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Photos from my keynote at Great Ideas 2019

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by Greg Roth

On Monday March 18, I unveiled my new keynote, “The Challenge Mindset” at the ASAE Great Ideas Conference, a 3-day event for innovation professionals in the association community in Colorado Springs CO.

The talk was the work of 3 months of preparation, plus close to a year of collecting stories, writing short bursts of ideas, and generally trying to refine and whittle alot of stuff into a singular message and experience. In a bit of a twist that I didn’t realize until halfway through the process, Great Ideas was also the setting for my first real talk as a professional speaker, in March 2016.

Here are a few photos and notes from the experience.

This is how I write most of my talks, similar to how TV/radio commercials are scripted (sort of). It helps we associate what I want to say with the images I’m using. It also gives me a visual of how the word length for each script compares. Over the span of 3 months, I probably did 50-70 editing sessions.
I did two early versions of the talk, one for an online conference where I could just read (and perform) the script without any video/visual feed, and one for the DC chapter of the Project Manager’s Institute. Both of those talks were 45 mins, while Great Ideas needed to be 20-25. So I tried alot of content I knew I’d be dropping.
Once I had the script to about 25 minutes, I started rehearsing it at home, but that seemed too “small” and was not getting a good performance out of me. So, I asked our church (Luther Place in Logan Circle DC) if I could swing by and rehearse in the empty sanctuary the week before the event. I did a total of 7 run throughs across 4 days.
I’d never really thought about what I wear “onstage”, since I’ve been keeping it fairly straight forward and conservative. For this, I wanted to present myself with a little bit more interesting visual identity, so I decided to loosely follow my brand colors (blue and orange). I picked up a plain orange dry-fit t-shirt to wear beneath a blue blazer )from my wedding suit), a new pair of J Crew jeans (slim fit!), and these orange Pumas ordered in haste off of Amazon.
I had a layover in Denver for a few hours and wanted to rehearse in the United Lounge, just for an hour. They wanted $60 for that privilege. They got zero. Instead, I rehearsed while sitting at a counter, eating a pork sandwich at the New Belgium Bistro.
Great Ideas was hosted at the Boardmoor, once of the most scenic hotel properties in the country. To listen to my talk, rehearse it under my breath, and generally work off anxiety I did alot of walking. This was the basic path I must have done 6-7 times.
This was outside my first-floor room at the Broadmoor. The only moment I spent out here was to take this photo, however.
Instead, I rehearsed a number of times in my room.
Speaking on Day 2, I was the third of 3 keynotes, after Vinh Giang, a magician, and Neen James, also a magician, but specifically a pitch and attention expert.
Going to get a sandwich, I ran into both Neen and Vinh, along with Diana Kander in the deli, so I got to hang out with them for probably 30-45 minutes. Besides being on stage, it was the highlight of the conference for me. The stories and perspective they have, I wish it could have lasted for hours.
We all went our separate ways and I walked back to the ballroom, to find that it was open. So, I walked in and rehearsed again, onstage, without notes or slides and pretty much delivered it start to finish with minimal bumps.
Showtime. The flipcharts were left over from Neen’s keynote, I can’t talk and write at the same time.
Big Ben and I.
I didn’t have it until a few drafts in, but I eventually found the core of my message.
Afterward, Neen, Diana, myself, and another attendee went for lunch at the Golden Bee. As I was explaining my workshop that I did at the conference (the day before), Neen scribbled down what I told her into a single image matrix, similar to Steven Covey’s 7 Habits or Simon Sinek’s Start With Why three circles. It;s the first time I’ve ever fit what Ipve been trying to build onto a single piece of paper. I felt both eternally grateful and eternally relived. This is why Neen is a magician, by the way.
During a layover in Houston, I got a notification that my talk was written up as the lead for the recap of Day 2 and was the top story on the Associations Now magazine homepage.
Greg Roth
About Greg Roth
Founder, The Idea Enthusiast. Speaker, Trainer, Facilitator, and writer about all things creative consulting. DC-based consultant to individuals who want to be more creative, teams who want to collaborate without fear, and anyone who wants to deliver the best pitches and presentations.

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Photos from my keynote at Great Ideas 2019