CDM Media Closes Out Q1 2015 with Exciting Growth and Expansion

New York, New York!

“Start spreading the news”…. we’re so excited to be getting settled in our new New York office! Read all about it in our latest press release:

CDM Media Closes Out Q1 2015 with Exciting Growth and Expansion: Leading B2B Firm Adds 14 Events to Product Portfolio, New York City Team Moves into New Flatiron District Office


Chicago, IL, April 2, 2015 – CDM Media, the leading B2B technology marketing and media firm, today announced that it has already exceeded growth expectations as it closes out the first quarter of 2015. Between the solid year-on-year increase of 14 summits in the first half of the year with 11 already completed in Q1, and the addition of its Cardiff, UK office as an EMEA branch of its United States operations, CDM Media is especially excited to unveil its new, expanded New York City presence in the Flatiron District. This new space supports the company’s expectation to triple its headcount in 2015 with added senior and entry-level sales, client services and events management positions across all of its locations.

“We wanted a creative space in the heart of the city’s exciting high tech sector. The new Flatiron office triples the square footage for our growing New York team, as we plan to add ten jobs to this office by the end of Q2,” said Glenn Willis, Founder, Chairman & CEO of CDM Media. “This is an incredibly transformative time, both in terms of our growth and the product portfolio we offer. I’m proud of the overall expansion because this translates into a boost for us, our partners and the delegates we bring together.”

CDM Media’s growth is in direct response to the success of its global C-suite elite summits. 2015 had already proven to be the year of unprecedented changes and evolution across many industries, including security, marketing, utilities, enterprise IT and healthcare.

CDM Media has been on the ground floor in assisting C-level executives in addressing the challenges that accompany each market. In New York and Chicago alone there are several upcoming key events:

CIO Summit New York, April 14, 2015, New York Hilton Midtown:

CISO Summit New York, April 14, 2015, New York Hilton Midtown:

ITSO Summit New York, April 15, 2015, Gansevoort Park Avenue:

Mobility Summit, June 23-24, 2015, Westin Chicago River North:

CIO Midmarket Summit, June 23-24, 2015, Westin Chicago River North:

CIO Cloud Summit, June 25-26, 2015, Westin Chicago River North:

To learn more about CDM Media’s C-Suite Summit series, visit:






Charity Update: March Fundraising Madness!

March Madness is underway in our Chicago office in more ways than one. Our brackets are filled out (did anyone NOT pick UK?) for the NCAA tourney that starts today. Half the proceeds of March Madness will go toward Lurie Children’s Hospital, so we’re excited to buck up and bring in those brackets!

On top of that, the Pocket Change Bucket Challenge has Ben, Kash, Joran and Derek competing to wear an embarrassing suit all day at work (and happy hour) on April 2nd. The buckets with the most donations to Lurie Children’s Hospital will determine the “winner/loser”. Our funds raised from these March efforts will go toward sponsorship and participation of the Lurie Children’s Hospital Move for the Kids 5K Race on May 17, 2015 at Soldier Field. Stay tuned to find out if we hit our goal!


The poor souls up for the challenge of wearing a very embarrassing suit all day at work.

Last month, Pippa and Steph hiked the highest peak in South Wales, Pen Y Fan, for the Freya Bevan Fund, and Bennett Polar Plunged for the Special Olympics!

As a follow up to Freya’s story, we have great news! She has been accepted by an American doctor in Oklahoma for the treatment she needs and will be leaving for the USA imminently. The family still needs support and are actively raising money to fund the treatment (see the full story and donate here). Steph is currently planning a cupcake sale to raise funds at our Cardiff office. Stay tuned for how our fresh baked fundraising pans out!


More great news to report from Bennett’s efforts with the Special Olympics. Not only is he is fully recovered from his frosty dip in Lake Michigan, but the Evanston Polar Plunge has raised over $85,000 – impressive! Bennett alone has raised over $2,000, and his fundraising page is still open through March 23rd. You can get all the chilly details and still donate here!

bennett censored

Bennett taking the Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics.

Big props to our CDM Media team members for their outstanding involvement in our local communities!

Canada at an Innovation Crossroad?

