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Tips For Running a Brilliant Speaker Panel

How often have you attended a conference only to sit through poorly managed panels featuring speakers with interesting bios that should have been more effectively engaged by moderators?

I’m at a morning conference listening to potentially interesting people participating in a few poorly moderated panels. Here are a few tips for moderators running panels based on events I’ve organized and joined as well as a conference series I organized for a former blue chip client.

1. Creative. Creatively title the panel. Come up with something that captures attention and draws audience.
2. Pre-interview Panelists. A week prior to the panel, speak with participants by phone to determine their strengths and weaknesses, competencies, and relevant success stories and methodologies you can point to during the panel. Determine questions you might ask panelists from this pre-interview, and during the live panel, draw from a list of these questions.
3. Avoid Lengthy Intros. Rather than turn intros over to panelists who will likely waste valuable time regurgitating bio elements that are usually in print, write a script that excerpts 20 seconds of pertinent information from each speaker’s bio, and get that out of the way quickly so you can get into the topic of the conference.
4. Manage Time. Make sure you manage your time during the actual panel so that you can make it through your questions in ways that engage every participant. If one participant speaks too long and delivers information that is off topic and puts your plan in jeopardy, be proactive and politely cut off the speaker. You’re doing this for everyone’s benefit.
5. Interactive. You are managing time. Make sure the panel is interactive. Ensure that everyone has a chance to speak, and encourage cross-talk.
6. Q&A. Leave some time for audience questions at the end.
7. Twitter. Set up a hashtag (#) for the panel (i.e. #panelname) that folks can use to tweet questions, and announce it at the start of the panel. You might find some potential questions and useful comments from these Tweets from attendees during the panel and incorporate these into the discussion.
8. Inspire. Drive personal energy through the session in ways that inspire the audience.

What are your ideas?

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CLIENT NEWS: GloPos Announces Technology That Makes All Mobile Phones Location Aware

PrintGloPos today announced its software-only positioning technology that makes all mobile phones location aware — outdoors, indoors, and even underground.

GloPos Technology requires only a cellular network to make all mobile phones location aware. No additional hardware like GPS or W-LAN is required on a mobile device for achieving accurate positioning.

“By making all phones location aware, GloPos Technology is set to revolutionize the indoor positioning and social location market, including mobile search and personalized mobile advertising. This will massively expand the positioning market,” said Mikael Vainio, CEO. “GloPos is a superior solution versus W-LAN and GPS-based indoor positioning applications which today serve less than 20 percent of the total yearly 1.3 billion unit mobile device market,” Vainio added.

GloPos’ patent-pending, self-learning algorithms calculate an accurate position fix to within 1-40 meters even in places where no W-LAN access points are available or no GPS can be used (i.e. in shopping malls, subways, underground parking, airports, sports arenas, and exhibition centers). GloPos works wherever cellular network coverage is available.

GloPos Technology does not consume any extra battery life while operating as cell information is already being used to stay connected. GloPos enables longer device usage versus GPS and W-LAN, allowing battery power to be used for more advanced applications and driving more powerful processors.

GloPos co-founders have over 20 years combined mobile experience with Nokia and Ericsson. CEO Mikael Vainio brings to GloPos more than a decade of executive experience with Nokia and Ericsson. Before joining GloPos he served in Ericsson Middle East HQ as Vice President Strategy, Marketing and Communications. Vice-President Alexander Le Bell has held executive positions with leading mobile and technology companies, including Ericsson, Nokia and Philips. He was Ericsson’s Director for Strategy and Business Intelligence for the Middle East. Prior to that he served in Nokia Multimedia, managing the operator business in Central Europe with some of the largest operators in the world, including T-Mobile, Vodafone and O2-Telefonica.

For more information visit:

About GloPos

GloPos was founded in 2009 to bring its new and innovative indoor positioning technology to the mobile consumer marketplace. GloPos is a technology spin-off company of 4TS Corporation, an innovative Finland-based company that develops location- and sensor-based technologies and solutions.

