Show 307 InfoComm Roundup, Tamsen Webster SVP from Oratium TedXCambridge Executive Producer
Jon Trask gives meeting organisers the run down on InfoComm that happened last week in Las Vegas. Lots of cool machines to make your next event really shine.
Tamsen Webster from Oratium talks to Mike McAllen about how she helps companies and individuals communicate better. She gives some great nuggets of information and everyone who has listened to an executive who is not a good speaker should listen closely. Tamsen has some great workshops coming up for everyone. Plus she does one-on-one work on speaking training. She also is the Executive Producer of TedX Cambridge.
You can find Mike at Grass Shack Road.com
Mike: Hello and welcome to this episode of the Meetings Podcast my name Mike McAllen and this is the Podcast for Meetings and Event Organizers who want to produce engaging programs for their attendees plus empower organizers with tips and resources to take their careers to the next level, you can find links and transcripts on the Meetings Podcast Website.
So, today we have a great show, really great show, greater than the other shows that we have done, not the greatest show that we have ever done but it is really great show. Today we have Jon Trask of AV for Planners, he is going to be talking about our recent trip to IINFOCOMM and see what is new on the Audio Visual industry, he really kind of talked about some cool things you are going to use on your future shows. New projectors, new video walls, lots of great improvements in the AV world, Jon will tell you all about that and then next we have Tamsen Webster who I thoroughly enjoyed talking to. She talks about communications, speaking, she is a Senior Vice President, Executive Communications at ORATIUM, she is the executive producer of Ted X Cambridge which is kind of cool we talked a little bit about that and so let’s get right into it, let’s listen to Jon and he will tell us a little bit about IINFOCOMM and then we will get right into Tamsen, so thank you for tuning in.
Jon: This is Jon Trask of AV for Planners and as mentioned on our previous podcast Mike and I went to IINFOCOMM 2014 last week in Las Vegas and wanted to come back and just maybe talk about a few of the highlights briefly, we may have some other things to talk about from this later and in particular we spoke with or I spoke with some folks from IATSI the union there who were doing some rigging and safety demonstrations that I would like to bring some of that information back here to the podcast. So we should be talking about that in the future and also some things on power and some things labor, working with unions, that sort of thing. So that is something that we definitely going to be looking forward to but mainly wanted to just talk about a couple of different areas where there were some highlights, this was sort of a show I have heard other people say that this was a show of evolution not revolution and I would very much agree with that a lot of the things that I saw are improvements but not necessarily something that is making a brand new slash. One of those things was for collaboration there is an item called the bar code click share and this isn’t going to be relevant in every meeting it would actually work really well in some situations but I could see times work could work really well for people let’s say a panel, each person wanting to have their own presentation. So maybe you’ve got a panel and a break out room each person has their information that they want to be able to share and these click shares allow you to wirelessly basically connect to the projector. So there is a lot less time dealing with resolutions, there is a lot less time hooking things up and sorting through all of that and you can actually have multiple computers through one of the versions hooked to your projector through this click share. So I thought that was kind of unique collaboration tool because one of the ideas that I saw a lot of was just about collaboration and how things are merging so people can work together more easily, share ideas more easily, wipe board, electronics things like that. On the topic of video closely aligned with this collaboration idea that I am talking about there was a lot of 4K video and I thought it might be good rather than talking about any of the specifics of that because that can all be something you can all delve into if you have any interest. I just thought I might kind of give the sense of what 4K video is, 4K video is ultra high definition, it is basically higher resolution than high depth we have evolved over the past few years and continue to do this, one of the reasons they went to 4K was on large projection like movie theatres, places like that so it will eventually replace 1080P as the highest resolution that is available. Standard depth used to be what we called 480, high definition is now 720P, 4 high definition is 1080 and now you’ve got ultra HD which is 2160P and what that 2160 is, is that is the pixels, the width of the picture. So we have been basically doubling when we went to 1080 and now doubling again the number of pixels within a picture. So if you have an interest in this it is really something that is coming, it is out in the future, it isn’t going to necessarily impact the meeting planner immediately but be aware that it is out there and something that you will want to pay attention to eventually the same way that high depth has moved in and become something that is now very familiar to people that wasn’t five definitely ten years ago. So, on the video front there was a lot of 4K projectors, other kind of highlights on the projection they now have Lampson laser projectors that are filtering in and in its early stage in a lot of these they aren’t all perfected yet but there are some really nice possibilities coming out of a projector that you don’t have to replace the Lampson in installed situation certainly again which don’t affect mostly what we talk about here but also just not having the risk of a lamp burning out on your show something like that there are