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Ask the Experts: Corbin Ball Shares His Advice for Planners


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For our new Q&A series, Ask the Experts, we asked our event planner clients to share their priorities, areas of interest and biggest questions. To find the answers, we're talking to the top minds in the industry, including bloggers, planners, editors, marketers, consultants and event industry influencers.

Corbin Ball is a long-standing veteran in the events industry - he's received numerous awards and always makes meetings industry lists, like Most Influential People and Top Influencer to Follow. Though he has been in the industry for quite a while, he has a way to stay fresh, relatable, and relevant with the knowledge he shares, staying ahead of event trends.

Have you seen and "wow" moments pertaining to event logistics?

Event logistical decisionsI attended EventTech Las Vegas about a 1 ½ years ago, and there were a number of interesting logistical decisions.

The entire program (the exhibition, five conference tracks and breakfast/lunch/receptions) took place in the 85,000-square foot (7900 square meter) ballroom. With a single, centralized location, everything was easy to find and the exhibitors enjoyed a constant flow of attendees.

To see more of the innovative event designs I found at the conference, take a look at this article.  

Do you have any speakers you would recommend?

There have been many!

Mark Scharenbroich is one of the most polished speakers I have ever seen. His signature “Nice Bike” presentation is funny, touching and left a lasting impression.

I have also seen Seth Godin a few times.  His “Importance of Innovation” presentation at PCMA Convening Leaders 2019 was excellent.

Additionally, I do my best to provide excellent, up-to-date presentations on events and exhibitions technology, but there are a number of other good speakers in this space including Jim Spellos and Julius Solaris.

What one piece of advice would you give event professionals?

business partners, partnership concept with two businessman handshakeThe one piece of advice for meeting professionals I would offer is based on my personal experience. That is to join and become active in a meeting industry association that most targets your interest area. We work in a relationship-based industry and one of the best ways to build these relationships is to become active in an association. Typically, 80% of the volunteer work in an association is done by 20% of the members. By volunteering, you are working with the “movers and shakers” of the association.

Have you seen any new meeting formats that help to avoid conference fatigue and encourage interaction?

I like seeing a variety of meeting configurations using varied, more comfortable seating arrangements. Also, the use of ‘genius bars’ and presentation spaces in the larger exhibitions can make them more interactive and engaging. However, I also feel that a more traditional classroom-style presentation space still has its place, especially when participant engagement tools such as mobile poling, social Q&A and second-screen tools are used.

What thoughts do you have on ways that planners can share best practices?

Fortunately, we work in a well-connected profession!  There are many places where planners can share and learn best practices:

-At meeting industry association meetingsIdea exchange concept. Ideas agreement Investing in business innovation and financial commerce.
-At the major event expos
-Through online forums (MPI’s All Member Forum, MeCo)
-Through several industry publications (Convene, Meeting Professional, Successful Meetings, Meetings Today, Smart Meetings, Meetings & Conventions)
-Numerous blogs, newsletters and webcasts

What professional associations are you a part of/what associations do you recommend and why?

I am currently a member of MPI, NSA and ICCA. All are excellent organization that I recommend for great networking and education.

In addition, PCMA and IAEE are well run and very helpful associations.

What are the best industry events for a meeting planner to attend and why?

Here are my “must attend” events:

-Winter: PCMA Convening Leaders (excellent education and networking – nice event design experimentation)

-Winter: Exhibitor Live (interesting information from the exhibitors’ perspective)

-Spring: IMEX Frankfurt (I usually attend every 2-3 years) Great international contacts.

-Summer: MPI WEC (great education and networking)

-Fall: IMEX America (largest event industry event in North America. Very large and interesting exhibit hall)

-Fall: ICCA Annual Meeting (the best international exposure to high-level decision makers)

-Fall: IBTM Barcelona (excellent international exhibition, good ed content,  good technology vendors, great location)

-Fall: IAEE Expo Expo (one of the best in terms of events and exhibitions technology)

Corbin Ball, International SpeakerAbout Corbin:

Corbin Ball, CSP, CMP, DES, MS is an international speaker, consultant and writer helping clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. After 18 years running international city-wide technology meetings, Corbin transitioned in 1997 to become a highly acclaimed speaker with the ability to make complex subjects understandable and fun.  Corbin is a 2018 inductee into the Event Industry Council's Hall of Leaders, the most prestigious honor in the meetings, conventions, exhibitions and events industry. He is the only person to have received both the MPI International Supplier of the Year and the MPI International Chapter Leader of the Year awards. Corbin has been named as one of "The 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry" five times by Successful Meetings/MeetingNews magazines.

His articles have appeared in hundreds of national and international publications and he has been quoted in the U.S. News & World Report, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Fast Company, PC Magazine and others. Corbin serves or has served on numerous hotel, corporate, convention bureau and association boards.

For more in the Ask the Experts series, check out our interviews with Trade Show Expert Rachel Wimberly, Will Curran, president of AV company Endless Events, and Dave Lutz, founder of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. Subscribe to the MeetingPlay blog and stay tuned to the blog for more event planning tips and insights.

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