The Power of Words: How to engage your audience when presenting at a Conference

Have you heard people say, good speakers are born, not made? Well, I am here to tell you that it is a myth. No one is born a good speaker – you develop certain skill sets that make you a good speaker and you further hone those skills with experience. You were not born with a stellar command of your language, you developed it over time. Similarly, you become an inspiring speaker over a period. Good public speaking skills will only boost your confidence, make you more eloquent and ultimately help you advance in your career.

Can you remember an instance when you tried to wriggle yourself out of a situation, because you were nominated to present on behalf of your team and you preferred to be a spectator and let some other team member enjoy the limelight, only because you have stage fright? To you, I say, anyone can become a public speaker. There is no ONE essential requirement to be an exceptional speaker. It is a blend of many skill sets – inherent and acquired.

Content is king

You need to know everything about your content, and when I say everything, I mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are fumbling for answers because you didn’t think your audience would ask questions about it. A humble request, please don’t be one of those who have someone else create their presentation for them and then deliver it in a robotic manner, because that will not get you anywhere. When you are on stage, you need to develop a rapport with your audience; they should be clued in to your presentation and not lose interest midway.

Remember to keep your audience engaged. Use analogies and metaphors. Deliver insightful content in a crisp manner – a combination of textual and visual content is a more persuasive method than wholly verbal presentations. The power of visual content in a presentation is undeniable. I have seen speakers present to an audience of 300 or more in a room and not lose their audience interest even once. This brings me to the second most important requirement, voice modulation.

It is not what you say, but how you say it

The importance of pitch and tone while communicating is crucial. Using an aggressive tone can give an altogether different impression. Have you ever been in a situation when you were in a discussion with friends/ colleagues and you have miffed them with your point of view. More often than not, people are receptive to different ideas and perceptions, but it is the tone of voice that makes the difference. Use your voice to create an impact. Finding the right tone, volume and tempo are crucial factors in delivering a powerful speech/ presentation. A monotone pitch would indicate that you are quite unenthusiastic. Have a clear voice. Find the right timing to pause between sentences and most importantly modulate your tone depending on the text you are presenting. Once you have mastered this as well, the next crucial factor that you need to bear in mind is non-verbal communication.

Passion changes everything

All those public speakers who are popular and considered the best are the ones who engage with their audiences. To be able to connect with your audiences isn’t as difficult as you think it to be. The key is to be passionate about your topic. Speakers are also known to use hand gestures in enhancing presentations – the general rule is that your confidence is directly proportional to the way your ‘hands talk’ as you present. Excitement and passion are infectious. Your confidence and positive energy will also reflect in your body language; walk across the stage and don’t be limited to standing in one spot. Let your audience feel the vibe.

If you want to enter the niche category of becoming a powerful orator and an inspiring speaker, there is one thing you need to do. Practice. Practice. Practice. You can never be over prepared. Invest in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

Remember, good speakers are made and not born! All the great speakers were bad speakers at first. Les Brown once said, ‘You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great’, so what are you waiting for – get going! ­

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

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Key factors to consider when choosing to attend a conference

As I start writing, am thinking of the adage that holds true, ‘To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done.’ With this, let me wish you success and the experience to enjoy new things this year. I am quite positive that with a comprehensive list of things that you want to accomplish, you are ready to take on the year. While we resolve to do different things, we need the resolve to do things differently. I will let that statement sink in for a moment.

Well then, with that thought let me continue. Did you know that one of the most popular resolutions made in 2017 (according to survey by CareerBuilder) include learning something new by attending more seminars or courses etc? This brings me to the crux of this conversation on how do you decide which is the right conference/ summit/ seminar to attend. What is that ONE key deciding factor, you may ask? Let me tell you, there isn’t one, it is a mix of a few critical points that you need to bear in mind.

You should never go to a meeting or make a telephone call without a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve – Steve Jobs

With any task, you want to accomplish in life – be it personal or professional, it is important for you to set clear goals. If you don’t list out your objective of attending a conference, your presence at the event will be futile. MICE industry is on a high growth trajectory1 with an overwhelming number of conferences varying in nature organized month after month. It is solely your discretion which one you choose to attend and which one to give a miss. It’s suffice to say ask as many as possible questions to the organizers. Mostly beginners tend to hold back asking any question to avoid looking foolish. To you I say, no question is a silly question and be sure to clear any doubts that you may have. You will be surprised that people are happy to answer your questions to help you make a decision.

