Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ben Cameron's Keynote

For those of you church goers out there you know what I mean when I refer to the Zone. It's when you've settled into your pew and the service and as the officiant launches into a homily (in my case) either my eyelids close or I enter the Zone whereby I mentally check out for a few minutes. It's not that all speeches or stories are boring. It's that too often I've heard the same stuff regurgitated. By force of habit I drift to the Zone. Here and there though are incredible inspired charismatic people that not only speak intelligently with so much emotion one can't help but get pulled into the excitement, but they also have something important to say.

Such was the case a few weeks ago. I attended the PA Presenters Conference in Bethlehem. I've sat through tons of "all conference seminars" and "keynote speaker luncheons" and so many have been dry and/or lacking in any substantial information. Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was our speaker and man, not only did this guy give a dynamite energetic presentation but he also did what he called all of us in the arts to do -- engage our audiences. I couldn't even be bothered with taking frantic notes. I hung on his every word (literally, I was draped over the back of my chair). I was that emotionally involved.

So many of his points still swim through my head but my favorite analogy was his quoting Wayne Gretzky: "I skate where the puck will be." Look ahead. Anticipate. Engage. I'll dissect the speech in bits over the coming weeks with new posts, but for now, do yourself a service and spend 15 minutes over a cup of 'jo and read his moving speech here. You'll be glad you did.

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