Category Archives: Industry Events

Audience is a proud sponsor of FRESH conference 2018

Initiate Interaction – Join us at the FRESH conference 2018!

At Audience, we are always keen to explore new formats for meetings and technologies, as well as pushing new and creative approaches to communication. This year we have chosen to sponsor a unique Multi-Hub experience – the FRESH conference.

The Swiss hub will be in Basel and is sponsored and facilitated by Audience and organised by Meeting Design Institute. This year’s conference, on 27th-28th February, also has hub locations in Denmark, the U.K., and South Africa. This will be a unique opportunity for you try Multi-Hub meetings in a ‘safe environment’, allowing you to explore and test all the benefits of this exciting technology.

FRESH is a great platform for innovation, debate, interaction, experimentation and co-creation around meeting design and formats, techniques, tools and technology. Being part of this conference gives you an opportunity to make meetings more productive and effective.

The theme for FRESH 2018 is “Initiate Interaction,” and Audience’s Jeff Bateman will be facilitating a couple of so-called “Pitbull” sessions, helping attendees sink their teeth into the topics of the day, driving the discussion and debate:

  • Day One: 12.00-13.00 ­– The Fun of Rituals in Groups, and
  • Day Two: 11.10-12.00 – Interaction19, Should Meeting Designers Attend?

As part of the programme, you will also have the opportunity to hear more about our approach to communication and experiment with some of our tools:

  • Day One: 2-3pm Topic: The 3Ds Theory
    • Audience CEO, Tim Ferguson, will lead a session using a tested technique to create initiate and sustain high value interaction. The 3Ds stand for Dialogue, Discuss and Debate.
  • Day Two: 9.40-10.40am ‘Storytelling’– Speaking the language of your audience
    • Tim will introduce the Story Finder model, which focuses on audience-centric communication. Participants will immediately apply what they learn, through integrating storytelling techniques into their own projects.

And finally, what we think for some of you could be a highlight, we will be connecting with the Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit to facilitate an hour-long panel session with the meeting professionals in Philadelphia.

If you are interested in attending FRESH 2018, please click on the link below.

We are happy to extend 20% discount for everyone using this code: AUDIENCEisFRESH20Please feel free to forward the info to any colleagues who also may be interested in attending.

Thanks again for your support, and we look forward to seeing you at FRESH!

– Tim, Jeff, and the Audience team


Audience @ IMEX 2017


Audience Account Director Jeff Bateman represented Audience at IMEX 2017 (known as “The worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings, and events”) in Frankfurt, Germany. This four-day immersion into the world of meetings and events includes a three-day trade show and the chance to keep current with the latest trends. This is the event for people in the meeting and events industry, and it never disappoints.


This year offered some new touches, including an education day to kick off the conference—called “EduMonday”—and the intention to “live and breathe its 2017 Talking Point – Purposeful Meetings.” Over 9,000 buyers and visitors took part in this event, taking in education, technology, and presentations.

The focus on the purpose of meetings and events—the content and presentation—rather than the destination was a welcome change of pace. In the past, our industry has wowed audiences with spectacular destinations and top-notch hotels—but hasn’t always concerned itself with the details of what happens there.

Also a refreshing part of the “purposeful” focus was two “Be Well” lounges and the creation of “white space” areas to offer a chilled-out, tech-free vibe. Given the bustling marketplace, a genuine alternative and emphasis on self-care was appreciated.

The Thing About Presentations

There is no one thing, of course, but IMEX’s talking point did a fantastic job of setting up Jeff’s “Presentation Strategies” session. Intended to be a “campfire” session of 5-10 attendees, the appetite for content brought in 35 people, all keen to gain insight into how presentations can engage audiences and offer purpose.

Jeff’s session covered the fundamentals of presentation strategies (including the Audience Triangle), the form and function of presentations, and a framework for focus. The group also covered tips on body language—an imperative for anyone who gives presentations.

It was a happy accident to align so closely with IMEX’s focus on Purposeful Meetings, particularly as travel budgets change, travel security is harder to navigate, and the carbon footprint is more challenging to justify. Meetings and events are at an exciting moment of change right now.

Hologram Technologies

So what do organizers do, given the changing needs and capacities for meeting travel? In some cases, we know, meetings are going digital, with live streams and video launches across the globe. Another option? Holograms.