also some great LED walls, the resolution on those has just become amazingly good, when LED walls were starting out years ago I used to tell people the sort of like newsprint if you are looking at a newspaper photo up close you can begin to see the pixels it sort of breaks up because the way they would make those pictures is with a bunch of individual dots well with LED walls you have the same kind of technology or idea behind it that is made up of individual pixels just like your television screen is but the LED lens used to be very far apart over a large and consequently if you are going to get close to the screen it wouldn’t look good or break up or be kind of soft. So at the end of the day that is improving credibly there are also some transparent solutions, there are also some odd shapes and things, there is one manufacturer showing triangularly shaped LED panels which could be made into like a video pyramid basically. So all these are things to keep in mind because there is a lot more flexibility if you move beyond the idea of just having a screen in the room, moving into projection mapping and moving into sort of displays that can be shaped to something that you want on your stage maybe it is on scenery, maybe it is just you want a series of boxes or things like that but the possibilities for imagination and creativity on the higher end shows is very much more available than it was shortly so this is part of evolution I mentioned again where things are just getting better and better. Another evolution was Stamford a screen manufacturer had a very interesting cool way to curve screens, again not applicable to every type of meeting but there are situations where curved screen videos make a great impact and so having those things more available and less custom, just more available and filtering out into the rental market is very handy and they actually want to know award for that part of the rental staging award for nick products. A product that I really liked which is sort of spanning the line between lighting and video was made by Rob who is a lighting manufacturer and they have the robin mini me, not necessarily something everyone would use it is actually kind of classified as almost a DJ club type item but there were units that we used to try and work in like a DL2 & DL3 they were called which was basically a video projector on a moving head. They tended to be expensive and not something that was very practical for a lot of meetings. This one is much smaller and much less expensive, it isn’t high resolution, it isn’t extremely bright, it is about 2500 lunar and it was 1280 by 800 computer resolution but you can put a USB stick right unto it and play a movie and when I say a movie it isn’t necessarily a Hollywood movie you could make a really cool loop of say your company logo or something like that and shine this on the scenery and really be able to do some cool things with that moving head because you could move it around, you could focus it on a different piece of scenery, you have a lot of flexibility and for the cost of them compared to say the cost of making a glass go board to put into a moving white and on this you are getting full movement and video capability and playback, it seems like a really cool idea and just something that in the right situation could be dropped in really well. Over on the audio world, again incremental increases really cool products a lot of more things in the digital realm and mixers and items like that. One thing that I have never really mentioned on this but I know a number of audio engineers who just swear by this is that there was a new model of van duke an auto mixer and some of these may have shown up on meeting planners show and they didn’t even realize it, it isn’t the primary mixer, it is an auxiliary piece that hooks into the main mixer but it is really the best technology that I have been shown for doing like a panel, you can have an 8 or 16 channel Dan Dugan mixer and those mixers they aren’t using a compressor or a gauge or a limiter or any of the other ways that people do to try and maybe suppress sound when you’ve got multiple Mics open on stage you can get a lot of noise and a lot of things and feedback happening, these mixers are great at sensing when the microphone gets a signal, when somebody starts speaking and instantaneously opening it so if you’ve got a lot of banter with a panel, people going back and forth, rather than having to leave all those microphones up and noisy and the potential for those things to go on in the background, you can have this almost instantaneous opening and closing of the microphone. So it is a really cool product, I know a lot of audio guys who swear by it, so my favorite audio guys like to use them. So I figured when I was looking at the audio world just mentioning that they are out there, that is another one of these kind of cool evolutionary toys, you might say that help us do our job, help us improve the quality of the meeting but they aren’t really fancy, something you put a spotlight on it is just infrastructure underneath that let us do our job better and let us bring the really experience out the presenters are trying to create and that the meeting planners are trying to make an opportunity for. Because at the end of the day that is what all of this is about, it is about the audience experience and it is about finding the right tools to do the job, IINFOCOMM is just kind of like a store for us to go look for those tools and I saw some really cool things, I walked for a bunch f days solid, I think I walked literally something like 10 miles while I was on the show floor it is just staggering, I saw a lot of old friends, 40,000 people there, it is quite an event, if you ever have an opportunity to go in if that is an interest to you I would encourage it, it is really a great show to go see. In the meantime that is some impressions of IINFOCOMM 2014 from my side and thank you for listening this has been Jon Trask of AV for Planners and I am at the meetings podcast and we look forward to talking to you again next time.
