Neither am I, but that doesn’t matter in Scene Change’s Australia’s Coolest Event Person award contest. Most event industry awards involve writing thesis-length submissions and getting written references.
Not this one, you can just make stuff up. And the more far-fetched the claim, the better.
Then all you have to do to win deluxe designer sunglasses is get people to vote for you.
There’s no doubt which state leads Australia in moustache production. That would be Tasmania.
While other states dropped the mo for a couple of decades, or only resurrected them for ironic purposes, great Tasmanians like David Boon and David Foster scaled the heights of achievement while sporting classic handlebar facial growth.
David Foster: Mo Hero
Inspired by these mighty Tasmanian heroes, the team from Scene Change Tasmania are stepping up for their second run at Movember. Last year’s efforts raised an impressive sum of money toward important yet often ignored men’s health issues such as depression and prostate cancer.
Movember was started in Australia in 2003, and has since spread across the world, a testament to the global appeal of the mo.
Now it’s your chance to support the intrepid team of Gareth Percey, Rod Street, Ben Coombe, Damien Free, Dean Vervaart, Ben Wallace, Paul Davies, Josh Warwick and Matt Walker.
Sign up as a donor here and watch their mo’s unfold during the course of the month.
A big thank you to the Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, who have given us permission to look like pool cleaners around the hotel for the month.
And for some valuable information on whether facial hair on presenters affects audience trust , look here.
PS. Our clients can be assured it won’t go quite this far (pic via @cyantaeed):
One of the things that bothers me about blogs is that lots of them just leech off other peoples’ work.
They’re the on-line version of lazy radio talkback jocks, who read out someone else’s newspaper article, then ask listeners “But what do you think? Call us now on 1-800-PLAGIARIZE…”
In blog world, there’s no greater source of borrowed inspiration than Seth Godin, marketing writer, entrepreneur and uber-blogger. People have made action figures of him. Entire blogs seem to exist for no other reason than to comment on Seth’s work and bathe in his reflected wisdom.
So I feel kinda guilty and hypocritical referring to a Godin post, but he’s done 3000 of them and this is the first time he’s specifically commented about AV crews.
He’s talking about how some businesses are staffed by people who take any opportunity to say ‘no’, while others are driven to find ways to say ‘yes’.
“The same thing happens with the tech crew before I give a speech. About 75% of the time, the lead tech guy (it always seems to be a guy) explains why it’s impossible. Impossible to use a Mac, impossible to use the kind of microphone I like, impossible to use my own clicker, etc. And then, the rest of the time, using the same technology, the producer asks, “how can I help make this work for us?” and everything is about yes, not no.”
If you’re having that kind of trouble yourself (and you’re in Australia), you should call Scene Change, an abundant source of yes-oriented technical people. And sometimes, the “lead tech guy” isn’t even a guy!
If you’re in the US, you should call President Obama and find out where he got his AV crew, who also say yes a lot.
Welcome back, folks. Back to work last week and straight down to Tasmania for our own conference with Scene Change people from around the country. And very productive it was, too.
A conference technology company having its own conference raises some interesting questions.
We all speak on a semi-daily basis, face-to-face, via video Skype. This ticks all the conversational boxes. You can hear them. You can see them. You could argue: why bother having a conference at all?
Undercover Communication: Fun to Do, Hard To Manage
The idea of a conference as a series of presentations and formal discussions misses a large part of the picture. Part of the role of any conference presentation is providing material for the discussions that happen in smaller groups after-hours. That’s where friends are made, alliances are formed, stories are told and deals are done. The truth comes out after dark.
Face-to-face, you pick up far more of the non-verbal signals that tell you whether your ideas are getting across or not.
It’s a tricky area for Management, because informal communication is almost impossible to manage. It just takes its own course.
Can The Machines Take Over?
Years ago when I was a corporate communications guy for a big event technology firm, I’d get regular calls from trade journalists writing their annual story on videoconferencing.
“Will videoconferencing replace actual conferences?” they would ask.
A tough question, as I had a vested interest in promoting videoconferencing, since it cost about a million dollars a minute at that time. Even so, the answer was clearly, emphatically ‘no’. Like living on food pills from a robotic vending machine, it’s one of those Jetsons-future ideas that completely misses the point of human nature.