Imagine being able to present—or co-present—from your local office to a global audience: they can see you and hear you, and you can see and hear them. The interactive possiblities are fantastic, and the freedom to engage audiences without having to accommodate travel time and cost is going to have a huge impact on our industry. While the cost of this technology might initially seem prohibitive, it could replace (perhaps even reduce) the usual travel costs for attendees and presenters.

For a taste of what that might look like, check this out. We can’t wait to explore the possibilities.

From the Inspiration Hub: An Idea Shower

IMEX’s Inspiration Hub offered attendees the chance to meet in small groups with experts and presenters, to talk, and to play. In one such setting, the “Idea Shower,” we talked through how the Sharing Economy impacts our industry.

The Sharing Economy has become a pretty big part of how we travel (Uber), accommodate (airbnb), and trade items (Canada’s Bunz) or homes (lovehomeswap). But it seems anathema to business and industry, where competition has been the dominant ideology. As with other parts of our industry, this too seems to be changing.

Rather than competing for clients, experts are now talking about collaborating for mutual benefit, forming new partnerships where access trumps ownership. We’re keen to explore how these new partnerships will enhance and elevate audience experiences.

IMEX 2017 in Frankfurt was a fantastic experience, a chance to meet up with old connections and make new acquaintances. Meetings with purpose, the time and space to be well (and un-deviced), encountering new technologies and ideas—we were thrilled to be part of this experience.

RGD, DesignThinkers 2016 – confessions, Part Two


The Thing About Great Ideas

While much of RGD’s DesignThinkers 2016 conference necessarily focused on the visual, there were also integral moments on communication and conceptualization. That’s where Mark Higgins stepped in, to moderate a panel on one of our particular areas of interest: “Where Do Great Ideas Come From?” Panelists Erik Kessels, Leland Maschmeyer, Fredrik Öst, and Erik Kockum drew a full crowd, and the 45-minute session offered a fitting combination of humour and serious thought, with a solid dash of imperfection and spectacle thrown in.*

Higgins opened the discussion with the necessary question, “What is a great idea?” The answers were intriguing in their range and focus, because that question and their follow-ups drew back the performative curtain and gave us real insight into how some of the most successful creative minds work.

The Gardens


Erik Kessels: Dutch artist, designer and curator with a great interest in photography. Erik co-founded Amsterdam-based communications agency KesslesKramer in 1996, where he works for national and international clients.


For Kessels, working towards a great idea is the process of moving from back garden to front garden: the back garden is a freer, more private space. You can do anything back there, protected from the (critical) eyes of the world; you can make a mess, you can tear things down, you can be more yourself, however that looks. But it’s not until you feel ready to take an idea from the back garden through the house to the front garden, Kessel says, that you’ve come close to something like great. That creative free space and its correlated vetting process (can I take this into the house? what will people think if it’s on my front door? can it survive in the front garden?) ensures that you’re not simply enthralled by the production of your brain, even if you need to give it free rein in order to arrive at what works.

The Emotions

snask_roFredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Founder and Creative Director at Snask, Fredrik Öst’s love for design began with a job he took on creating posters and cover art for a local record label. Erik Kockum is Partner and Creative Director at Snask, who found his passion for creativity through music. The Snask team see the “old conservative world” as their biggest enemy.


Öst and Kockum approached the question from a more affective angle. For them, great ideas are intrinsically emotional: they make you feel something (love, hate, fear, anger—they genuinely don’t seem to care, so long as it gets past polite indifference). Your own responses can be an initial test: is it uncomfortable, is it scary, does it make you insecure. You have to, says Öst, be afraid of your own idea—but be confident in your fear. Because that gut-twisting, shivering emotional response is the sign that you’re close to what you’re looking for.

The Logistics

leland_roLeland Maschmeyer: Chief Creative Officer of Chobani. Prior to joining Chobani in 2016, he was the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Collins, a brand and design consultancy with offices in New York and San Francisco. 



Maschmeyer offered his vetting process for the great idea: you don’t want to have seen it before, it should connect to something, and it should always feel new. His stories about conceiving, modifying, and perfecting ideas also noted that there is no “perfect” moment for the great idea, no practice or skill you can acquire in order to produce more of them. As with most creative endeavours, a solid amount of time is spent working on/with the “good enough” ideas—because you can trust that when its time arrives, the great idea will happen. We just have to cede control over it.