Mike: Welcome back to the Meetings Podcast this is Mike McAllen and today we have Tamsen Webster, hi Tamsen!
Tamsen: Hi, how are you Mike?
Mike: Thank you very much for talking with me today.
Tamsen: Happy to.
Mike: I know your husband he took me to a Moby concert a long time ago, years ago.
Tamsen: Oh, that is Las Vegas.
Mike: Yes, it was really fun everybody was on crazy drugs and then we were there.
Tamsen: Yes, so substance users I should say.
Mike: Yes, well we were just using alcohol basically but that was fun and he is a great guy and I did meet you briefly at blog world.
Tamsen: That happens, I show up there.
Mike: Yes and that is the one time probably you guys don’t remember, to do your talks and I was just standing there with my bag pack.
Tamsen: Oh, that guy!
Mike: Yeah I was one of the nerdy guys that were there except I am like large, I am the large nerdy guy so anyway so tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do and why we should love and respect you.
Tamsen: Well I would say that I think the quickest way to put what I do is that I am a passion hunter and then I deal with power it is how I like to describe it. I work with people and with organizations to help find whatever it is that really gives them a differentiating source of power and then figure how to articulate that so that other people can feel off of that same power. So in other words I tell how people figure what to say and how to say when there are stakes on the line.
Mike: Wauh, that is awesome and so you work at Oratium, so what do you do there?
Tamsen: So there I am the Senior Vice President for Executive Communications and we are a Messaging Consultancy so we help again individuals and organizations across the board figure out how to fill that missing link between brand messaging, kind of overall statement about what the brand is and what it is about and the individual conversation you have to have with people and customers. So that takes the form of sales messaging often so we train and consult on how to develop effective and powerful sales messages, we work with nonprofits on donor messaging for major gift officers and I had the one-on-one coaching practice so that is aimed at helping individual speakers deliver more powerful talks that produce change with the audiences that they are presenting to. So whether that is a Ted style talk or whether that is investor pitch for a startup or that is a book author needing to promote their book essentially help people figure how to sell from the stage without selling from the stage.
Mike: That is fantastic and I kind of did know what you did and that is why I had you on because I actually have a production company and we do so many events where the executives go out there and they are spending hundreds of thousand dollars just on building the stage get audio visual and all the crab that goes around that all the messaging stuff they just can’t speak and it is so frustrating and no one tells them that because whenever they come upstage, great job and I am thinking to myself, that wasn’t a great job but I am not in a position to say that to them and so it is an interesting thing because someone like you, I have worked with a couple of different people that do the same thing you do and it is amazing how different they are when they get up there you know they really are on target with their message, it is just something that I mean it is great to have you on here to talk a little bit about it too.
Tamsen: I mean it is incredibly rewarding stuff I mean it is part of what I love the most about it and why I do the workshops that we do for other people, I do a lot of consulting because I spent eighteen years of my career on the inside of organizations and in agencies doing branding and marketing and messaging so I get it but the thing that I always really love was being able to see that personal transformation that could happen and that is what I really love about coaching speakers.
Mike: Right and it is so important and I guess people, executives really know their business but communicating their business is a whole other bargain.
Tamsen: Well it is something that is so strange it isn’t something that any of us will ever talk I mean we figure we have been talking since however young I mean for some of us since you know one or two years old so we figure, oh hey I got this, unfortunately there are natural instincts about what to say when we are in front of people particularly when there is a purpose that we are about what we are speaking our natural instincts are just very, very bad. There are six classic mistakes people make with their presentations any individual one of which might be fatal but most people make more than one and again it is all fixable, it isn’t about natural talents but it is absolutely about being aware of how do people, the people that we are talking to process information and how can you align what you say and how do you say it so that they understand and act on what you are saying.