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Congress Needs Team Building and Consensus Training

I have been working with Jeff Dorman, who is a dear friend and client, on a series of videos that articulate his philosophy on executive training. Jeff, who heads JDA International, a leadership training firm based on Princeton, NJ, cut his teeth in the food processing industry building Dorman Cheese with his family into a huge, national brand. Now he’s a highly respected national trainer who serves many Fortune 100 clients.

I’ve been reviewing a series of Jeff’s video segments that my firm produced through which he conveys his philosophy, expertise and experience on a number of topics including public speaking, leadership, employee performance, management, team building, consensus, etc.  I walked away very impressed by the methodology he applied to his training approach which has helped thousands of executives and supervisors perform more effectively and efficiently in financial services, banking, food processing, and manufacturing.

So when I read the NY Times’ story about Obama’s health care plan, and how the Republicans in Congress stood up in opposition to it from the moment it was announced (like just about every other Obama initiative), I realized that Members of Congress could benefit from team building and consensus training from a guy like Jeff Dorman.

As Jeff pointed out in one of his videos, managers often are promoted into positions for which they lack communications, public speaking, and leadership skills.  With some basic coaching, these folks can perform better and so will the company.

Is there a team building opportunity here for Members of Congress?

PS: To learn more about leadership, performance, communication and sales training, check out JDA’s blog.

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Narada Michael Walden’s Let the Sunshine In: Light Descended

IMG_0247Many of you know through my Tweets and Facebook entries that I attended and have been supporting my friend Narada Michael Walden and his Let the Sunshine In Benefit which took place on Memorial Day evening.

Narada asked me right after his incredible show, “What was the highlight, what was the best part for me?” I was speechless, and I felt somewhat incomplete having failed in a moment to find and express words. The reality is I was overwelmed by the greatness and goodness of the evening. There were so MANY highlights. Now I am ready to attempt to answer that question.

Let the Sunshine In
10+ standing ovations.
The Olympics of Music, with every artist breaking a world record.
Perfect string and horn arrangements as Narada recreated and brought to life so many hits from five decades with the original artists who peformed them.
The house band: has any one stage featured better?
The backup singers: sheer brilliance under Claytoven Richardson’s leadership.
The production: Narada’s impeccable, tasteful and pristine imprint on everything.
The Love: we all felt it coming from Narada’s Sunlit Heart.
Christopher Rodriguez in the house – we send him our love.

Nothing in my life has matched my experience of Let the Sunshine In, the benefit concert staged by the great record producer Narada Michael Walden for Christopher Rodriguez, a young Oakland boy paralyzed by a stray bullet in a senseless and random act of gun violence. It was a night I will always remember and cherish.

Why was it amazing? Simple: Narada is a consummate perfectionist who has realized Music at a very sublime level. He is like a High Priest, a Guru, and it’s no surprise that he has been the force behind more than 50 hit records that have enriched the lives hundreds of millions of people around the world….recorded by the likes of Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand and many others. With three Grammys and an Emmy and recognition as a Top 10 Record Producer of All Time by Billboard Magazine — it is Narada’s spirituality-infused life that makes his work important now and forever.

Narada knows how to make great musicians and great music sound better. He knows how to connect music, spirit and audiences. He knows how to put it all together. And the performance on May 25th was powered by a giant engine:

A 16 piece backup band with the likes of Chuck Leavell, keyboardist with the Rolling Stones, Jim Horn, one of the most influential horn arrangers in pop music, and the great keyboardist Frank Martin, who partnered with Narada on the music that was performed. Two bassists, three guitarists, four keyboardists, two percussionists, six horn players (including my friend Premik Russell Tubbs), and it goes on and on.

Minna Choi’s 60-member Magik*Magik Orchestra backed up the artists with a gorgeous palette of texture and color, and featured exceptional students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music led by Maestro Michael Morgan, musical director of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra.

And a production team with pros like Merl Saunders Jr., Tim Jahnigen, Vadim Canby and Kimrea who made everything work for the audience and featured artists:

Sting, who sang several of his brilliant songs, including Fields of Gold and joined in a joyous operatic duet with the incomparable mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.

