“The only danger is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Thanks, John Lee Dumas for interviewing me on your #1 rated business podcast – Entrepreneur on Fire.
John is different than most interviewers. Instead of asking the usual questions about business tips, he encourages his guests to be reflective about their journey as an entrepreneur. For example
- What’s your most important lessons-learned?
- What’s a favorite book that’s influenced you?
- What’s a quote that motivates you?
- Who is a mentor who’s shaped you?
It was an opportunity to think back over the last 20+ years and pull out insights that might be of interest and value to others. One of my favorite questions was, “What’s a recent ‘aha’ that’s changed the way you do business?”
I told John, “It happened at 30,000 feet.”
He said, “That sounds interesting. Tell me more.”
“I was flying to Europe to conduct a series of evening programs for EO. I was strategizing how best to keep these high-performers intrigued. Here’s what I knew about them.
- EO’ers are accustomed to being in charge. They’re smart, smart, smart, mostly in their 30’s, and as one of them told me, “We have the attention span of a gnat.”
- They’re accustomed to the best of the best at their international conventions. They’ve heard world-class experts and would walk out if they felt my information was too basic or “soft.”
- All spoke English, but for many it was their second language. Trying to interpret a “foreigner” could demand bandwidth they didn’t have after a l-o-n-g day at work.”
It was clear to me that a traditional, top-down lecture where they were forced to sit, listen and be taught, was not an option. The only way to keep them engaged was to set up a highly interactive experience that put them in the driver’s seat where everyone would be learning from each other.
This interactive format disrupts the standard parent-child, teacher-student approach that is at the core of many presentations. The “I’m the expert; you’re not. I know, you don’t” top-down model is broken. Today’s audience members want and deserve to be co-creators of their experience.
Are You Engaging Your Audience Members?
“I get a little antsy if I don’t have some control.” – Amy Poehler, SNL alum
Face it. All of us get a little antsy if we don’t have some control.
With the advent of the internet, we post what we want, when we want, on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. We create our own music stations on Pandora. We vote for who stays and who goes on our favorite TV show. We customize our own meals at Chipotle.
Then, we go to a conference or business program and have no control. We don’t get a vote and we don’t get a voice. We’re supposed to sit passively, take notes, and receive the knowledge being given to us. We don’t get opportunities to connect. We don’t get opportunities to contribute our ideas. We don’t get opportunity to customize what we just heard to our priorities so we can produce real-world results that are relevant to us.
My epiphany on that plane was to never again give a one-way presentation. From that day forward, my role was to create a productive, pro-active, connected, community where everyone in the room had opportunities to contribute to each other and be experts.
In other words, I was going to set up a scenius.
What’s a scenius? It’s a word coined by musician Brian Eno, meaning “half scene-half genius.”
Did you see the movie Midnight in Paris? Remember Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali and F. Scott Fitzgerald hanging out together in the cafés of Paris? That was a scenius. Instead of going it alone and operating in isolation, they gathered together to talk about their projects, swap ideas and feed off each other’s energy. As a result, they elevated each other’s work and creativity.
In my new book “Got Your Attention?” I share several ways to set up a scenius so your meetings and gatherings give participants an opportunity to contribute and “co-create” the meeting and are engaged from start to finish. .
Chapter 14 shares the story of how General Manager Mike White rotated the leadership of the monthly staff meetings at the Kaanapali Hotel amongst the different department heads, which resulted in employees looking forward to meetings because they were being done BY them instead of TO them.
Want to make your meetings, presentations and training workshops more intriguing and engaging?
Check out “Got Your Attention?” and discover how to create a scenius, AND how to involve people so the want to listen and are eager to participate.