Mike: Are those six things, are there something that you can share with us right now or is that part of your workshop?
Tamsen: Oh, well I mean honestly we can all answer these for ourselves because if you think through the last say ten conference presentations you saw what were the issues with them and you would come up with basically the six things that people do that wreck presentations, the first one is it is all about them, that is the classic selling from the stage it is let me tell you well about me and all the things that I have done and you said they are going what relevance does this have to me or anything that I have got going on or why should I care? That is mistake number one, mistake number two, we have all experienced this is well we call it the fine art fire horsy, we just pack way too much information in into a short period of time and this makes people go over time and you see people getting restless and then people just check out and start checking their phones in the middle of the presentation. There are still people out there using bolded power-points just you are misusing the tool you’ve got at your disposal, another one is that people make their appeal solely to people intellect and let me tell you all the rationales why this is the right thing to do but then don’t pull out together in any kind of way the first one would be there is in fact no story to help people present information and one of the big things of current speakers is that they have seen the popularity of the mystical blog post, let me tell you there are 50 things you need to know about ted X and I think they can turn that into a presentation but as it turns out that is about the worst thing you could do as far as transmitting information to people and getting them to remember it is to give them the list of things to remember rather than reading that into a story. And the final thing is losing them right upfront by just not starting the right way, there is absolutely a guaranteed way to get people to stand up and pay attention it isn’t asking them a question, it isn’t telling a joke it is about figuring out how do you get into their world with them and most speakers don’t do that and they lose people in the first five minutes. So that is the quick thing the people do wrong.
Mike: Fantastic, it is fantastic I know for myself I am just terrified to get there in front of people so that is not on your list but I am even before the actual instinct is that I am afraid they are going to attack me or boo me or throw things at me.
Tamsen: When you think about people and talks aren’t effective the thing you don’t come away with usually is men that guy seems scared, I mean sometimes yes but our whole approach and I think this is part of why it is so reassuring to people is that anybody can become an extraordinary presenter regardless of natural talents. Are there things that come naturally to some people? Absolutely but the secret to nerves is actually two fold I mean first there is two kind of nerves there is the nerves that are natural, everybody gets them, it is the adrenaline rush you get before you are about to do something big but those are good nerves, those are gasoline, they are energy, they are the things that get you going. But the second kinds of nerves are nerves that come from not being fully confident in what you dare to say and the cure for that is spending time on making sure that what you say is absolutely something that you are passionate about, something that you believe in, and that you know you’ve done the work to make sure that it is structured in such a way that it is the best possible combination and collection of information for that audience that it could possibly be and honestly I just picked this up, for kicks and giggles I picked up Dale Carnegieoriginal 1915 book “The art of public speaking” and he makes this great point about nervousness and said you know what, if the room you are in is on fire, you have no issue getting up in front of the room and telling people to get the hell out. That is because you believe in your message so strongly and you know your message is that important and his point is that you need to get to that point with whatever you are presenting because if you believe in the strength of your message, your role in it, yourself consciousness, your nervousness just doesn’t exist and I completely agree with that.
Mike: It is very good I agree, whatever in you are saying but I am still terrified but it is really interesting. So you also are involved with the TedX Cambridge and you are an executive producer, how long have you been doing that with them?
Tamsen: I have been doing that for about six months now, we just did the first event that I was executive producer for a couple of weeks ago in early June and we have another one coming out in September.
Mike: And so you did a lot of this with the speakers then I am assuming.
Tamsen: I did so, yes I did unlike a lot of the ted X events, so a lot of ted X events have a full day of speakers sometimes upwards of 40/50 speakers with ted X Cambridge we took a different approach, we wanted to be evening event, a premium event and so we only do one blog of content which means we usually only have about seven or eight speakers and part of what we want to do is because we have fewer speakers we have an ability to offer those speakers much more in depth coaching so they get all the coaching I do one on one with clients as speaker can that is for Ted X Cambridge so they all go through these methodologies and process that I use with my coaching client and with our corporate clients through this process of figuring out what to say, how to say it, making sure that we solve for all those if six fit on the six and then get them comfortable with speaking on stage so that is all part of my responsibility with Ted X Cambridge and I love it, so much fun.
