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Celebrating 2013 #ArchiveFavs

December 31, 2013

Image courtesy of adamr at

Eek! 2013 has been a terrible year for me in terms of blogging. I’ve had good intentions, including a bunch of half-written posts sitting in my drafts, but somehow, other projects have gotten in the way.

Truth be told, I enjoy blogging, but sometimes find it a bit deflating that blog posts seem to have such a short shelf life, not only on this blog – but on those of many brilliant bloggers that I follow regularly. So, today I’m celebrating some of my favourite posts from some of the blogs that I love to read regularly.

Listed below (in no particular order) are some of my favourite blog posts from this year. Most are from the #Eventprofs community, but I’ve also been following some in the sustainability and content marketing fields.

I encourage you to spend a bit of time rummaging through your favourite bloggers’ archives looking for treasure to share.

The Meeting Professional’s Guide to Behavioral Economics

April 3, 2013

I’m honoured to have an article in this month’s MPI One+. A quick recap of the article can be found below.


World Water Day – Resources for #Eventprofs

March 22, 2013

In honour of World Water day, here are some of my favourite resources for event professionals:

International World Water Day Resources:

Water Footprint Information:

Charitable Organizations:

Industry Specific:

What are your favourite resources?

Image courtesy / hospitalera

Does your event need some @kred?

March 20, 2013

Influence and Outreach

In December, I had the honour of speaking about Gamification at the Next Generation Meetings Conference in Stockholm. While there, I was introduced to the Kred leaderboard for events and saw first hand how it encouraged interaction and social media engagement. The Kred leaderboard was projected on the wall of the event and it provided real time information about who has the most influence, as well as who is the most generous on social media.

What I like about the Kred Leaderboard for Meetings

  1. Encourages social media interaction: using gamification best practices, including real time feedback and rankings, Kred motivates participants to interact.
  2. Amplifies the reach of your event: by encouraging participants to be more active on social media, they are able to engage their networks both inside and outside of your event community.
  3. Encourages pro-social behaviour: since Kred measures not only influence but also outreach, it rewards participants for recognizing others and engaging in dialogue – all things that we want in building a stronger event community.

I’m grateful to Kred’s CEO, Andrew Grill, for answering a few questions about Kred and how to set one up for your event.

My Interview with Andrew Grill, CEO of Kred

Q1. What is the difference between influence & outreach? 

Kred Influence is the measure of what others do because of you on social media. Your Influence score increases when someone takes an action because of your content on Twitter related to the event hashtag. On a Kred event leaderboard, those with the highest influence score are the ones being mentioned most at the conference, and generally it is the current speaker on stage who scores the highest for influence. Kred Outreach is the measure of your generosity. Outreach increases when you retweet, @reply a person. On the Kred event leaderboard, those being generous and mentioning other delegates and speakers by @name will rank higher on the board.

Q2. What is the leaderboard and how is it used for events? 

The Kred events leaderboard provides a real-time view of who has influence, and who is being generous at the conference. The leaderboard is reset at midnight each day, and to appear on the board, you must mention the event hashtag and at least one other @name.  Points are then awarded to the mentioner and the person who mentions based on the Kred scoring rules.  The leaderboard refreshes every 30 seconds so delegates can see not only who is at the conference and talking about it, but who they should connect with because they are driving real interest and action at the event.  A live example of a Kred leaderboard can be found at

Q3. How do meeting planners create a leaderboard?  

At the moment the quickest way is to contact Kred and we can set up the leaderboard – it is a paid service.  In the future we will provide as self-service tool allowing event planners to create, modify and curate any leaderboard they like themselves.  The elements that can be changed are the title, logo, and color scheme.  In addition, specific @names can be withheld from appearing on the board in real time.

Q4. What are the benefits of the leaderboard for events? 

The feedback from these event leaderboards has been amazing.  People love seeing their names up “in lights” on the big screen, and at every one of the 100+ events we have run with the leaderboard, there has been a very healthy competition between delegates to get to the top of the leaderboard – gamifying the experience.  In some instance, iPads and hotel stays have been awarded to the people at the top of the list at the end of each day by the event organisers and their sponsors. The second benefit to an event planner is that it extends the reach of the event beyond a physical location.  Because delegates must use the event hashtag in a public tweet to appear on the leaderboard, this means that literally thousands of other people not at the event read tweets tagged with the #conference name and start to “tune in” to what is being said, and contribute virtually.  This means that the leaderboard drives many more organic mentions of the conference by delegates on twitter – at no incremental cost.The leaderboard has also become an amazing delegate discovery tool. Many people have said that they only knew a particular person was at the event because they saw their name on the leaderboard, and decided to seek them out and renew or create new relationships at the conference.


How much water can a conference bag hold?

March 14, 2013

We’re moving, which means we’ve been decluttering the house, or at least trying to! As part of the “big clean”, I came across a suitcase full of old conference bags, with all kinds of exhibitor catalogues, flyers, brochures, etc. Perhaps with a hint of procrastination, I decided to calculate the water footprint of one of these bags. Here’s what I came up with:

  • 1 cotton tote bag = 2500 litres
  • 182 pages of paper = 1820 litres
  • Total = 4320 litres (over 1000 gallons!)
  • Estimated event participants = 2500
  • Total water consumption from tote bags and materials = 10,800,000 litres

According to this National Geographic article, the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods, meaning that the bags and papers from this one conference were equivalent to the daily needs of 12,000 people.