Madame von Stade, who performed a breathtaking version of Ave Maria. I loved her beautiful spirit and grace.

The great Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis who performed many Fifth Dimension hits, including Up, Up and Away (a song they wrote), Hair, and One Less Bell to Answer. I grew up influenced by the awesome musicality of the Fifth Dimension so hearing Marilyn and Billy brought back a special magic.

Chris Botti and the incredible violinist Lucia Micarelli surprised us with a duet that touched the Gates of Heaven.

We were graced by the great R&B legend Gerald Alston of the Manhattans who performed Shining Star. And by the contemporary jazz acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh who elevated us to a serene place with his classic performance of Living Inside Your Love.

So many others joined, like Mandolin jazz/bluegrass fusion virtuoso Dave “Dawg” Grisman, singer Lisa Fischer, the incomparable Mary Wilson, and Dale “Satchmo” Powers, who invoked the great Louis Armstrong in a performance of What a Wonderful World. With Narada leading the way, the performers just kept hitting the home runs and the audience was overjoyed and overwhelmed.

And the great Bobby Weir and friends jammed it out and lit up Davies Symphony Hall.

So there were superbly great performances. Why was this a significant event? It all starts with Narada Michael Walden.

We met in 1973. I was an aspiring guitarist and Narada an extraordinary drummer. He joined the path of Guru Sri Chinmoy along with Mahavishnu John McLauglin and learned meditation, and I joined a year later at Narada’s invitation. In those days Narada was washing dishes, giving drum lessons and developing his career. His humble beginnings were short-lived, however. For he soon joined the Mahavishnu Orchestra, met Jeff Beck, recorded with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and Jeff Beck, launched a solo recording career, launched a production career, and 11 years later, earned a Grammy as Producer of the Year. Along the way he catapulted the careers of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, relaunched Aretha Franklin’s career, and recorded over 50 hit records for many of the artists who appeared at the concert, including Shanice and Tevin Campbell.

In his life he has collaborated with a who’s who in music because if you’re a really great musician, you probably want to know or work with Narada Michael Walden. Because music always sounds better when Narada is involved.

Narada is aware of Perfection and it’s an intuitive thing. He knows what music can be and should be, and he takes us there. That is a rare place where goodness and greatness meet together with the penultimate peak of musical satisfaction. That’s where Narada lives all the time, which is why so many people like me and the more than 150 people who made this show happen – were deeply grateful to support his work.

So history was made on May 25th in San Francisco at Let the Sunshine In. We were witness to something sublime, soulful, and spiritual. We heard great music and felt Narada ‘s humility, Narada’s love, Narada’s ability to bring Heaven down to earth. And being the giant and generous Soul he is, we all had a chance to participate as performers, as volunteers, and as audience members. We sang Give Peace a Chance and Let the Sunshine In. We were one soulful love fest for sure.

Welcome to the great Song of Love that is Narada’s life. Welcome to the great Spirit who we know as Narada Michael Walden.

We join with Narada in supporting Christopher Rodriguez and the idea that music can inspire youth and should be part of their lives.

And we celebrate the great work of the Narada Michael Walden Foundation. I say, “Rock on!”

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TV in Transition: Dorm Life and 3D

dorm_life_poster_300dpiTelevision has changed. When I was growing up, the family watched TV together in the evening because there was often one TV in the home. Then cable emerged and everyone had a TV in their room. Now kids growing up don’t need a TV box to watch; they can access everything they want on their computer screen, and the source is often user gererated content on YouTube or broadcast content on Hulu.

The past several weeks I’ve been working with Attention Span Media, a social media production studio whose credits include the mega online hit TV series, Dorm Life.
Dorm Life hilariously chronicles the experiences of ten college students residing on “5 South,” a dorm floor on a fictional campus. It’s the most popular web TV series on Hulu with 6+ million views and often called…NBC’s “The Office” goes to college.

Attention Span Media is one example of a small, indy studio producing content that rivals the big ones and reaches mass audiences via a savvy social networking model. In a recent California Chronicle article that my firm placed, Dorm Life was called “a taste of whats to come.” I agree.

