Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roger Ebert Finds His Voice

I just came across a TEDTalk that Roger Ebert gave back in April. It's extraordinary. Ebert, as you might not know, has been left unable to talk or to eat solid foods after complications during surgery to treat cancer in his salivary gland about five years ago. The TEDTalk he wrote was actually read by the computer voice he uses and by his wife, Chaz, by educator John Hunter, and by Dean Ornish, M.D.

In addition to being an interesting story told with skill and sensitivity, Ebert's presentation offers a few relevant points for planners: Don't be afraid to shake up the way you deliver information; understand the importance of your participants' voices (in every sense of the word); and give some thought as to just what virtual and hybrid platforms are bringing to attendees who simply can't join your in-person meeting. "I feel as if my blog, my email, Twitter, and Facebook have given me a substitute for everyday conversation," Ebert said. "They aren't an improvement, but they're the best I can do. They give me a way to speak."

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