Howdy from the Great White North where we’ve just wrapped up our annual CIO Canada Summit in beautiful Montreal. We make it a habit to start our year north of the border and this year was no different. The Ritz Carlton Montreal played host to us, and we played host to some of the best and brightest from our neighbors to the north. It is an absolutely fabulous hotel and if you ever have the opportunity to go, you really should make the effort. After all, when NHLers are in town, it’s where they stay too.

Some of the bigger names in attendance included Peter Bruce, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Shared Services from the Government of Canada; Gerry Boyer, CEO for One Million Acts of Innovation Canada; and Chantal Belzile, CIO from the Business Development Bank of Canada. All in all though we were joined by over 40 very passionate and very smart IT executives who came together to meet, and learn, and plan for their and the country’s future. And clearly the future of the country is just as important to the attendees as is the future of their companies.

The theme of the Summit couldn’t have been more clear – from the opening Exclusive CIO Think Tank where two dozen of the attendees joined me in a private conversation about key trends, through two separate Executive Visions Panel discussions, to our closing Summit Chat Wrap, the only thing on everyone’s mind was innovation. It’s safe to say that Canada, once viewed as a world leader in terms of innovation in general, and technology innovation specifically, is feeling the pressure from other global innovators. The situation clearly isn’t all bad – Canada still has a great ecosystem as a innovation “nursery” – growing the seeds of ideas into the saplings of small “i” innovation. The downfall is clearly the ability to keep growing those saplings into giant redwood big “I” innovations that stand visible and proud for all to see. Indeed, too often it seems that the saplings (and the brilliant minds behind them) are snapped up by other innovators and spirited away to finish their growth elsewhere. No matter how many times we discussed the issue, we couldn’t find definitive resolution, but we did work through a number of options. As CDM’s lone Canadian employee, I’m personally interested to see how things play out in the coming years.

No Summit recap would be complete without a big thank you to the partners that help us put on the event. IBM, HP, Rogers, and Equinox (among many, many others) made sure that as our delegates looked for answers to the innovation conundrum, there were options presented to them to deal with the issue in their own shop at least.

So, 2015 is off and rolling. Coming up in March we have a full slate of events, most notably including our big national events – CIO US and CIO Europe – but with plenty of supporting events as well. If you’re interested in attending, take a look at the schedule and give us a call. We’d be happy to see you down on site and to get you involved in anyway that we can.

Steph and Pippa’s Hike for Freya

The Cardiff Office are banding together to support a very young local girl in her battle against cancer.

pip and steph 2

Freya Bevan is a two-year-old girl from Neath who was diagnosed with a PNET Brain Tumour in April 2014. The lifesaving treatment she requires is not available in the UK, so her parents are taking her to Germany for the treatment which costs £250,000. Local businesses and communities throughout South Wales are doing everything they can to support Freya to get the treatment she needs to fight this horrible disease.

On Saturday morning (January 24), Steph & Pippa from our Cardiff office are hiking to the highest peak in South Wales, Pen Y Fan, which stands 886 metres (2907 feet) above sea level. They are collecting donations for the hike and welcomed any support from their overseas offices. Many thanks to the Chicago & NYC offices for their support, and to the girls in Cardiff who are generously giving their time and energy to such an important cause. We’re rooting for you!

If you would like to make a donation, please click here. To follow Freya’s story, visit the Freya Bevan Fund Facebook and follow on @FreyaBevan_Fund on Twitter.



CDM Media in the News: 15 Sectors to Watch in 2015

U.S. News and World Report recently asked our CEO, Glenn Willis, which sectors are poised for growth in 2015. Check out what he had to say about communications providers and online retail, or click here for the full article.

iStockPhoto from U.S. News and World Report

iStockPhoto from U.S. News and World Report

Which sectors are poised for growth?

Even as they’re waiting to watch the ball drop at Times Square, investors hope not to drop a ball of a different sort in 2015 — whether that means missing out on a big opportunity in one sector or hanging on too long in another. Here, we present 15 sectors to watch in the new year, with financial and industry authorities weighing in on the potentials, opportunities and pitfalls to consider.