You need to decide on what exactly you want to gain by attending a conference – enhancing your brand awareness, getting exposure to new trends and skills or connecting with industry peers? Once this is done, the next step is to research and choose amongst the many conferences being held and narrow down your choices to determine the right fit for you.

The second most important point for you to remember is the budget. While having said that, please remember that expense doesn’t always equal quality. This brings me to my next point, that is location. It is a smart decision to attend events based locally. If you are willing to travel intercity to attend the summit, you would need to factor in the travel and accommodation costs, which will increase the budget by a significant degree.

Now that you have shortlisted few summits/ events to attend, you must carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine the quality of the event – has it been running for many years now? How well-established is it? Events that are renowned have a certain credibility attached to their name. That is not to say, the inaugural events can be skipped. Find out information on the organizers, go through past testimonials or ask past attendees for feedback. To ascertain what the event has to offer and if it is worth your money and time, request for a post-show report of the previous edition of the event. You will be well-equipped with all the information – the various topics covered under the conference agenda and quality of the speakers, whether the speakers are regionally renowned or internationally based, their background, expertise and if this matches with your line of work. Aside from this, it is crucial to know the attendee profiles visiting to find out whether the target audience is relevant for you to expand your business connections and increase your brand visibility.

Always keep in mind your objective while you evaluate an event that is of interest to you. At the end of it all, most importantly you should be able prove to your management that your connections made and skills you learnt has outweighed the expenditure incurred.

To new beginnings.

1 Conferences and trade shows are predicted to be the largest events in nearly every region, with per event attendee increase ranging from 209 in Asia to 455 in North America (Source – 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast)

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

Why attending Conferences could be beneficial for you and your business?

If I were to ask, what is the fastest way to build connections, I am confident of getting the reply – Facebook or LinkedIn even. While it certainly may be an easy way to get connections, it certainly is not a foolproof way of developing a connection. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of these new age communication tools that have simplified business and help in getting to touch with the right person. You may call me old school, but I feel nothing can replace a one-on-one interaction, when you exchange business cards and information that goes beyond one meeting – it is irreplaceable. Such opportunities of course do not present themselves every other day. Nonetheless, when it does, we should be prepared to make the most of the opportunity. While a thought about attending a conference may seem mundane, the experience sure isn’t. If you haven’t participated in a conference yet, you are missing out on the great new ways to learn, interact with your industry peers, build contacts amongst your network and hone your skill.

Your network creates your networth

How often have you heard someone tell you, it is all about networking?! Networking is truly the name of the game. Enough cannot be said about the importance of networking, be it for our personal gain or in the business world. To many, the idea of networking is restricted to connecting with friends over the many social media platforms available at our disposable. Simply put, there is so much more than the digital platforms. Let us get away from the digital mediums, connect on a personal level and build contacts that may prove to be of immense help in the future.

Conferences present just the opportunity. Start a conversation. Connect. Meet new people. Be part of an engaging discussion. Build connections that go a long way. It is unanimously agreed upon that the most obvious and biggest benefit of attending conferences is networking and building connections with industry peers.

Every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow

When you network with your peers there is an incredible amount of information to be shared and learnt as well. Depending on the industry you are working in, choose to attend a conference that provides an eclectic mix of speakers presenting on topics that are relevant to you. By participating in a conference, you expand your knowledge base, gain fresh perspective on your industry trends and insightful details from global and regional experts. Furthermore, depending on the type of conference you are attending, you get to experience a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge technological solutions changing the face of the industry.

Knowledge has no value unless you use and share it

While you take time away from your business or career to participate in a conference that presents invaluable learning and growth opportunities, make sure to share your experiences with others too. The true value of a conference comes from sharing your experiences with your colleagues who didn’t attend. Given that everyone is keen to learn and know what they missed out on, you can highlight the key takeaways from the sessions you attended and interactions you had with influencers and other peers with a larger audience by way of a blog.

At the end of it all, when you get back to office, you are brimming with new ideas and approaches. You are better equipped to implement all that you learnt in your business or career. At the risk of repeating myself, I’d like to reiterate that there is no substitute for being part of a conference that offers myriad opportunities of growth. Break out of your comfort zone and enjoy the unique convergence of learning, networking and knowledge-sharing that a conference offers.

