prowl” from the Fox TV series, Transformers: Robots in Disguise.

I’ll never forget when my agent called me and told me I had an audition for Transformers.  The popular cartoon was a household name worldwide.  When my agent called again to tell me that they cast me for the show, and as one of the lead roles, I was like a little kid in a candy store.  It was really awesome!

After my episodes were released, me and scattered other characters from the television show were hired to make appearances at conventions and expos all around the world.

Wow! I can’t even begin to break down some of the wild characters that attend these shows. “Trekkies” (Star Trek Convention Attendees) have always had a reputation of being out there but when I walked into BotCon in London, England (2002), my jaw dropped.

Wayne aka “Prowl” (2001)

I witnessed grown men walking the aisles wearing full robot costumes.  One father, dressed as me (Prowl) came up to my autograph table with his son to say hello.  His son was wearing normal kid clothes but dad was in full on “TRANSFORM!” mode.

Make no mistake, there were a lot of really nice fans in attendance, so don’t view this post as a bash-fest.  I just feel the need to point out some of the really interesting peeps.

Typical for this kind of gathering,  everyone wanted the voice over actors to speak in their character’s voices. For some folks, I would leave messages on their answering machines or be Prowl on their voice mail. It was a good time.

Like most fan conventions, the organization put together a panel of actors to answer specific questions from the live audience.  My favorite question from the attendees at this show came from a 40-something year old man in the middle of the crowd, who raised his hand high and waited patiently to ask his favorite Autobot, Prowl, a very poignant question.

“Yes, Prowl, in Episode 8, when you fell into the ocean, were you nervous because you’re metal? What were you thinking when it happened?” he sincerely asked.

I paused.  I was a little confused.  I was a little concerned.  I was a little amused.

Transformers

Case of Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2001)

“Ummmn…I’m not sure what my imaginary robot character was thinking at the time.  I’m not even sure that he is capable of thinking,” I responded. “As for me, the voice actor, I was thinking that I should probably get this part down and put out a solid performance so that they invite me back next season.”

“Oh,” he concluded.