Marijuana: growing

It’s almost banal to say marijuana will hit a high in 2015. But it’s certainly novel if you’re looking for positive returns. Steven Siegel, CEO of BioTrackTHC, which provides medical marijuana dispensary software, says the legal marijuana industry, already at $3 billion, is growing by leaps and bounds. “It offers significant opportunities, whether in publicly traded companies, via private equity or through entrepreneurism,” he says. “The industry will realize a sharp revenue rise as more states legalize medical marijuana and adult recreational use, resulting in an $18 billion to $20 billion sector in the next five to six years.”

Wine: struggling

No, the struggle isn’t a matter of competition with marijuana — it’s within the wine sector itself, says Rowan Gormley, CEO and founder of “Starting a wine brand today in the conventional marketplace has never been harder, with seemingly limitless competition and lots of middlemen and no margin,” he says. “If there’s a future in wine, it’s at the production level.”

East Coast enterprise tech: growing

You may think all of the high-tech action is in Silicon Valley, but companies in the Northeast are poised to grab a bigger slice of the pie, according to Luke Burns, a partner at Ascent Venture Partners in Boston. “With 82,500 technology companies, and 80 percent of the world’s largest technology companies owning a significant presence in the Northeast, the geography is ripe,” he says. “Four verticals in particular are revolutionizing enterprise IT: cloud, mobility, data and security.”

Raw materials extraction: struggling

Resource companies generally fight to return their cost of capital, says Todd Millay, managing director of Choate Investment Advisors in Boston. “They are deeply cyclical and have limited potential for adding value. They’ve traditionally been poor investments outside of major commodity bull markets,” he says.

Silicon production: growing

Big drivers for silicon demand are in industries with currently healthy growth curves: electronics, automotive, personal care products and construction. It’s no valley that silicon will experience in 2015, predicts Jeff Bradley, Globe Specialty Metals CEO and chief operating officer. “Prices are expected to reach about $1.48 per pound, up from $1.20 this year, and solar-related silicon demand is expected to double by 2016,” he says.

Oil and gas: watch

The recent sharp drop in oil prices does not bode well for the immediate future of this sector. But things are set to pick up later in 2015, says Peter Cohan, a visiting lecturer at Babson College who teaches strategy and entrepreneurship. “Oil and gas exploration stocks are going to keep falling,” he notes. “However, there’s a good chance that they will fall so far that they will become inexpensive relative to their earnings growth.”

Solar energy: growing

Although solar energy has failed to reach critical mass in past decades, the sun now shines on the sector, says Christina Alfonso, founder and CEO of Madeira Global. “The U.S. made major strides in the past few years to become more energy-efficient and reduce its dependency on foreign supply,” she notes. After controversy in 2011 over loans to failed companies such as Solyndra, “the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office broke even in 2014 on their loans to the industry,” she says.

Manufacturing: struggling

Richard Wellins, senior vice president of Development Dimensions International, bases his recommendation on a study he co-authored, “The Global Leadership Forecast” for 2014-2015. “Fields such as manufacturing face some of the greatest challenges, including an aging workforce and slowing growth,” he says. “In the midst of ongoing economic uncertainties, this industry needs to leverage innovative and creative ways to attract new people and develop their leaders’ required skills.”

Defense industry: growing

Cohan predicts that companies making military equipment will experience strong demand in 2015. “The world is going to continue to be a dangerous place,” he says. “Those investors who focus on the kinds of equipment needed to defend against terrorist groups will particularly benefit. Demand for drones and surveillance technology will also remain strong.”

Paper: struggling

The international paper industry had a high level of risk exposure in 2014, most of which it brought upon itself, says Alexandra Mihailescu Cichon, head of business development and marketing at RepRisk, a risk advisory firm. “Major players in the space were involved in incidents that violated national legislation, impacted local communities and the ecosystem and landscape, as well as local pollution, supply chain and waste issues,” she says.

3-D Printing: growing

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3-D printing needs to overcome some of the hype attached to it in 2014, says Adam Clark, founder and managing partner of Tangible Solutions, a 3-D firm in Beavercreek, Ohio. “Some of it was good, some too good to be true. But 2015 will prove to be the year traditional manufacturers will find ways to utilize the technology. A skyrocketing number of companies will provide additive manufacturing as their primary service to other businesses,” he says.

