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The Thrival Institute
Paul O. Radde, Ph.D. -- Thrive to Thrival Paul O. Radde, Ph.D. -- Thrive to Thrival
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Boulder , CO
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Thrival Institutehttps://thrival.comDr. Paul O. RaddeMon, 18 Nov 2019 22:40:40 +0000en-UShourly1Take Your Seats, Please: Paul Radde Shares His Wisdomhttps://thrival.com/2017/08/take-your-seats-please-paul-radde-shares-his-wisdomhttps://thrival.com/2017/08/take-your-seats-please-paul-radde-shares-his-wisdom#respondTue, 15 Aug 2017 22:31:12 +0000https://thrival.com/?p=161Reprinted from Meetings Today, August, 2017

When it comes to creating engagement at meetings, there are myriad new formats and content options one can explore and implement. But sometimes it pays to just get down to basics: seating.

Dr. Paul O. Radde

Dr. Paul O. Radde

One person who’s been doing that for about 35 years is Dr. Paul O. Radde, author of Seating Matters, the definitive industry tome on how to make sure your attendees have that most basic of tools to truly be connected to whatever programming is being presented. Radde also presents a session titled “The Architecture of Engagement” to meeting planners and meeting facilities professionals.

According to Radde, common assumptions regarding traditional seating sets can often be incorrect, such as rounds creating engagement opportunities. In fact, having a room set in rounds or crescents—especially rounds greater than five feet—can create numerous “pinch points” that hinder speaker interaction with an audience.

Setting up straight rows is about the most counterproductive configuration. “If you have straight rows, you don’t have a meeting,” Radde said. “I’ve never seen an orchestra conducted that uses straight rows—you can’t do it. Look at a presentation as something that’s being conducted.”

Straight-row configurations can also be challenging for those with hearing impairment, or for those who are getting on in years and suffering age-related hearing difficulties. (It’s also important to make sure the audio has its midrange frequencies turned up for the same reason.)

“If you face each seat toward the presentation, then people are able to point their nose right at it with both ears functioning,” Radde said.

“It’s more engaging for the presenter as well if there is some degree of curvature in the rows. If people can see each other they tend to laugh much more deeply and longer, and if people laugh at the same things, then they very well may speak with each other, as it gives them something to engage around.”

Radde recommends using rectangular or square table setups in many instances. Set the rectangular table with the narrow end pointed toward the presentation, in a sunburst pattern. This allows attendees to flow in and out easier and also talk to everyone at their table without pumping the decibel level. This configuration also allows for more-efficient note-taking and laptop use, with all of their incumbent wires that can clutter the environment.

While detailing all of Radde’s very precise recommendations for geometric seating patterns and measurements would take a much longer story to cover adequately, a very basic piece of advice for planners is one that anybody can and should implement:

“Come in and see whether the results or the impact you’re expecting your setup design to have is actually the result you got,” Radde advised meeting planners. “If they even just take a few minutes themselves, sit in that presentation to see what it’s like in different positions in the room.”

Seating Matters can be ordered via Amazon or Radde’s website, www.thrival.com.

Making The Perfect Speaker Introductionhttps://thrival.com/2014/12/making-the-perfect-speaker-introductionhttps://thrival.com/2014/12/making-the-perfect-speaker-introduction#respondFri, 26 Dec 2014 17:35:15 +0000https://thrival.com/?p=104Creating a Seamless Handoff: From Introducer to Speaker

Cavett Robert, our late and beloved founder, impressed the role of the introducer in the mind of his colleagues with this statement, “You are not the picture. You’re the frame. The frame sets off the picture.”

If you have ever had an introduction, given an introduction, or plan on introducing or being introduced, there are several specific points you need to know:

Speaker Responsibility

The introduction needs to be taken seriously. Often the introducer is someone who ordinarily would not even be let on the platform, says veteran MC and CPAE, Ty Boyd. So, what is a speaker to do?

Maggie Bedrosian says you should write out your introduction and get it to the introducer in advance. Then have them read it back to you. Make sure they have pronunciation correct. Spell out your name phonetically, or state what it “rhymes with,” advises John Jay Daly. And always carry a copy of the introduction with you. David Alan Yoho, CPAE, who speaks and MC’s, finds that at least 30% of the time, the introducer loses the written introduction he was sent in advance. Of course, you can write a new introduction on the spot in longhand. But, that does not allow for the word crafting you may want. If you do want your introduction read exactly as is, write it down, and get agreement from your introducer.

Maggie advises introducing an element of surprise or delight, providing a “tasty” introduction that draws attention. Find a word as concrete as “broccoli” to startle or arouse curiosity. She recommends that your final sentence be a “bridging” statement including a benefit, such as, “Here to share surprising information on how a bumper sticker can [benefit] put more balance in your life is…..” The speaker can then provide a seamless continuation by using some of the same words in her opening sentence.

Nido Qubein, CPAE, uses his read-as-written introduction to position himself as “a business person who happens to speak” by citing specific business connections. His written intro also keeps the introducer from digressing, and builds the anticipation of the audience toward Nido’s opening comments.

