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ThomSingerMusings on Meetings

By Thom Singer

Thom Singer is a member of the MPI-THCC chapter and is a professional speaker, trainer and consultant. He's known as "The Conference Catalyst" for his unique program, designed to transform how attendees engage at multi-day business and association events. Welcome, Thom!

I’m So Busy

Ask anyone how they are doing, and often without a moment's hesitation most will reply, "I am so busy." Busy has become the new "fine" in regards to casual responses in human interaction. Our business and professional lives are often defined by how many activities can be scheduled on the calendar, and being busy has become the desired state to prove success. Busy has become a faux badge of honor, and to many people it has become a measurement of their self-worth. To be able to show the world that you are busy is internally a way to justify our daily lives, our contributions, and to find a place of stature in society.

But is busy better? And has it become a socially acceptable catch-all excuse to get out of doing any other activity that we deem less important? Can people question "busy"?
 

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A Single Point of View Can Be Wrong (Even Your Own)

I recently attended a conference where the closing keynote presentation was a 90-minute talk by a celebrated industry expert who had given many speeches, including a TEDx Talk. The organizers had spent a lot of effort hyping this general session, and I came into the room with high hopes. During the session I sat with a friend who, like me, earns his living as a professional speaker and master of ceremonies. In all fairness, having speakers watch other speakers can be a tough situation, as many of us are highly critical of those who take the stage (and this is often true of anyone who sees others perform the work they do regularly).

This particular talk was not to my liking. I was not being hypercritical, but I just did not like the speaker's style. While the presentation had useful content, the way he structured his words did not resonate with me. He was not awful, but I simply did not like how he spoke to the audience. The longer the speech went, the more I was convinced this session was a failure.
 

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Plan to “Think Big” in 2015

January brings with it hope for a spectacular year of success. A new year signifies a fresh start, and many people are excited by the fresh start that comes with a new calendar. But are you limiting your own success? Is your plan for 2015 going to allow you to achieve the things you desire in your personal and professional life? Do you even have a plan?
 
Too many people (including myself) do not achieve their highest potential because they allow false limitations keep them from doing the amazing things they dream about. When we think about our goals for the New Year, we most likely let our past successes and failures dictate the beliefs of what we could accomplish in the future. Yet when I observe my most successful friends, they don't bind themselves with limits. They see life as having endless possibilities.
 

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Learning From Others in “The Biz”

The meetings business is great because of the people. The vast numbers of professionals it takes to produce successful events, including planners, hoteliers, venue operators, transportation companies, caterers, speakers, entertainers, etc., means that we are all constantly exposed to smart individuals – that means we should always be learning.
 
We can all learn from one another. There is value in the friendships we create across the different types of businesses that populate our industry. With each conference we can and should discover new ideas and knowledge. While I invest a lot of time with other speakers (I'm active in the National Speakers Association and have a mastermind group with four peers who share best practices), I also know that those who work in other disciplines in the meetings business are some of the best people to turn to when trying to find ways to improve my business offerings. As a speaker it would be easy for me to only think of meetings from the viewpoint of the conference agenda and how I fit into the meeting. But the more time I spend with other friends in this industry, the better informed I become in understanding what makes a great meeting and how my little piece fits into the whole.
 

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Lead With Praise, Not Critiques

My favorite quote is from Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States:
 
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
 
Too often we humans appoint ourselves into the role of critic. We all do it. We look at a person, and take the pieces we view from our vantage point, and fill in all the blanks. Usually our imaginations fill in negative thoughts and opinions, where we have little or no knowledge, and we undermine the efforts of people who are in the arena fighting the good fight.
 

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