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

Enhancing building efficiency for a greener UAE

By Saeed Al Abbar

With the UAE’s skyline dominated by skyscrapers, and Dubai alone being home to over 3,000 high-rise buildings,1  it is important that all stakeholders within the construction industry leverage the opportunities available for installing renewable energy systems in high-rises.

The roofs of high-rise buildings are often occupied with installations such as cooling towers, chillers and other equipment, which can limit the space available for installing renewable energy systems.

However, with an increasing number of high-rises in the region, it is important that initiatives supporting sustainable built environments are fully considered and implemented.

Emirates Green Building Council, an independent forum promoting sustainability, recently hosted a workshop to discuss the challenges and potential solutions in installing renewable energy technologies in high-rises.

Experts identified awareness, site issues, codes and financial schemes as key points to be addressed to promote the use of renewable energy systems. They observed that these systems must also be outcome-based to ensure reduction in energy consumption.

To bring a tangible shift, a fundamental transformation of the construction sector is needed by streamlining fragmented responsibilities of different stakeholders and developing business models that attract third-party financing.

Stakeholders must also look at implementing highly advanced yet cost-effective façade concepts, based on multifunctional components and/or new combinations of existing building envelope technologies.

An integrated design and close collaboration among a multidisciplinary team will further drive the implementation of renewable energy systems in high-rises.

With the focus on high-rise buildings continuing to grow, in direct response to meet the urban growth requirements, credible measures by developers to incorporate green building practices will contribute to the green vision of the nation and help secure the environment for our future generations.

Saeed Al Abbar is the Chairman of Emirates Green Building Council.

1 State of energy report

2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit 2015 Kicks Off Tomorrow in Dubai

Keynote speech in progress at Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2014

Keynote speech in progress at Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2014

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 1, 2015: The stage is set for the 2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit 2015. Held under the patronage of Dubai Municipality and organized by global conference producers, Expotrade, the two-day summit will bring together over 350 attendees, including representatives of government organizations, sustainability experts and smart city solution providers.

Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City will inaugurate the summit and deliver the opening speech in the presence of esteemed dignitaries such as Eng. Abdulla Rafia, Assistant Director General – Engineering & Planning Sector, Head of The Sustainability Committee, Dubai Municipality and ambassadors of the Embassies of Montenegro, Sweden, Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Angola and Consul General of the Consulate General of Canada. It will be followed by a welcome address from Eng. Abdulla Rafia, Assistant Director General – Engineering & Planning Sector, Head of The Sustainability Committee, Dubai Municipality.

Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “With an elite lineup of keynote speakers and panelists, our summit is the ideal platform to discuss technological innovations that deliver smart city solutions seamlessly and also hold dialogues on the region’s ambitions and progress to gain a smart city status.”

With a series of forward-looking topics, the summit agenda will feature engaging keynote sessions, case study presentations and interactive panel discussions. Across two days, the summit will provide an opportunity to gain insights from industry thought leaders and experts on the best practices, challenges and opportunities emerging in the smart city domain. The summit agenda will broadly cover topics under the purview of Big Data, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, Connected Home, Cyber security and Connected Lighting.

Featuring presentations by 30 regional and internationally acclaimed speakers including, Abdulla Al Madani, CEO – Corporate Technical Support Services Sector, RTA; Stephen Turner, Head of Future Cities, Manchester City Council; Dr. Mario Rossi, Landscape Architecture Manager, The Office of H.H. The Crown Prince of Dubai; Faisal Rashid, Director, Demand Side Management, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, to name a few, the summit will focus on the trends and technologies that will drive the growth of sustainable smart cities. Experts Yousuf Mohammed Al Shaiba, Director of Smart Services Development Department, Ajman Municipality & Planning Department and Furqan Ahmed Hashmi, IT Operations Leader, Emirates Investment Authority will participate in a panel discussion on Cyber Security, Safe and Secure Connected cities.

Offering unrivalled networking opportunities, possibility of dialogue and knowledge sharing with the industry stalwarts, the summit will showcase cutting-edge and emerging technologies that will shape the future of smart cities in the region. The summit has the support of more than 20 sponsors, including Samsung Business, Dark Matter, GE Lighting, Philips, Microsoft, Huawei, Rolta, Fusionex, Hive Technology and Introsys to name a few.