And Then There’s the Bad Ideas

Perhaps one of the most valuable threads in the panel conversation, though, was about bad ideas: what you do with them, how you manage them, why they might actually be intrinsic to the entire creative process. Öst and Kockum spoke at different points about how necessary it is to be able to let bad ideas go. Öst’s practice is to keep a notebook and pen beside him at night, so that when he wakes up with that flash of genius!, he can capture the idea rather than lose it to sleep. Of course, the next morning, the flash of genius! is not at all genius, but a kind of concept clearing house, and while Öst wipes away tears at not yet becoming a millionaire, the process is worthwhile because it clears out space for the good ideas.

There’s real trust in that process: hear/see the bad idea, give it time and space. Commit it to paper (or the back garden, Kessel would say), and know that even this frustrating, perhaps even agonizing part is necessary for creativity. This is why Öst advocates for the “yes, and” (an intrinsic part of the improv sketch), so that even if the idea looks and sounds as horrible as it likely is, giving it some airtime might just open up into something else. Something better. Something maybe even close to great. (Higgins offered an interesting counterpart to improv’s “yes, and” by suggesting that in the communications world, “no, but” might be as—if not more—fruitful.)

As much as the Audience team was keen to hear about the latest design trends and thinking, attending DT 2016 reminded us of the necessity to simply be in creative spaces. Not working. Just experiencing.

img_0720*Throughout the panel, Barney (the purple dinosaur, not the suave playboy of HIMYM fame) wandered throughout the room. It sometimes stood facing into a corner. Sometimes walked up and down the aisles. It walked up to the stage and stroked a presenter’s hair.

RGD, DesignThinkers 2016 – confessions, Part One


Audience did a new thing last week: we sponsored and attended the RGD (Registered Graphic Designers) DesignThinkers conference. This 17th incarnation of a two-day immersive dive into the world(s) of design was everything we could have hoped: mind-expanding talks, difficult questions and interesting responses, rock-star antics. While there were some “interesting” moments and a few challenges (no hot drinks in one of the session venues? really? but … creatives!), overall our team left inspired and still talking through some of the most compelling ideas and examples of contemporary design.

The Highlight Reel

It’s impossible to give any kind of concise summation of the experience (although our writers are certainly itching to try), but we wanted to note some of the highlights:

  • Paola Antonelli’s “Are We There Yet? A Road Trip Through Utopia” asked us to look for the positive in design via entanglement and the elemental, complexity and contradiction, ambivalence and ambiguity. From Krebs Cycle of Creativity through to Silk Pavillion and Armpit Cheese (yes, they really did that), Antonelli opened up spaces of thinking and curiousity. This is where fluidity and hybridity are not only the focus of positive design; they are also the key to creating positive design.
  • Emily Lessard’s “Branding & Authenticity: Building Visual Stories” offered three ways to negotiate a project that required refreshing/rethinking over innovation. Lessard drew on her portfolio to highlight Restoration (rebranding aperture magazine; the word mark and logo were under her direction), Preservation (digitizing some of aperture’s most famous photo books), and Overhaul (an extensive re-branding of NYC tourism).
  • Kenya Hara’s “Visualize & Awaken” was like a conceptualist poetic project that asked us, as all good conceptualist poetic projects do, to let go of the idea that we, like, know “Ex-formation” is the antithesis to “information” in an age where we all believe we know more than we actually do. As a design experiment for his students, “Ex-formation” involved re-encountering ideas (Plant, Woman, Camouflage, Nakedness, etc.) as if we didn’t actually know anything about them. It turns out, if you put a tiny pair of underpants on literally any object, it looks human; our understanding of nudity is actualized by clothing.
  • Ashleigh Axios’ “#ThanksObama” gave us a glimpse into the digital creative team at the White House, and how they’ve used digital communications to engage citizens in entirely new ways. Axios calls the goal of her work “real engagement”: focusing on people, and offering purpose. Axios also talked through how her team seeks out both acquired and inherited diversity (what you’re born with/as; what you learn and develop), and the incredible outcomes such a team is able to accomplish. This seems particularly necessary in the design world, where the majority of speakers were still the old status quo.
  • Jake Barton’s “The Future of Virtual is Physical,” like Axios, was invested in the digital for its capacity to bring people and purpose together. The first half of Barton’s presentation walked us through the process of designing and building NYC’s 9/11 Memorial Museum. Equally profound and fascinating, Barton’s design overturns the idea of the museum as a curation of the past by historical experts—and makes the museum an emblem of American democracy: by the people, of the people, for the people. What might be trite in other contexts is rendered intimate and immediate here, as was Barton’s work on the ARoS art museum.
  • The “Working with an In-House Brand” Panel, with Emily Lessard, Bob Calvano, Albert Shum, and Adam Shutsa focused on the practicalities of branding: how to deal with brand guideline documents, ways to ensure consistency across many brands and products (communication!!), working out a brand’s “origin story,” how to deal with internal clients who aren’t designers