Humor May Take a Special Set-Up

Ron Culberson gives his introducer a choice of four introductions. Ron is happy to go with any one of them. However, if the introducer chooses his humorous introduction, he requires that it be read exactly as written. David Alan Yoho reports, that one nervous introducer took the directions to: “read as written” so literally that he even read the stage directions – “now shake David’s hand.”

Tom Antion uses a well tested laugh line in his introduction to gauge the receptiveness of his audience. He has two openings ready to go. One is for the audience that needs warming up, while the other is for the audience that is ready to laugh.

The Introducer Role: Establishing Protocol

You are not the focus. However you do set the tone and pace for the opening. You are a leader for the audience. You model the behavior you want the audience to adopt. You capture attention and control immediately, then transfer both to the speaker. Nido asks himself, when he introduces, “Am I accomplishing with this introduction, what this speaker needs to make a perfect connection with this audience?”

Introducer Responsibility: “There to Serve, Not to Shine”

Ty Boyd advocates using the name of the speaker 3-4 times in your introduction. You are, after all, introducing that individual. Help the audience make an interesting connection while totally focusing the introduction on that person. Convey why this speaker was selected or how this speaker fits into the theme, or this place on the program. The reason this speaker is giving this speech at this time, is more interesting than a series of credentials.

If you can, personalize the introduction: provide a current tie-in, e.g. topic to theme, event, location, group, or even to that specific day or purpose for the meeting. Cite facts about the speaker emphatically in declarative sentences, rather than tentatively. Avoid words such as “probably,” “I think,” “maybe,” or “could be.”

Don’t upstage the speaker in any way: style, dress, or energy. You cannot be the hero of any part of this, so use no more than 5% personal reference about yourself as the introducer. CPAE Patricia Fripp would not, for example, wear a flamboyant hat in introducing someone, as she would if she were the featured speaker. And Nido stands at the side of the stage, leaving center stage completely to the speaker. He also reads the speaker’s written introduction, rather than showcasing his own communication style.

Playing “second chair” includes giving the speaker first choice on audience relief short of taking a break before the speech. If the audience has been sitting a long time, let the speaker give them a stretch before he begins. That can build an instant rapport with the audience, rather than the speaker being perceived as the last person they will have to tolerate on a long program.

The Introduction:

An introduction provides the answers to the following questions: Why this speaker, this subject, this audience, at this time? John Jay Daly applies what was, pre-political correctness, called the miniskirt rule to introductions: “It should be short enough to be interesting, and long enough to cover the subject.” Ty Boyd says that “one minute is a gracious plenty for most people. You can qualify anyone in 30-60 seconds. Too much data and they snooze.”

The better known the individual, the less an introduction is necessary. For example, Gen. Colin Powell needs little introduction, but would probably be given at least an introduction of moderate length out of respect.

Ty suggests that one way to build intimacy is to be a little “gossipy,” relating something of a personal nature, a little known fact, or a special talent, relationship, or community service of the speaker. For example, “What you may not know about this evening’s speaker is….” Don’t overbuild or set up the speaker as “the world’s funniest.” Instead, refer to her as “a very, very funny woman.” Ty further suggests that you pause ever so briefly as you say the speaker’s…title….first name…and last name.

And when the introduction goes a little overboard… David Alan Yoho has several comments rehearsed to reduce the effects of hyperbole [hype] in his introduction. When someone sets him up, he defuses with humor and humility, “Four things I don’t know are…..” then spells them out. “Luckily, were not dealing with them tonight.” Or, “I’ve spent my life learning….., and that’s what I’m here to share. I only hope that I can make our time together interesting this evening.”

Choosing Your Entrance

At one recent national convention, three showcase presenters in a row made run-up-on-the- stage-Tony Robbins style entries. This was supposed to say, “Wake up! High energy speaker arriving.” Unfortunately, each speaker then panted through the first 2-3 minutes of his presentation. To be convincing, you have to be in condition. Get in shape or find an approach that is more natural to you. Don’t choose a rousing rally-type introducer if you are relatively low key and would not naturally maintain that energy level.

Transferring Command:

Once the introduction is made, the introducer does not relinquish the stage until command is clearly transferred to the speaker. The introducer needs to know what the speaker is going to do when she comes out. The specifics of this hand-off should be discussed between speaker and introducer, choreographed, and practiced on that very stage prior to the introduction. President Reagan always practiced his entry. Professional speakers need to be on site early enough to practice on the actual stage set.

Note the placement of the staircase. Plan for a smooth flow on and off the platform. Place one stair set for easy entry; another for easy exit. Mark a spot on the stage for the introducer if helpful. Introducer, do not relinquish the lectern, stage position, or microphone until you have welcomed the speaker on stage, shaken hands, embraced, or whatever specifics you have worked out to facilitate the hand off.

Once the speaker arrives at the lectern, you are ready to exchange places and then, sit down. Be a good listener. Leave the congratulations on your performance for later. Model, how you want the audience to react by keeping your full attention on the speaker.