For more event details, please log on to http://smartcitiesdubai.com

Smart Data Summit 2016 Edition Dates Announced

Smart Data Summit 2016 edition dates announced

Smart Data Summit 2016 edition dates announced

  • The Summit will be held on 23-24 May 2016 at Sofitel The Palm Resort & Spa, Dubai
  • The underlying theme of the summit is future of data management and the role of smart data and analytics in driving revenue growth

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 27, 2015: Global conference producers, Expotrade today announced the 3rd Annual Smart Data Summit will be taking place on 23-24 May 2016 at Sofitel, The Palm Resort & Spa, Dubai. The summit is a leadership-level event, focused on exploring forward-thinking opportunities in the big data domain that will benefit over 300 participants from across the GCC.

The concept of Big Data and Analytics has evolved considerably with many companies effectively adopting it within their business practices. Businesses across sectors use the power of big data and analytics to assimilate information in order to imbibe and develop new solutions and optimize processes. The two day summit talks about how businesses can make profitable decisions using big data and analytics and increase their customer base.

Announcing the dates of the summit, Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “We are thrilled to confirm the dates of the 2016 edition of our Smart Data Summit that will convene sector specialists and heads of leading regional and international companies across industries under one roof, deliberating on the challenges and opportunities arising from the field of Big Data and Analytics. According to a recent industry report, it is perceived that there is an increased interest from companies on the adoption of big data, analytics, mobility and cloud.”

The two-day conference agenda will encompass engaging and forward-looking topics such as making informed decisions to innovate and design products with big data; big data and analytics in telcos; smart data modernizing the utilities industry; BFSI sector’s gain from smart data and analytics to build loyal customer base and using data and intelligence for powering interoperability in smart cities. The summit offers two days of intensive learning experience filled with research-driven keynote sessions, case study presentations and panel discussions that will provide multiple perspectives on topics pertaining to Big Data and Analytics.

As in the previous editions of the summit, the attendees will include CIO’s and Heads of IT, Chief Technology Officers, CFO’s and Finance Directors, Heads of Data Analytics, Modeling and Mining, Heads of Marketing, System and Business Analysts, Data Architects and Scientists, Customer & Business Intelligence Specialists and Technology Specialists.

Last year’s edition of the summit saw a robust panel of speakers and experts from internationally renowned organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, du, IBM, Wipro, HP, Emirates NBD, and Flipkart, amongst many others take the stage to share insights on the theme of discovering the power of big data, influencing product decisions with analytics, data governance and security and using technology to improve customer experience.

The 2015 edition of the summit was a huge success, receiving adulation from attendees and speakers alike. Anupam Dikhit, Industry Manager, Twitter, said, “In terms of the way the event has been designed, the kind of speakers that presented, the entire structure and format – I think it’s fantastic. Because you have taken an issue or space that is up coming and a region that is up and coming – we have seen a lot of traction happen in the Middle East over the last few years, so it’s really a sunrise sector here – and you have got the best of thought-leaders from across the world. That’s not a mean feat.”

Dr. Dirk Jungnickel, Senior Vice President – Business Analytics, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), said, “It has been a very pleasant and interesting event. I had some very good conversations during the breaks and also the presentations so far have been first-class. It’s a good mix of vendors and consumers of big data technologies or people who are applying the technologies.”

More information on the 3rd Annual Smart Data Summit is available now at http://www.smartdatadubai.com. Follow the Summit on social media with the hashtag #SDATAS2016.

5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit concludes successfully

Keynote session in progress at the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2015

Keynote session in progress at the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2015

Dubai, September 17, 2015: The two-day Middle East Banking Innovation Summit featuring 20+ presentations, over 30 speakers and more than 450 attendees came to a successful closure on Tuesday. The 5th edition of this summit reiterated its position as the leading platform in the Middle East region for the bankers to engage in idea sharing on trends and technological innovations driving the industry. The summit commenced with premium sponsors Visa, Schneider Electric and IBM welcoming attendees to see the latest developments, develop new business opportunities and discuss pressing industry issues and challenges.

In tandem with the growing trend, Nilanjan Ray of NBAD’s opening address highlighted the growing need for banks and financial institutions to innovate and shared insights on the emerging payments landscape. Taking the discussion further on payments was Paul McCrea of Visa, who took the audience through the company’s strategy in developing innovative products and services. Placing a strong emphasis on innovation, he emphasized on how the payments industry has witnessed an unprecedented change with the introduction of new form factors.