Resonances across and between sessions:

  • Authenticity: it’s everyone’s buzz word, but a few speakers did the work of defining it in particular contexts—a moment of connection, it taps into the unexpected and positions itself in relation to something else.
  • Personalization: everyone (Adobe’s Loni Spark, Dan Makoski, Jake Barton, and Connie Birdsall, among others) was talking about the idea of allowing people to personalize their different experiences with brands. You see this approach in consumer-facing software/apps a fair bit, with the creator/maker revolution: it positions everyone as a creator, which in turn deepens their interactions and engagement. Spark contextualized this as the decentralization of branding: it’s no longer a one-way broadcast.
  • Design Doing: Pushing past simply thinking about design and moving into processes that develop deeply engaging experiences. This approach seems to focus more on the moment of communication/action, than on the aesthetics or thinking that went into a brand, design, product.


Later this week, we’ll share Audience’s exploration of “Where Do Great Ideas Come From?” with Mark Higgins (VP Creative) and panelists Erik Kessels, Leland Maschmeyer, Fredrik Öst, and Erik Kockum.

The Presentation Triangle at IBTM World 2015

Our colleague, Jeff Bateman, is excited to announce that he’ll be attending IBTM World 2015 as a speaker on The Presentation Triangle: Communicating More Effectively.  He’ll be sharing his experiences on Twitter @JeffAudience and @AudienceFirst, so be sure to look out for that!

IBTM World 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Innovation Zone Session Topic: The Presentation Triangle: Communicating More Effectively
Date: Wednesday, November 19, 2015
Time: 10:30 to 10:50 a.m.

We also have Jeff’s account of his and Tim’s experience leading rehearsal workshops at the FRESH Conference this past summer.  Please check it out!  Reflections on a FRESH Experience

Reflections on a FRESH Experience


FRESH is a fun and innovative annual conference for those in the meeting, conference, and event planning industry. This year’s event was held in June in Barcelona, and the theme was art and inspiration. For more information on the FRESH conference, check out their site at

Audience’s participation at FRESH 2015 stemmed from an invitation our account director, Jeff Bateman, received while at IMEX 2015 from Maarten Vanneste, author of the “Meeting Architecture” manifesto. To learn more about Maarten and his manifesto, click on the link here.

Our CEO, Tim Ferguson, and I arrived on Saturday and spent the evening with the final preparations of a Tim’s keynote presentation, “How to Make Your Presenters Shine.” If you’d like to watch the video clips from his presentation, use the following links and the password FRESH

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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Think you know your audience?

You can talk to audiences. You can give them information. You can even entertain them. But when it really matters, you need to engage them.

Check out this interview from the IMEX conference where one of our Account Director,
Jeff Bateman, shares tips on how to connect the objectives of an organization, presenters and stakeholders with the audience.

Fresh Conference 2015

Meet Audience at FRESH15!

We’re excited to announce that Audience Communication and Events will be at the Fresh Conference in Barcelona, June 21-23!

Tim Ferguson, our CEO/President, will be presenting “Three Ways to Make Your Presenters Shine” during the Design, Art, and Presentation Session on June 22nd. Tim is also running public rehearsal clinics with Jeff on both June 21st and 22nd for attendees .

We’re excited to meet fellow colleagues in the events industry and share our audience-first approach to presentation style and content.

You can also follow us on Twitter at @AudienceFirst where we’ll be tweeting during the conference. We have much to share about our business and the events industry so please stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!

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