World Water Day is coming up on March 22nd and I hope that these tips for reducing the water footprint of your event will come in handy.



My 1st #ScholarSunday goes to… @GlobalEcoGuy

March 10, 2013


Let me start by saying, I’m not an academic. I do however, have a great appreciation for academics, and particularly those that are using social media to help inform and engage the non-academic community. A few months ago, I came across the #ScholarSunday hashtag – started by Dr. Raul Pacheco as a #FollowFriday for academics. I think this is a brilliant way of helping to identify those academics that are transforming the role of academics in society. From a meetings industry perspective, finding engaging academics can add an valuable perspective to your program, regardless of whether or not you’re hosting an academic event.

What I look for in a #ScholarSunday:

  1. Do they challenge my assumptions?
  2. Do they tell great stories, and are they able to back them up with solid research?
  3. Can and do they respond well to criticism about their findings or posts?
  4. Do they actively engage with their friends and followers on social media, or do they only broadcast about themselves?
  5. Is their work accessible to the non-academic?
  6. Do they come across as human?

Why My 1st #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy

My first #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy (Dr. Jonathan Foley, the director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota) for the reasons listed above. His TED talk (see below) and thought provoking articles in Nature and Scientific American focus on a plan to feed the world while sustaining the planet. (FYI – their new publication ensia is my favorite online magazine – great science, stories and visuals.)

In preparation for this post, I had the pleasure of interviewing him about science & social media. A short excerpt from the interview is below:

[View the full transcript of “My Interview with @GlobalEcoGuy” on Storify]

I also put him on the spot for who he likes to follow on social media. His comments on possible generational differences to approaches to social media can be found in the transcript above, and he also provided a few names:

Advice for Eventprofs about Academics as Speakers

I have planned many academic conferences over the years, and I can say that some academics are exceptional presenters and others well, are not. I think that #ScholarSunday has the potential to be a great resource for event professionals because it helps us to identify academics that know how to engage and are respected by their peers. In addition, I strongly recommend finding videos of their presentations, as this helps to get a sense of their presentation style as well. A few tips to share with them before their sessions include:

  • Review expectations about the presentation style that you and your participants need, including interactive and visual elements.
  • Ask them to engage with your event participants using the event hashtag before, during and after the event.
  • If possible, schedule a twitter chat with several speakers and your community members and send the transcript out to promote your event.
  • Provide them with background information about your audience and the audience’s knowledge of the subject matter so that the content can be appropriately tailored.
  • Consider an interview format rather than a standard lecture presentation, this can help make the session more engaging for the audience.


It’s Time for Associations to Transform

March 6, 2013

I’ve been struggling lately with finding relevance for associations. I’m struggling because I love associations, but I question how they will continue with current models. Here’s my problem: I think many associations have forgotten why they exist, and instead, focus on just collecting dues and holding events. I’ve spoken with several association leaders lately that are having a hard time meeting financial goals, delivering value to stakeholders, and achieving their goals. I’ve also spoken with many association members who really question why they pay to be members of an organization and whether or not the fees are worth it. We need a major transformation both in terms of what associations do, and how they are funded.

I think many associations act like cocoons: they’re insular, and keep their value hidden. On the other hand, I’m also starting to see signs of associations evolving to be more like butterflies – and I hope to see more of this. So how do cocoon associations and butterfly associations compare?


Cocoon Associations

Cocoon associations are inward facing: concerned with themselves and their growth. They focus on recruiting members and holding events. They hide their value – and showing it only to those on the inside, and are restrictive about things like sharing content. They are tightly guarded, and put up a barrier that separates them from the world. They are also stuck in one place, not able to leave their spot. This combined with their vulnerability to everything from the economy to their competitors. Cocoon associations don’t sound very promising – but they have a huge potential to emerge transformed.

Butterfly Associations

Butterfly associations on the other hand have an outward focus and they show their value to everyone around them. With their wings outstretched and open they move freely as needed. When faced with a possible threat – they can fly to a safer place. They’re not completely protected from the butterfly nets of the association world, but they have the ability to be nimble. They are also transformed with a new focus on the mission of the association, not simply the management of the association. Butterflies are fascinating, they soar to great heights and they’re loved.

The Transformation Process

Becoming a butterfly association is no easy task and involves consultation and collaboration as well as answering some pretty tough questions. A few questions and tips to get you started:

  1. Start by asking yourself: How is your association relevant? Do you deliver value?
  2. Next, ask yourself if your current practices are the most effective way of achieving your mission. Are you preventing your leadership from focusing on key priorities because they are being consumed by projects that while valuable, or are not the best use of their time and talent? Are there other initiatives that would be more important?
  3. Develop a long-term plan, one with room for flexibility, but that ultimately commits to a transformation.
  4. Develop an alternative funding model that will help ensure your long-term sustainability that is not heavily dependent on member dues.
  5. Gain support for your vision with your board and stakeholders. Keep in mind that when you’re stuck inside the cocoon, it can be difficult to see the beauty that will emerge.



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