Communications providers: growing

With the explosion of content and major acquisitions (such as the Comcast-NBCUniversal deal), big companies can now become one-stop shops for content and communications delivery, says Glenn Willis, founder, chairman and CEO of CDM Media, a think tank and conference facilitator for chief information officers. “That effectively creates captive audiences to deliver cross-convergent services to,” Willis says.

Financial services: growing

“Wall Street will boom in 2015,” Cohan says. “As Republicans take over Congress, the loosening of regulatory restrictions will enable Wall Street banks to take more risks on financial instruments trading, and that will generate higher revenues for the banks.” There is one caveat, Cohan adds: “Taxpayers will be on the hook should those bets go bad.”

Pharmaceuticals: growing

Specialty drugs will fuel big gains in the industry, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report forecasting health care costs for 2015. Although combined costs will only jump a modest 6.8 percent in 2015, specialty drug spending will mushroom to $192.2 billion by 2016 — a 121 percent increase from 2012.

Online retail: watch

Here, the crux of the matter is big data. Those retailers that grasp the technology and use it could see profits jump significantly, Willis says. “It’s all about a very personalized consumer approach,” which, for example, uses data to customize clothing recommendations, he says. “Online commerce and social selling will continue to thrive and overtake what has been a cumbersome market in recent times.”

By Lou Carlozo, U.S. News and World Report | U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT LOGO

Three’s Company: Cardiff, NYC and Chicago Unite!

Some companies have checked out for the year and will start fresh in January, but CDM Media leaves everything on the floor.

The Cardiff and NYC teams have all arrived at our Chicago HQ to unite for a memorable and impactful trip. The goal is to bring our momentum together to carry out an enthusiastic and productive week to close out 2014, but the Chicago office is still finding time to showcase one of our many talents: eating good food, and plenty of it.

Giordano’s pizza, classic local sandwiches, quiche, cookies, brownies and more (hello, Portillo’s). We’re already enjoying this dynamic week together of good work, good food, and good times and look forward to closing out many more December’s to come.

CDM Media team at our building's holiday party

Members of the CDM Media team at our building’s holiday party. Don’t let them fool you, anyone not holding food was about to!


Two Weeks, Three Time Zones, Four Summits

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and there’s been a crazy amount going on so this will be a bumper post as I get you all caught up on the last few weeks.

The national CIO Summits are some of our biggest Summits of the year and this fall’s iteration was no exception. It kicked off two weeks ago Sunday (November 9th to be exact) at the fabulous Miami Marriott, Biscayne Bay. As is in keeping with all of our Summits, attendance was limited to less than 50 delegates, so it wasn’t the size of the crowd that made it the biggest, but instead the size of the organizations that crowd worked for. With companies like Carnival, Halliburton, Time Warner, and Bank of America in attendance, it’s safe to say that the roster was littered with CIOs and senior IT executives from across the Fortune 500.

The event got rolling with a Think Tank led by former Chevron CIO Denise Coyne on the ever-challenging topic of IT-Business Integration and Alignment. This served as the perfect icebreaker and warmed everyone up for the conversations to come. Throughout the next few days we listened to keynote presentations from Guru Vasudeva (CTO at Nationwide) and Ted Colbert III (CIO at Boeing), participated in panels that featured speakers from Wells Fargo and FedEx, and sat in on numerous Think Tanks and Roundtables delivered by execs from all industries. If I had to nail the theme for the event down to just one topic I’d have to say it was the new era of digital transformation in which we find ourselves, the collective efforts of IT to respond to the change, and the innovative and dynamic ways in which IT is driving the enterprise forward. For those that were there it was an incredible opportunity to learn and share, talk and understand. For those that weren’t, it was a real opportunity missed.

As CIO wrapped midday on Tuesday, the team eased straight into Mobility. I really have to hand it to the CDM staff as a whole, they never missed a beat as they said good-bye to one group and welcomed another. Rachel and Kristen and Allie and Alex handled the delegate interactions brilliantly, waving goodbye with one hand as they shook hello with the other. Nelson and the boss himself Glenn made sure all of the partners felt appreciated and acknowledged, and our newest team member Joran did an amazing job of going with the flow, following the team’s lead, and integrating beautifully, with just a handful of days at CDM under her belt before she arrived on site.