Meetings Are A Personal Thing
Humans are social animals. We like to gather in flocks, preferably with a drink in hand, to gossip and complain and flirt and generally draw comfort from the fact that everyone else has pretty much the same problems as you.
The idea that this can all be replaced by electronic transmissions goes against thousands of years of human instinct. It’s like the idea of telecommuting, which was going to transform our way of life and reshape our cities. As it turned out, it’s fun for a week or so, but unless you seek out human contact, you’ll grow permanent tracksuit pants and turn into a one-person dandruff farm.
Of course, there are meetings that should be replaced by Skype. I know people who regularly fly to another city, have a one-hour meeting in a windowless room at the airport, then fly home again. Personally, I’d rather stand on the side of the highway operating a Stop/Go sign.
The technology is there to support the personal element of meetings, not replace it. Gathering around and telling stories is something that defines us as humans, and that’s something we should celebrate.
It’s the question that every presenter wrestles with. What the hell is on the next slide?
If you just hit the forward button and read it off the screen along with everyone else, you don’t seem like you’re in control.
Worry no longer. Now you can see into the short-term future with a nifty gadget brought to my attention by Kris from Scene Change Sydney.
Strictly speaking, it’s an application for a gadget. It’s Windows Sideshow, part of Windows Vista.
It lets you turn your phone into a remote control for PowerPoint. But you already had one of those. But wait, there’s more! Sideshow displays your current slide, along with your slide notes, and gives you a preview of the next slide.
It gives you controls to skip to any slide and a range of other useful things.
The pic above shows it running on Kris’s HTC Touch Diamond, and he says you can use it on anything with Windows Mobile Version 6.
It works using Bluetooth, so you’ve got a range of about 5 metres.
It almost makes me regret purging all my Windows computers and replacing them with Macs last month. Oh well.
Set your phone to silent mode while you’re presenting. It’s deeply uncool to get a call about bringing home a carton of milk mid-speech.
Open any newsletter at a random page at this time of year and you’ll find an article on ‘How to Survive the Xmas Party Season Without A Career-Ending Atrocity’.
It’s great page-filler. Drink only mineral water! Make sure you mingle with people who can boost your career prospects! Don’t photocopy any sensitive part of your body!
All good on paper, but face it. The most fun you’ll ever have in your life is stuff you shouldn’t have done. Stuff where, for once, you ignored the sensible voices in your head. That’s what alcohol is for.
You spend the entire year exercising supreme self-control, being nice to customers and your superiors.
But if you have to keep your sensible hat on for the Xmas party, then that’s not a party.
It’s a meeting.
I put all those articles in the same category as the ‘How to Arrive Refreshed After a Long Flight’ articles in the travel section. Again, the same Taliban-style tips: drink only water, eat lettuce, take brisk walks up and down the aisle.
These ‘tips’ come from press releases written by the airlines’ accounting departments, who don’t care how you feel when you arrive. What they care about is lowering the alcoholic beverage cost per passenger. It suits the bottom line if you stick to dry bread and water.
No matter what you do, you’re going to get off an international flight feeling like Amy Winehouse on a Sunday morning. What’s the point of the hangover without the party? Sit back, like a Roman emperor, and knock back anything that comes past on a trolley. At least it’ll help you sleep in the origami position.
So ignore all this puritan advice. We did some unscientific phone research on the Christmas party habits of some well-regarded special event producers. A typical response was:
“Once the clients leave, we party like rock stars.”
And that’s what you should do. Go nuts this Christmas. We might all be living in appliance cartons and eating rabbit by February, so what have you got to lose?
It’s certainly what we’re doing this week, in various cities, so blog posts might be a bit intermittent.
Call us hypocrites after last year’s cautionary Scene Change Xmas video, but like governments, you have to adapt to changing times.
Two weeks into Movember, and Scene Change’s team of technical Tasmanian ‘tache test pilots remain committed to the task.