Introducer Responsibilities After the Introduction

Once you have transferred command, you may become the Sergeant at Arms for the room, monitoring and anticipating the needs of both speaker and audience alike. Many of these items can be worked out with the speaker in advance, or may already be delegated to others. However, there is always the unforeseen. And that is where you come in.

If you remain standing, the better to oversee arrangements, keep your primary focus on the speaker and avoid distracting sidebar conversations with others. You need to know the location of the basic controls and settings for the room. And you need to move without hesitation at the first hint of someone vacuuming the carpet just outside the door.

Do not otherwise leave the room unless you absolutely have to. And then leave only after the speaker gains the attention of the audience.

Optimizing the Narrow Room Set-Uphttps://thrival.com/2014/12/optimizing-the-narrow-roomhttps://thrival.com/2014/12/optimizing-the-narrow-room#respondFri, 26 Dec 2014 17:34:22 +0000https://thrival.com/?p=103Narrow Room; Limited Options

As an experienced meeting planner, you have probably dealt many times with narrow rooms. Usually they result when the airwalls are drawn on a general session size ballroom, slicing that room into 4-8 breakout rooms. Now you are left to deal with these slivers. What is your best option?

The Bowling Alley Set

Meeting facility staff, left to their own devices, will automatically give you a bowling alley set with an aisle up the center and a few chairs on both sides. That stacks everyone directly behind those in the front rows, leaving a fan of heads to see around. A tall platform can provide enough elevation to make the presenter visible.

Those in the back of the room may be as much as 95 to 115 feet from the presentation. That distance alone is an obstacle. The presenter often is about as distinguishable as a duck pin in this bowling alley set.

Lighting for the Hearing Impaired

Those who are hearing impaired – whether from age or damage from high decibel music – need to be able to see the presenter in order to read lips. That is a major challenge at over 30 feet. And, since lighting the presenter is typically an afterthought in breakout rooms, only an exquisite sound system, or expensive televising, will make the presentation work for everyone attending. What are your options? And how do you get the facility to deliver? First, the design.

Optimizing the Narrow Room Set-Up

The J Shape Room Design

The J Shape seating configuration [see illustration] optimizes the learning experience. It was developed in collaboration with my colleague, Michael McKinley, CSP, CSAE. It uses all but principle 5, of the 6 Audience Centered Seating Principles. These are:

  1. Set to the long side of the room
  2. Curve the rows so participants can see each other
  3. Flare aisles 45 degrees angle. No center aisle
  4. Set each chair directly toward the presentation
  5. Provide single chair access lanes in larger sections
  6. Set the back row directly to the back wall

Ensuring the Set You Ask For

How do you ensure getting the room set-up that you ask for? I know from interviews with dozens of meeting planners and speakers that requests break down in numerous ways. So, here is one approach that may work for you.

You will need five copies, minimum, of the illustrated and detailed room set-up you are requesting. Adapt it to the room shape and dimensions. Make the diagram a distinct factor in your contract negotiations. The more specificity and detail the better.

Take two copies to your original meeting with the facility sales and marketing staff. Include the convention operations manager in this portion of the discussion, and get that person’s understanding of the design, and agreement. Leave one copy as an attachment to that part of the agreement. Make sure Convention Operations gets one copy.

One month prior to the event, check with Convention Operations regarding any turnaround concerns for the room. Make sure they still have the diagram. Send an additional copy for the Foreman or Supervisor of the shift that will do the set-up.

Once you arrive at the facility, review the work orders with Convention Operations. Check specific room sets. If your diagram is missing, provide another copy, and discuss any anticipated difficulty in attaining your set-ups. Include the shift foreman in this discussion, and make sure to have another diagram for him.

Finally, at the beginning of the shift that will set your rooms, talk with the supervisor. If it is the midnight to dawn shift, ask when your room will be finished, when you can check it out. Volunteer to be present when the crew begins. Then be there in sufficient time to direct the crew, address fine points, or make corrections. Usually a clear explanation to the crew members, together with the diagram, will get the desired room set.

One and a half to two hours before the presentation, revisit the room. Crews have been known to think a set-up was wrong, and re-do it into a standard bowling alley. Contact Convention Operations, the foremen, or any available crew to get it changed back. Have an extra copy of the diagram with you. Depending on numbers, you may do some or all of it yourself. Or, you can wait until the participants come in. Have the basic stage and A/V set to the middle of the long side, and then make the participants’ resetting of their chairs part of an icebreaker exercise.

* “J” Design
Room dimensions: 40′ x 14′
Room capacity: 91-92

Audience-centered Seating Principles

  1. Set to the long wall
  2. Curve the seating for visibility. No straight lanes into long rows.
  3. Flare aisles 45 off the corners of the podium. No center aisle.
  4. Face each chair directly toward the stage.
  5. Cut single chair veins or access rows every sixth chair.
  6. Set the last row to the back wall in concurrents/breakouts.
Give Your Audience the “Best Seats in the House”https://thrival.com/2014/12/give-your-audience-the-best-seats-in-the-househttps://thrival.com/2014/12/give-your-audience-the-best-seats-in-the-house#respondFri, 26 Dec 2014 17:34:04 +0000https://thrival.com/?p=102
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