Mobility didn’t have the luxury of being eased into the way CIO did with a relaxing all hands Think Tank conversation, instead hitting the ground running with an opening keynote delivered by the VP IS for UPS, Ken Finnerty. Ken’s opening talk on delivering enterprise innovation through the pairing of a couple of key so-called “disruptive” technologies – Mobility and Big Data – was bang on in it’s focus and messaging. It certainly set a high tone for the event as a whole.

As the most mature, or at least most widely adopted, of Gartner’s “Nexus of Forces”, Mobility is a discussion that leads not to theoretical guess work, but concrete, real-world case study evaluation. Among those delegates sharing their experiences (both good and bad – no fear of sharing among this group) were speakers from Coca-Cola, the American Cancer Society, and 1-800-Flowers. The applicability of mobile technologies it seems knows no bounds, and companies of all sizes and all walks of life are benefitting from deployments targeted both internally and externally.

We closed out Mobility on Wednesday with an invigorating panel discussion on the future of Mobility, and it’s potential conversion with another hot topic area, the Internet of Things. The conversation was passionate and involved, and our panelists each got there fifteen minutes of fame, wowing the audience with their vision.

With that we wrapped, shook hands, patted backs, and flew off to our various homes for a brief visit with loved ones before the road beckoned again. This time our travels took us to the desert and the FireSky Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona to host the second of our bi-annual Big Data Summits as well as the CME/Telecom Summit (CME being Communication, Media, & Entertainment).

The Big Data Summit is fast becoming one of our flagship events, rivaling the national CIO Summit as well as the market vertical focused Finance and Insurance Summits as events that draw the who’s who in their fields. It was a little awe-inspiring to see the names and faces in the room with representatives of The Weather Channel, Pfizer, Mapquest, and Capital One all in attendance.

One of the most interesting issues as a result of the Big Data and Analytics investments over the last few years is that of accountability and ownership – just who owns what, exactly? To explore this topic we pitted a Chief Analytics Officer (Pamela Peele from UPMC) against a Chief Data Officer (Donnie Yancey from Mapquest) and let them go at it. No voices were raised, no fingers were pointed, and no fur flew, but a more involved conversation I haven’t seen in a long, long time. After our Think Tank leaders established initial viewpoints, the entire crowd got in on the act, and I don’t think there was a single person that didn’t add something to the conversation. Ninety minutes expired before any of us realized it, and another fifteen passed before we had to be reminded that the networking reception had started, and would we all mind very much heading to it.

That seeding conversation laid the foundations for what would be one of the most interactive events I’ve attended in a long time. Our opening keynote presenter was Gus Hunt, the former CTO of the Central Intelligence Agency. Gus is a dynamic speaker with a great conversational style but more importantly with incredible insights, and tremendous experience. Gus didn’t so much make a presentation as he told a story, weaving together elements of Data & Analytics with others from Cloud, Mobility, and Security in a way that more than one attendee referred to as “the best speech I’ve heard on that topic in my life”. It seemed a shame to end the session, but what came after mitigated that because successive sessions were just as good.

As with the Mobility Summit, the Big Data Summit sessions avoided the theoretical and dove deeply into real-world case studies of what actual practitioners were actually doing. Whether it was Harvard Innovation Labs, NutriSavings, The Weather Channel, or AutoTrader, each speaker brought something meaningful and useful to the conversation, and provided insights that everyone could learn from. And when our close friend John O’Brien from Radiant Advisors presented his company’s vision on how to build the right governance framework, there wasn’t a person in the audience that wasn’t frantically taking notes. The Summit concluded on Tuesday with a panel on just that topic – Data Governance – and so we book-ended the event with active and impassioned debate.