Mike: Yeah what a great area, I have a couple of clients out there at Genzyme and Sanafee and it is just a need area I mean like there is someone here in San Francisco too kind of similar they do the evening event kind of a thing too but what a great idea to really coach those guys when they get up there.
Tamsen: Well I mean for most of these people they have a ted talk somewhere on their bucket list most people won’t make it to the ted stage but the ted X events are an opportunity to do that because all ted X events are reviewed by ted and over the course of the year they will feature talks from the ted X stages on the main website. So it absolutely is possible for you to use a ted X event to get to the prominence of ted and I think that that makes it worth putting that extra effort in because this might be your ted talk. So I think anybody even whether they are ted X Cambridge or not if they are ever invited to do a ted X event it should be something where they spend extra time on it because no other talk will get the kind of potential exposure to that talk will.
Mike: And that should be interesting for you too.
Mike: I mean to see how this works out it is just like going up the ratings or is it like going up the chart on the music, you know you are number one, I mean people you coach could go right up to the ladder there.
Tamsen: Yes, well I said from the beginning it is still my goal to get as many of my speakers featured on Ted as I can and that is part of what I put in there because I mean I am part of the process, I am the final say about who we choose to go forward or not so the group to decide who the pool is and I am the person that says okay this is a great idea, this is the person I think we can get to the point that can get to get there but yes you point out, I have got something on the line too I get very personally invested in these speakers like I love the ideas that they have got, they are such wonderful people and the most wonderful thing that is fairly unique to ted versus business or corporate presentation is that the thing that people are talking about is the thing that drives them as humans and when you get someone talking about that they just light up and there is just nothing better than being able to help pull that out of people, help them to articulate in a powerful way, help them get to a point where they just feel super comfortable on stage because that is my goal is that I want you to see an idealized version of you on stage not an idealized version of a speaker. I would want the idealized version of Mike McAllen up on stage so that you feel like you see that recording of you and you go yeah that is absolutely me, that is me at my best, that is me talking about something I love and talking about it in such a way that I get this amazing response from the audience which just then feeds you more and just keeps that cycle going it is a really powerful thing to see.
Mike: It is so cool, that is great and so are they up the videos?
Tamsen: They are interviewed by Ted right now so before the Ted X, individual Ted X locations they have to be reviewed before Ted will put them up but they are in that process so very soon you can check there and they will be linked to from Ted X Cambridge own site which is as you would guess tedxcambridge.com.
Mike: Okay so as you were talking I was just thinking of all the clients that I have that I wish they would do this for all their clients I mean all their speakers and these events that we, we do a lot of sales meetings, stuff like that you know sales meetings and the national sales meetings kind of stuff and it would just be great. So what is the process normally? So you will do one on ones let’s say we had an event coming up, would you come in and be like work with them before hand and you company or you, how does that work?
Tamsen: Yeah so the best way it works if we are coaching a group of speakers as a group which is kind of a like version that I would do if I am coaching somebody one on one is to an extent possibly run everybody through the presentation workshop skills that we teach which is depending on how much information we want to cover it on a day or day and a half, typically be the situation that we are talking about a day, so we bring all the speakers together to do the workshops or everybody is operating on the same information, and then everything from basically then until a point where we start doing delivery coaching happens in the cloud so I use a combination of tools one of which is a tool that basically fills the gap before power point and a lot of people use power point as the thing that they conceptualize their talk in first, but that is a recipe for disaster so we have developed something that matches the methodology that we do and then at the point that we start shifting individuals that we move people through but combination of that Goggle Hangouts or Skype or Go to Meeting or whatever back and forth, I use a lot of audio recording as well and just move people kind of through the process to help get them get their talks in shape or get them in the best place. I mean there are obviously different levels which we can do that but the Ted model is to get everyone on the same page and then move people as a group to the process so that we are kind of reviewing at various stages prior to the event; what are the major points? How are you going to organize them? How are you going to make them engaging? What are you going to do on stage from a visual standpoint in order to support that and then we move people into some of the basics of delivery coaching as well.
Mike: Very interesting, so before we get into the workshop that is coming up in August, tell me about speaking too, so you are a speaker?