As with any experiment of this kind, there are unexpected results. What a shock it must be to look beneath your nose and see a ginger mo appearing, without a shred of genetic ranga history! A couple of the others are going to get some calls from casting agents, if they end up making a sequel to Dying Breed.
It’s all part of Tasmania’s rich mo heritage.
Its greatest sportsman, David Boon, had a distinguished international cricket career. He was also well known for a prodigious thirst, as noted in Wikipedia:
Boon achieved much fame and notoriety for consuming 52 cans of beer on a flight from Sydney to London before the victorious 1989 Ashes tour that saw Australia regain the trophy after five years of English dominance; the previous record had been held by Rod Marsh, who it is believed consumed 45 cans, although there is conjecture as to whether Marsh actually finished can #45, and some believe his attempt only equalled the record of 44 cans set by Doug Walters. Another passionate report of said record claims Boon finished 54 drinks totalling around 19.5 litres of beverages @ 5% alcohol (per 375ml serve), the majority of which consumed at such an altitude that the effects of the alcohol were doubled.
(This information for our international guests, as every Australian learns this in their first school history lesson).
Mr Boon, showing dignity and discretion befitting his God-like status, has always refused to confirm or deny the truth of this story.
Another Tasmanian sports legend, David Foster, the 25-stone holder of 178 World Woodchopping Titles, would be kitten-weak without his mo. David is also an entertaining professional speaker at corporate events (told you we’d get on topic eventually). If he says listen, they will listen.
Your small donation to the Movember cause would be greatly appreciated. If we get enough people behind this, we’ll widen the program to Scene Change offices in other cities for 2009.
It’s time we dealt with the prickly issue of facial hair on presenters.
When you’re trying to win an audience over, you need to work all the odds in your favor. And as we all know, non-verbal communication is a big part of your message. So, as popular wisdom suggests, does a beard make you look untrustworthy?
Case for the Prosecution: Rasputin, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Charles Manson.
Case for the Defense: Abraham Lincoln, Sean Connery, Santa Claus, Phil Holmes.
I think people generalize too much on this issue. There are beards, and then there are Mad Beards: long, crazy things that get into your soup and interfere with your hand gestures.
Mad Beards should be avoided for most work situations. But then, for a certain type of staff presentation, there’s something to be said for a look that says: “I could have you all killed on a whim.”
If you worked at, say, a major Wall Street investment bank right now, a Mad Beard might help you assert dominance over the frightened survivors.
And the regular beard? To quote an experienced trial lawyer, “defense lawyers almost univerally ask their clients to appear in court clean-shaven, because most members of the public don’t trust men with beards.”
You also often hear: “They look like they’re hiding something.”
Hiding something? What sinister things, exactly, do you think you can hide under a beard? A handgun? A ground-to-air missile? The numerals 666 tattooed on your chin?
To counter this discriminatory beardism, we found some research on the subject. A team of Swedish scientists analyzed how 75 people attributed personality traits to 32 photos of random male faces. They found that:
“They associated wearing glasses with intellectualism and goodness, being bald with idealism, and wearing a beard with unconventionality and goodness.”
The facial hair / trust issue is also covered in this 2006 article on members of the US Congress, including this comment from a then little-known Democratic senator:
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) says he doesn’t have the option of a beard. “I can’t grow facial hair,” he says. “I get whiskers.”
It’s a wonder they haven’t dredged it up for a TV attack ad: “Barack Obama: He’s too weak to grow facial hair. Don’t risk it.”
And the real reason for all this talk of facial hair? The six guys from Scene Change Hobart have signed up for Movember, the annual mo-fest to raise money and awareness for important men’s health issues: prostate cancer and depression. From humble beginnings in Australia a few years ago, Movember is now spreading across the world.
Go on – help out the Movember cause here with a small donation. Or a large one, if you insist.
And if you’re at a conference in Hobart this month, don’t forget to admire the suave pool-cleaner looks of the technical crew.
Ian Whitworth believes passionately in the power of live communication, without the buzzwords and bullet points. He works as a creative director and principal of agency A Lizard Drinking. He is also one of the founders of audiovisual company Scene Change. Ian is an ex-professional presenter and long ago, ex-audiovisual technician. For non-presentation stuff, try @ianwhitworth.