Dorm Life is a great Long Tail example of a niche audience (college and high school students) growing so large that the show could easily migrate its audience to another platform; Dorm Life could find a home on traditional broadcast or cable TV and also monetize itself through sales and branded merchandise (shirts) and DVDs.

On the other side of the spectrum — the big box TV — AMG TV has just announced the first 3-D network, and their plans to deliver 3-D content to some 200 terrestrial station affiliates. That makes sense. I’m thinking the big box HD TV in the living room will never go away. The big screen at home will be used for big events like sports and 3D while the rest of us will continue to view our niche content on hand-held devices and computers. And don’t be surprised when your local TV stations go out of business or consolidate as a result … because viewership is shifting online. And advertisers will go where the audiences are.

Witness the recent demise of several of the most successful print newspapers in the world. I wrote about the publishing industry in transition last year. TV is also in a major transition. Watch for exciting new shows from Attention Span Media. And stay tuned!

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PODCAST: Launching Your Startup

This past Sunday at Sun’s Startup Camp before an audience of about 600 attendees, I had a chance to explore the challenges facing startup companies with a brilliant panel: Matt Dickman, Fleishman-Hillard (Matt’s blog); Christina Kerley, ckEpiphany, Inc. (CK’s blog); Jyri Engström, Google (Jyri’s blog); and Adam Metz, theMix (Adam’s blog).

Now you can view and download the sessions as we explore prelaunch and launch strategies and questions on Branding, Messaging & Positioning, Social Media, and Public Relations. You’ll hear real-time experience and sage advice from these experts in digital and social media, advertising, PR and technology. Rejoice: there’s something here for anyone managing or promoting a company, product or service.

Read Mashable’s report on the panel, CK’s post and Matt Dickman’s post.

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NASDAQ: Holy Grail

mo_051908_hiresIt’s where several technology startups would love to ultimately end up: as a public company on the NASDAQ. Coinciding with the 17th Annual Meeting of my client, New York Biotechnology Association (NYBA), my PR firm arranged for NYBA executives and members to ring the opening bell at NASDAQ. I was pleased to join Dr. Nathan Tinker, Executive Director, NYBA Board members, and executives from several NYBA-member biotech companies on NASDAQ. The event was broadcast live on CNBC, Fox News Network, by several overseas TV news networks, and on the mammoth NASDAQ screen in Times Square at 45th and Seventh Avenue. An exciting and fun morning was then followed by the very interesting NYBA conference taking place today and tomorrow. (Photo: I’m 3rd from left. Dr. Tinker is signing his name to open the session.)

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Jaiku is the Future Unfolding Today

My PR firm – Vineberg Communications – just signed We’re really excited about working with these guys.

Jaiku is where you can share your lifestream (personal thoughts, photos, blog, etc.) at one location and connect with friends doing the same. You can post “Jaikus” – thoughts about what you’re doing, what you’re feeling, where you’re going. You can comment on friends’ posts, track what they’re up to, and have a conversation. You can include personal feeds (FlickR, LastFM,, Google, etc.) in your online presence. And if you use a Nokia S60 compatible phone, Jaiku mobile lets you receive personal location and availability updates and rich, presence information on friends and contacts.

I love so many things about this as I dig into it. Life moves so quickly these days that we lose our thoughts, we fail to record feelings, and life is a blur. And many people are challenged by the idea of writing long-form blog entries.

Now you can simply jot down a thought, an idea and through these Jaikus you end up with a dairy of the moment that’s easy to do.

screenshot_jaikuThere’s a terrific interview with co-founder Jyri Engeström at 606 Tech that gets into some of the sociological factors underlying the service. Jyri is a deep thinker.

Finally, DigitalCraig has a great roundup of tools you can use to make Jaiku more functional for posting from mobile devices.

What I’d love to happen is that you all get a free account on Jaiku. Add me as a contact. And get in the habit of posting what you’re up to. The cool thing about this is that Jaiku is the future unfolding today. And with each contribution, you can not only shape this technology and evolve it, but you can put your energy into the universe of thoughts and ideas.

So what are you waiting for?

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