Magazine article Training & Development

Meeting Machina

Magazine article Training & Development

Meeting Machina

Article excerpt

Deus ex machina is a term invented by Hellenic dramatists about 400 B.C. to save the day. A creaking crane would lower a god to the stage to help the hapless hero of the play. Hence, the "god out of the machine."

Meeting producers, according to Meeting Masters Memo editor John K. Mackenzie, have long used similar devices to rescue speakers by injecting humor, smoothing over technical glitches, and beefing up presentations.

Here are 10 contraptions you might find useful:

1. The robot. Mobile robots controlled by offstage operators can be used for improvisation.

2. The puppet. Onscreen or on stage, puppets can help speakers deal with touchy subjects (just think of the Muppet training videos).

3. The audience plant. An actor sits in the audience and pops up on cue to ask a question or to heckle the speaker to add some humor.

4. The organizer. Introduced as a "world-renowned meeting coordinator," a bewildered actor wanders onstage lugging a sticker-covered suitcase and tries to figure out which meeting he's at. He proceeds to make mistakes about the products, company, and so forth. …

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