Lunch was a brief affair for the CDM staff this time, with just a brief 15-minute turnaround between the close of the Big Data event and the launch of the CME/Telecom one. Once again the onsite team (Jen, Gina, Kelsey, Jason, and John) handled things with aplomb, transitioning audiences seamlessly and gracefully. As the only constant between teams and events, it always impresses me just how good and consistent a job the CDM staff do, regardless of who is actually doing it.

With CME/Telecom we were working with a much more intimate group, just two dozen individuals, but all highly placed in the industry and their organizations, so the event didn’t suffer at all for the smaller group of voices. Frank Palase, SVP of Strategy and Innovation with DirecTV shared his experiences of 20 years with the organization via a great talk on how to move beyond theoretical strategizing and get to actionable execution. It sounds simplistic I know, but given where IT leaders are at these days in terms of role reinvention, a direct hard-hitting talk like the one Frank gave was great for cutting through the chatter and fretting.

From there our agenda ran wild; we had deep-dive technical sessions on SDN and NFV implementations, people-focused management sessions looking at the workforce of the future, and pretty much everything in between. We looked at the cloud and mobility, understood data and analytics, and evaluated the impact of M&A activities (a particular hotspot in these industries right now). Our analyst partner, the great Ray Mota from ACG Research, also shared his company’s insights into the future impact of virtual managed services, insights that included some very practical and tactical approaches to establishing and measuring value.

And before we knew it, another event was done.

Dinner and drinks by the pool lasted well into the night as fledgling business relationships turned into fledgling friendships, and everyone’s network grew just that much larger, and just that much more tightly knit. As Wednesday turned into Thursday, we wended our way to the airport all tired but fulfilled after yet another round of successful CDM Media events. Next up CIO San Francisco on December 4th, and then back the FireSky the 7th through 10th for CISO and Cloud. I hope to see you there.

The Great CDM Events Machine Rolls On

Another week, another three fabulous events as CDM Media keeps churning out great experience after great experience for for IT Leader delegates and our sponsor partners.

Last week we took a “dual pincer” approach with Rachel leading a team into Panama City and I leading one to first Boston and Dallas. Rachel’s already shared some of the high points of the LATAM Summit, but in case you missed it, here’s a recap:

On Sunday, a team of small in number but big in heart departed Chicago headed for Panama for our 4th annual CIO Latin America Summit.  The delegation consisted of attendees from some of the world’s largest brands, such as Philips, Manpower Group, Sony and Pampa Energy, and many flew in from all corners of Latin America, including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile. 

The summit went off without a hitch, and the setting of the Westin Playa Bonita Panama was a perfect location to host our delegates and attending sponsors. 

Well done to the team that tackled this event, which isn’t easy given the amount of countries often involved.

Much the same should be said about the events in North America.

Our Boston Summit (first time ever hosting a regional Summit for the folks in this part of the world) featured delegates from notable companies like State Street Bank, CVS, and Philips. Local government was also well represented as senior execs from both the City and the State were in the audience. The partner list was a who’s who of key CDM relationships as well as Qlik, Rimini Street, Pythian, and Mimecast all came out to meet the local delegation. The event was held in the Historic Harvard Club of Boston and the venue space, the Massachusetts Hall was dedicated to the “Great Massachusetts Men of Harvard” who have served instrumental roles in the government that has formed and grown this country, including past Presidents John Adams, John Quincy-Adams, and John F. Kennedy. With their portraits looking on, we had quite the audience.

With Boston in the books we winged our way to Dallas, again for our first ever regional Summit in that location (though we’ve been to Dallas before for non-regional events). I’d say our location, the Intercontinental Dallas, was just off the highway and so easy to get to, but everything in Dallas is just off one highway or another, so that really doesn’t count. Ed Marx, CIO of Texas Health Resources and a noted public speaker kicked the day of for us with an inspiring presentation on innovation, a message that was repeated many times throughout the day. Indeed it was repeated right until the very end when Anjana Harve, CIO Americas for Novartis echoed many of the same themes. In between we looked at Data Governance, Cloud Architecture, the impact of Mobility. We were supported in Dallas by Good, ServiceNow, SoftwareAG, and by our good friend Jay from Zscaler and everyone had a great event.