Tamsen: I am, yes.
Mike: So tell me about like what people could hire you for, for coming in and speaking.
Tamsen: Well there is no better ticket to showing people what I do than to do it myself so I think that is the best example. Typically what I talk about are things revolving around not just speaking but messaging because ultimately I feel it doesn’t matter where you say something or how if the message isn’t right. So typically what I come in and talk with people about are things like the branding messaging value proposition, how can you articulate your brand in such a way that it actually differentiates your brand from the rest of the market place because most people differentiate on features and benefits but that is not what drives your customers to action. So I talk about what that is, what does drive customers to action and how to shape your marketing messages around that, I talk about how to bridge the sales and marketing gap again using an approach that takes the best of both worlds so marketing is very much a special as to what people need to know in order to make approaches and sales very much experts will how do you get people to do things and usually when we try to close that gap we just try to stitch those two things together but the problem is, the reason why that doesn’t work is there is a very important step that happens in between and in how humans makes decisions that you have to account for and the good news is that the thing that happens in between is something that both marketing and sales contribute to. And then the other thing that I tend to talk about are related more directly to speaking so for people who do a lot of content development I have one that I speak on, how to move from keyboard to keynote, how to make your writing more powerful and when you need to take that writing to the stage, how you translate and then also kind of a shortened version of the day and a half workshop is how can you be a better presenter right now and kind of the quick overview of those six fatal flaws and how to fix them, so that is a quick variety.
Mike: Yeah that is great, so tell me about the upcoming workshop in August? And what is going on there I know you have one coming up like 2 days but this won’t be up in time and it is sold out.
Tamsen: Exactly, but there is one coming up in Chicago, so Chicago August 7th and 8th there will be information on the Oratium website which is Oratium.com it will be at Chicago I believe at the Chicago club, that is a day and a half workshop, what you get in that day and a half workshop is the complete overview of our process and methodology, you understand what it is that makes communication successful, a simple framework for understanding that, tools to solve each of the six major issues of presentation design and on the 2nd day we focus on how to shape your delivery to make sure you land that design. So contrary to a lot of other presentations workshops we spend the majority of time actually in how to put the presentation together, not how to design your slides but how do you structure the argument in the first place. And for us delivery isn’t about ferocious eye contact and bold opening statements and not saying amen, it is about shifting how you say what you say in order to powerfully land a small number of big ideas. Both presentations weekly land a large number of not very important ideas but the real important thing for us to do is get to that point of powerfully landing a small number of big ideas and that is what the day and a half does.
Mike: Nice, okay well thank you so much for speaking with me.
Tamsen: You are welcome thanks so much for having me.
Mike: And how can people find you?
Tamsen: They can find me on Linked In, Tamsen Webster, they can find me on tweeter @tamadeer and they can find more about Oratium at Oratium.com.
Mike: Nice, and you also have a website of your own?
Tamsen: I do tamsenwebster.com it is the child of the cobbler.
Mike: Thank you so much I really appreciate your help and I hope to have you back on again someday.
Tamsen: I would love it.
Mike: Okay thank you so much. Okay that was fun talking to Tamsen, so I want to thank Jon Trask from AV for Planners, Jon and I are working hard on AV for Planners I am an investor full disclosure in AV for Planners, I also am a partner, I wanted to thank Jon it was really fun down at IINFOCOMM we met a lot of AV companies for AV for Planners and talked to a lot of people and of course Jon as you just listened to really had some great things to share. I want to thank Tamsen Webster, I really enjoyed talking to Tamsen I got a lot out of that interview personally so I hope you did and you can get her or her information off the website there after being in this podcast website and I want to thank our sponsors IMEX America coming up in October, make sure you are there Jon and I will be there where we are going to have an AV for Planners booth where we are going to turn a podcast for them coming up which should be really fun and that is it. So if you are enjoying the show grab your mobile, take a little picture of yourself, post it up on instagram where you are right now listening and when you have posted it put the hash tag #meetingspodcast, if you have any questions or have some ideas for me, some interviews for us, somebody you think we should talk to, send me an email; [email protected] or you can call me 925-699-3190, send me a text, I would love to hear from you. That is it I hope you all enjoy your week, bye, bye.