I discovered something exciting after attending a conference recently: Facts are dead! And if not dead, then passé enough to cause some serious spinning in Sergeant Joe “Just the facts ma’am” Friday’s grave. If you ask me, it’s about time.
Why, after all, should the transmission of knowledge be so severely constrained by such limiting factors as “facts,” “reality,” or, worst of all, “science.” An why would I even trust scientists to answer questions about science when all they’d do is throw facts in my face? It’d be like asking my car mechanic for an opinion on my car or only relying on a brain surgeon for my next round of brain surgery (which I recommend you do twice a year whether you need it or not. It’s done wonders for me, especially since we’ve started doing it ourselves with a kit I bought on Ebay.)
Stephen Colbert nailed this phenomenon to the corpus collosum (a must see the next time you’re in Rome) when he coined the term “truthiness” to characterize something that kind of sounds like the truth if you crane your neck far enough. Truthiness is based on a person asserting a claim because it “feels right” without any regard to evidence, intellectual examination or those pesky facts. Think about it – when given the option what would you choose: cold, unimaginative facts that lie there like a lifeless blob of mucus coagulating on a piece of burnt toast. . .or the chance to feel right? It seems like an obvious choice to me.
There are two reasons for this epic societal shift. One is the quantum unification of the cosmic logarithmic universality principle first postulated by Einstein (although Einstein never commented on it, we don’t know for certain that he didn’t comment on it, which suggests to me that he likely did comment on it). The second reason is linked to the cancellation of Arrested Development. (I’m not sure why there’s a connection, but keep in mind that in the New Age of Truthiness the cautionary Latin “post hoc ergo propter hoc” thinking fallacy no longer applies: correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but well, come on, it’s close enough that we can all agree there’s gotta be something there?)
The question for the meetings industry is this: Do you want to be left behind in the pedantic Information Age, or are you prepared to dive into the New Age of Truthiness? It is, after all, a growth industry that shows no sign of waning. And the great news is that meeting planners no longer need to rely on experts to deliver results (for a real-life example please watch the Yes Men documentaries).
The added bonus of embracing truthiness by its slippery tentacles is that you can offer meetings that appear much more brilliant than they really are, elevating the entire meeting experience to something that transcends the old style of discourse (think Carl Sagan, PBS-style snooze-fest) that may have revolved around substance (like that’s of interest to anyone) to something magical, mysterious and transcendental (like Yanni, or the popularity of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo).
Here are three simple things you can do immediately to truthenize your meetings and increase the BS Factor (Brain Surge Factor):
1. Hire non-experts. The speaking industry is wide open to anyone who, well, speaks. So forget about hiring experts who speak and instead hire speakers who sound more interesting than experts. All an expert will do is put attendees to sleep, and besides, this is a much wider pool to draw from, as it includes anyone with vocal cords and an opinion/internet connection (note: these two terms are now interchangeable).
2. Create a law and capitalize on it. Literally. Newton’s Law of Inertia, the Law of Gravity, and the inspiring motivational speaker Alvin Law are all capitalized because they represent a substantial body of work that people respect. It’s no secret: Capitals mean serious business. And laws are irrefutable. Combine the two and you’ve got one heck of a truthy sandwich to chew over.
Let’s give it a spin. Which statement sounds smarter: “People get distracted during meetings by external noises,” or “The Law of Distraction maintains that any outside wave disturbance will create a quantum energy shift in the space-time continuum”? Which leads us nicely into number three…
3. Jargonize all your meeting communication. Speakers who rely on simple language are not only thesaurusly-challenged, they are insulting the intelligence of their audiences. So rather than “dumbing down” your meeting language “smarten up” by liberally sprinkling in profusely copious quantities of jargon, not with capricious ripostes leading to perfunctory non-sequiturs, but rather in a quantum-centric manner that would ebulliently elucidate.
Now I’m no expert, but if that if that doesn’t up your BS score, I don’t know what will!
Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker and the author of six books including The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank!
“Just wanted to say “WOW!” Our group has had many speakers over the years, but none the likes of Mike Kerr.”
Richard Dansereau, President, NAPA Autopro BDG
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Veronica D. Bouvier, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Aspen Properties Ltd.
“Mike held the full attention of our senior management team for a full FOUR hour
presentation – no small accomplishment!”
Martine Rothblatt, CEO, United Therapeutics
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Lana J. Larocque, Alberta Human Resources