Marcello Baricordi, General Manager UAE and Global Accounts Lead, Visa MENA, added, “Visa envisions a future where connected devices define the way people shop and pay, and that is what we have attempted to create with the connected car proof-of-concept, which was demonstrated at the Summit. In fact, we see a future where consumers can seamlessly make many of their everyday purchases from a ‘connected car’, such as petrol, parking, transit tolls, and drive-through purchases.”

Jonathan Duncan from Schneider Electric spoke on the data center infrastructure management and the benefits banks stand to gain from a connected infrastructure. On the other hand, IBM’s Naveed Minhas highlighted the importance of a digital studio and why banks need to leverage and deliver digital transformation.

The Day 1 panel discussion on Smart Payments Strategy was led by Amru Kotb of Cryptomathic and included inputs from industry experts Noor Bank’s Ehsaan Ahmed, Dubai Islamic Bank’s Dr. Haroun Dharsey and Gary Collins of Westpac Pacific.

Ziad Youssef, Vice President of ITB, Gulf Countries, Schneider Electric said: “In this digitally-driven age, financial institutions are expected to securely storage critical, sensitive data, be available round the clock, and efficiently leverage IT to deliver quality customer service at the touch of a button. Effective management of complex IT systems is thus a crucial component to the overall functioning of such institutions. To address these needs, Schneider Electric was happy to present our suite of datacenter solutions to the regional banking industry. The Middle East Banking Innovation Summit (MEBIS) 2015 was an excellent platform to highlight our value-add, and share hardware and software innovations which can develop enterprise in a strategic way.”

Westpac Pacific’s Gary Collins during his session elaborated on the need to innovate and design mass market product and payments in developing markets. Kartik Taneja of Standard Chartered Bank, explained the changing landscape and trends in the payments industry, supported with statistics and two noteworthy case studies on mobile wallets. Sessions on day 1 included speakers from Sestek, Collinson Group, Appello, Intellect Design Arena, CSC, Backbase and Entera as well.

Pedro Cardoso, Head of Multichannel and CRM, Emirates NBD kicked off Day 2 Summit with an extremely interesting session on addressing UAE’s success in digital payments. Apart from sharing remarkable insights on the payments industry in the UAE, he also launched the bank’s first social media banking product at the Summit. Called Social Banking, this service allows Emirates NBD customers to access their account and make transactions using Twitter’s direct mail service.

Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “We are thrilled by the response we have received from our sponsors and delegates and would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation for their support. In its fifth year now, the summit has grown tremendously in size and relevance. Over the course of two days, the summit covered pertinent industry topics, addressed emerging trends and provided a platform to showcase innovative offerings and solutions targeted to the banking sector.”

This year’s edition of the summit also featured an Innovation Lounge that provided 40+ sponsors and partners an opportunity to present their technological solutions. Additionally, the summit also offered two days of unrivalled networking opportunities that proved to be extremely valuable to the attendees.

Haadi Raad of Visa, Spinney’s Paresh Buch; Emirates NBD’s R. Sivaram and Sameer Soliman of Network International participated in a panel discussion on how digital payments is displacing cash in the real and virtual world. The panel discussion enabled an in-depth conversation and gave delegates valuable insights on the payments industry.

Day 2 sessions included speakers from Comarch, Infrasoft Technologies, Oberthur Technologies, IMTF group and SAS speaking on boosting customer engagement with wearables and beacons; banking in the digital world; fighting e-commerce fraud; transforming compliance burdens into business benefits with digital onboarding and addressing customer’s unspoken needs.

The event was appreciated by attendees, with senior delegates commenting favorably at its close. Renee Tannous Loca, Vice President – Strategic Planning, First Gulf Bank, said, “The summit showcased interesting content from great presenters. The panel discussions showed how groups can work together effectively. It has been a fantastic networking experience.”

“A very well-organized and efficiently run event. The summit had a range of informative speakers from a cross-section of banking and technology sectors.” said, Mr. Andrew Baxter, Managing Director – Global Markets e-commerce, NBAD.

Mr. Anand Narayanan, Head – Demand Management and Project Delivery, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank said, “The participation was impressive. It was nice to see an innovation element demonstrated by most of the technology service providers. I look forward to this event next year as well.”

The Summit came to a close with a lucky draw that saw four winners take home exciting prizes ranging from a set of Sennheiser headphones, a priority pass offering access to 700 airport lounges across the word, an iPad and a 2 nights’ stay at Sofitel, Palm Jumeriah, Dubai.