The onsite team of Jen Rosa, Stephanie Nelson, Justin Sirni and Valery Rosser did an amazing job at both Summits of keeping things moving smoothly and efficiently, of keeping the partners and delegates engaged and happy, and cementing relationships for continued future success. A hearty congratulations goes out to each and every one of them.

The various divisions now get a week off of travel to recap and reconnect with loved ones before starting a big push in November that includes CIO UK, the Sourcing Summit, CIO US, Mobility, Big Data, and CIO Communications/Media/Entertainment and trips to London, Miami and Phoenix. With events and locations like that, it’s clear that we have the best job in the world.

Presentation Design, the Definitive Guide

Okay, so “Definitive Guide” is more than a little presumptuous, but hopefully it got your attention. Which is kinda the point; your presentation materials should be designed to get attention, to create a sense of interest, and not to bore the living bejeezus out of the audience. How to do that? Well, there’s a few guiding principles that you need to follow. I’m not going to take all the credit here; a lot of what I’m going to present is derived from the work of Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte. Their books, Presentation Zen and Slide:ology, are akin to bibles for a lot of people and if you are going to deliver even one serious presentation in your life you should read them. But if you just want the Cliffs Notes version, I’ll try and summarize here.

Point One – this is the most important (and I mean THE. MOST. IMPORTANT.), the slides support the speaker, not the other way around. People don’t come to your presentation to read what is written on your slides, they come to your presentation to hear what you have to say, to hear your message. Time and time again I sit through presentations where the speaker narrates the slide, either by reading it verbatim, or by describing what the slide is showing. Newsflash – the audience can read the words or follow the diagram themselves. I’ve mentioned this before in this blog, but it bears repeating. Now I’m not saying abandon all slides, just remember why you are using them; as the visual aid to support your message, to help ensure greater “stickiness” so that what you say becomes more memorable.

Point Two – design your slides for the back of the room, meaning build slides that can be seen and interpreted by the guy sitting in the very last row, rather than just by the people sitting in the front row. If you are going to take the time to build slides, don’t you want to make sure that they can be seen/read/understood by everyone in the audience? Building slides that have incredibly dense amounts of tiny-font text or small diagrams achieves the exact opposite of the goal of the slide (supporting the message, see Point One). Either you force the audience to strain to make out the details of the slide (and forcing that much effort into visual comprehension takes that much effort away from auditory comprehension) or you provide incomprehensible support materials because the details can’t be made out no matter how hard the audience tries. Bigger fonts, bigger diagrams. If that means less information on each slide, that’s ok because…

Point Three – include only one idea per slide. Remember: the slides are there to support your speaking and so each point you make needs individual support. This probably means building more slides than you intended, but that’s ok because each slide will be simpler and easier to build. And because they’re simpler, they’re probably going to be easier to read from the back of the room (see how that works?). Sometimes ideas are not simple though and so they need to be supported by complex slides. That’s ok, but if you are going to create complex slides make sure that you are using animation to literally build the slide out as you build the point with your speech. A nice tasteful fade effect is best and it’s really the only time you need animation. Whizzing and swirling and bouncing slides and slide elements just create visual noise that detract from the two most important things – your message, and the slide’s job of support.

Point Four – use fewer words and more pictures. This, believe it or not, is the trickiest thing for amateur presenters to master, but the thing that has the most profound impact on the, well, impact of the slides. Human beings are extremely visually oriented and consume via watching far more readily than by reading. It’s part of why the publishing industry is a $30B industry and in decline while Film & Television is $522B industry and growing. Making the shift from slides that have long lists of bullet points to ones that have diagrams, models, and photographs will (when done well) create a visually compelling tapestry that allows people to understand complex ideas, concepts, and relationships quickly and easily, without distracting from the actual presentation you are presenting. And those long lists of bullets points can still be kept as the speaker notes if they really do summarize the essence of your message.

That’s not it by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly enough to get you started on the path. Keeping these principles in mind as you prepare for your next presentation will hopefully help you make slides that do a better job of supporting your message, and therefore help you do a better job of delivering that message.

Brighter Lights, Bigger City

As we finally get a brief moment to breath during the busy events calendar that CDM Media has this year, I wanted to take some time to let you all know what is going on a little place they call New York. Yes the rumors are true; CDM is opening another office in its quest to bring world-class executive events to the masses.

