Mary Foley | Engineering & Energizing Women's Careers, Communities & Events
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A Simple Strategy to Handle Workload Overload

Workload overload has become an epidemic that’s wearing us all out!  How do you handle it?

In this episode of Gotta Quick Question, workload overload is Jessica’s dilemma and I offer a practical way sort through what's on her to-do list and what to say when when she gets asked to do MORE (because you know she will!).

This isn’t the time to throw on your red cape and save the day by doing it all so that your boss is happy, you’re exhausted, and no one makes any adjustments but you.  This is the time to get smart and savvy. 

Take 4 minutes right now to see how you can bring your workload overload down to size!

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Have a quick question of your own?  Share it with me here and be on the lookout for my response in the next episode of Gotta Quick Question!

3 Easy Ways to Add Interaction to Your Event Right Now

By Mary Foley

“If you create interaction, they will come” is a mantra you want to adapt when planning a professional women's event.  After nearly two dozen interviews with event and meeting planners, it was clear that creative ways to design fun, inspiring, informative interaction was critical. 

Jeanne Elipani is the meeting planner for the world's largest conference and career fair for women in technology, the WE15 by the Society of Women Engineers, which attracts over 9,000 attendees.  When asked what are the biggest factors to their event's success, Jeann's first response was “using an interactive formula.”

“It's hard to attract younger generations” shared Tracy Orpin who plans the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) annual summit for 1300 and growing.  Adding technology such as apps, highly relevant skill-based topics, and many interactive opportunities was key.

Incorporate interaction everywhere cropped

 Here are three easy ways you can add interaction to your event right now:

1.  Introduce Your Presenters Using “2 Truths and a Lie”

Most bios are boring and people tend to mentally disengage until the presenter walks on stage.  So, the following technique creates immediate interest without adding lots of time.

You have likely played this fun game as an ice-breaker (remember those?).  Often in small groups, you shared two things that are true about you and one that's total rubbish.  It's up to others to guess which statement is the lie. 

Communication consultant and infotainment expert Brian Walter recommends a fun twist.  After a very short introduction of your keynote speaker let the audience know that you are about to share three interesting facts about this person, two of which are truth and one that's not.  Walter recommends that you offer a visual of numbered items with an image for audience members to follow along. 

Once all three statements have been revealed, instruct the audience to hold up one, two or three fingers to indicate which one they believe is the lie.  After a few moments of suspense, reveal the correct incorrect statement, otherwise known as the lie. 

2.  Hallway Hot Seat

In highly trafficked hallways, Tracy Orpin of IAAP positions speakers and presenters at tall tables and chairs for participants to stop by real quick to ask questions one on one or in small groups.  This made the presenters feel far more accessible and encouraged engagement. In fact, these short, interactive learning sessions were “so well received that some speakers barely got to their session on time!” 

3.  Small Group Speed Mentoring

Similar to the Hallway Hot Seat, but more structured and featuring seasoned executives is Small Group Speed Mentoring that Christina Vergara Andrews utilizes for the Women in Cable Telecommunictions (WICT) Womens's Leadership Conference which brings in 800 managers, directors and C-suite female professionals.

These mentoring sessions are small groups of attendees with one seasoned executive one a topic of her choice.  After 20 minutes, the group rotates to another speed mentoring session with another executive.


Power Up optin

 Want more ideas about how to make your professional women's event rock?

Grab a copy of my FREE report POWER UP! 3 Critical Trends and 10 Essential Strategies to Energize your Professional Women's Event.

Or let's brainstorm for 15 minutes - call me, or send me a quick email

Instantly Increase Your Event's Value with Structured Networking

By Mary Foley

Recently in a conversation with Grace, an event planner, about an association's annual conference, she told me “We need to do a better job with networking.  That's what people said they want more of and I'm not sure how.

It's a frustration I hear again and again from meeting planners.  You build networking time and opportunities into your agenda, but somehow it's still not enough.  Structured networking to the rescue - literally.  Here's why and how.

Put yourself in the participant's shoes.  As a smart working man or woman, one of the top reasons you spend time and money attending live professional events is to meet new people.  By meeting new people you might learn about a new project, discover a new career opportunity, or find a new client.

But more often than not, your rational brain is not in charge when it comes to networking.  Instead your reptilian brain kicks in more times than you want to admit and you hardly meet anyone because the whole process feels awkward, stupid or you’re speechless. 

Stuctured networking minimizes feel awkward stupid or speechless

A structured experience instantly takes the work out of networking making it easy, comfortable, and fun – and increases an event's value.

Here's how to add a structured networking experience to your event:

1.  Determine where a structured networking session best fits into the flow of your event

You can hold a structured networking session near the beginning, part way through, or at the end of your event.  A networking session near the beginning taps into people's curiosity to discover who is in the room and can set the stage to keep meeting new people throughout the event.  A networking session part way though the event is a great strategy when you need a group energy boost, such as shortly after a meal or in a mid-afternoon slump.  A structured networking session at the end can be a fun way to wrap things up.

2.  Decide how much time you want to allot

Meeting just one new person doesn't cut it.  In my experience, participants need to have a 5-7 minute conversation with at least 3 new people for networking to be valuable.  That's why you need at least 30 minutes for a structured networking experience.  Forty-five to sixty minutes is even better.  With additional time you can add a short networking how-to, additional conversation rounds, and a group debrief of what happened.

3.  Identify a facilitator and a process

The magic of structured networking is that people are led by facilitator, who gives them the path and the permission to meet one another, which immediately reduces the air in the awkward balloon. 

The most effective facilitators set a positive tone by reminding people of the importance and power of meeting new people, provide how-to network tips they can immediately use, create a process to interact in at least 3 conversation rounds, and offer an opportunity for individuals to publicly share something interesting or unique about a person they met and/or what the networking experience felt like. 

To identify the right person to conduct a success structured networking session, consider a professional facilitator, event speaker or seasoned trainer.  Be cautious asking someone who is not completely comfortable or familiar with facilitating as this may lead to a less than desirable result for everyone.

By asking Grace specific questions about her event and participants, I was able to design a structured networking session that fit her needs and she was excited to share with the association.  She commented, “This is the perfect complement to our unstructured networking time!” 


Power Up optin

 Want more ideas about how to make your professional women's event rock?

Grab a copy of my FREE report POWER UP! 3 Critical Trends and 10 Essential Strategies to Energize your Professional Women's Event.

Or let's brainstorm for 15 minutes - call me, or send me a quick email

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