Over the past 7 years here at CDM Media its been a privilege to see the rapid growth from some pretty humble beginnings in a small no-window office in Hawaii to 2 years later taking over the entire 28th floor of the building – which had lots of windows (I’m still not sure what was worse – living in paradise and not seeing the outside, or having 270 degree views overlooking Honolulu and Waikiki and being stuck in the office).

Hawaii Office

Fast forward another few years and we relocated company HQ from Hawaii to Chicago where I had the pleasure of taking some very fine CDMers and opening up the doors at 155 N Wacker Drive. Within the year we opened our UK office in Cardiff and our march into EMEA took full stride. During the past several years it has been my honor to be a part of numerous hirings and openings across all our offices. Further, its been great to see that many of the folks that worked in Hawaii and helped open the doors in Chicago are still amongst us, and in well earned and deserved senior positions across the company.

But enough reminiscing (although the photos from Hawaii might warrant a couple of other blog posts about the amazing travel locations that CDM staff get to see… hint, hint blog master!) and back to what I’m meant to be talking about; CDM is opening yet another office and we are to have official dwellings in Chelsea/Flatiron in the bustling metropolis that is NYC.

For CDM, the city of New York offers an abundance of new hires within a very close proximity- if you haven’t already heard Manhattan has a very dense population and a whole new employee base for us to onboard and turn into highly functional, fun and fantastic CDMers. Finding the right hires for any company is important, but finding the right hires for a company opening a new office is massively important. So over the past few months between Glenn, Mike, and I we have interviewed over 100 candidates for both Business Development and Relationship Management roles for NYC alone. Going into the interviews we knew what we were looking for – that’s the easy part. Sifting through the 1000+ resumes, conducting several hundred calls to vet candidates, and then interviewing face-to-face is the hard part.

Recruiting staff has to be one of the most mind-boggling, brilliant, but painstakingly resource intensive experiences I been through here at CDM. Going into NYC and interviewing 10-15 persons a day even, with the likes of the comical genius Mike at the side (and doing the majority of the heavy lifting in scheduling etc.) is nothing short of knackering. Just pulling from my personal experience from interviewing not only was I able to meet some great candidates and go on to hire several already, but I also took a real sense of pride in what CDM has achieved to date. Our products are highly regarded not just by our clients that receive top class events and digital media services, but also from our peers and contemporaries at other companies. Sure I am not naïve enough to think that during the interview process a candidate would look to put CDM on a pedestal, but flushed with candidates many coming from well established companies such as Gartner, Wall Street Journal, and The NY Times it was great to see that many candidates had taken time to research about CDM and, having seen the recruitment video online, had picked up on the CDM culture. Kudos are due to HR and to TechServices for doing a great job on the videos across YouTube and beyond.

The end result of the sometimes-tiresome NYC trips was that we were able to invite some of the 3rd and 4th stage interviewees to come in for more interviews at our Chicago HQ office before pulling the trigger and getting them onboard. What we are looking for in new hires pretty much embodies the major cultural principles that drives successful CDMers – putting the client first, working hard and enjoying it, being entrepreneurial go getters, and the list goes on.

Taking a momentary step back, its nice to think that we have over the years seen CDMers from all walks of life join and embrace this culture and for many help shape it across the various departments and office to ensure that we have a truly great employee base. I bring this up not just to champion the quality of people (that’s you CDM) that I have the pleasure of working with everyday who make the business truly brilliant. No, I do it to highlight that with having such a unique culture to our business today, how much easier recruiting and successful on-boarding of new staff can be. After all a man who is credited “with inventing management” did say “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

So as the bright lights of NYC beckon and with the incubator team of Ira, Justin, and Matt heading back home (which I think they are looking forward to) and shortening their commute by 1000 miles or so, we go into our brand new office space in prime real estate in Chelsea/Flatiron. Monday will also be the starting date for some other new hires – watch this space as we hit the ground running and look to build CDM within the Empire State. Anyways time to get back to the day job but no doubt you will see me flitting in between Chicago and NYC racking up the air miles.