“The more we are aware, the better people we become.”
That is the driving force behind journalist Lisa Ling’s reporting—for National Geographic’s Explorer, for ABC’s Nightline, and now for Our America, her new TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. It’s also the purpose that underlies her public speaking engagements. In her gentle and genuine way, Ling reveals hard truths about things that are happening worldwide—and in our own towns—and asks the audience simply to think about them.
Some listeners, she knows, will be moved to act. Others will change their perspectives, perhaps become more compassionate. But for everyone who hears her, this will be true: “Now that you know, you can’t pretend that you don’t.” (She borrowed the quote from Oprah.)
For meeting planners, a keynote that touches on the epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the disproportionate number of African-American males in U.S. prisons and their difficulty finding opportunities after they’ve paid their debt to society; polygymy; sexual trafficking of children in the U.S.; and other issues of abuse and struggle may not be the easiest pitch you ever make to your executives. But it could be one of the most important and moving for your attendees.
The way that Ling presents her information—with sensitivity, without self-righteousness, revealing that she herself goes into assignments wearing her “American-style glasses” which inevitably get removed as she reaches the heart of a story—encourages listeners to think and to reflect, to hope and to care. And that is her whole goal. “Substantive” coverage about worldwide events (outside of natural disasters, war, and celebrity escapades) is limited, she says. Her reporting and her speaking engagements begin to fill the void.
“I’ve been watching Lisa Ling since I was 14 years old,” says Melissa McCarroll, meeting planner, at Aviva in West Des Moines, Iowa. Each day before morning anouncements, McCarroll and her classmates would watch Channel One, the broadcast news station for schools where Ling began her journalism career as an 18-year-old correspondent. “Her presentation today exceeded my expectations. I was really inspired.”
McCarroll was not alone. Positive tweets were off the charts after Ling’s keynote, which opened day three of the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio. Her appearance was sponsored by Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
Tweeting’s been big at this year’s conference, as redbutton.tv staff have been helping Twitter newbies and experts alike share their comments—all of which are scrolling on screens throughout the venue. (Sam Stanton of redbutton.tv has revealed some early stats: more than 600 tweets and 100 unique tweeters. Pretty impressive for a crowd just dipping its toes—or thumbs!—into at events.)
Nearly 650 planners and hospitality partners packed the breakout rooms at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio for sessions on topics from leadership, to meeting measurement, to hybrid events, to working internationally.
Evening events, meanwhile, are an education in what San Antonio has to offer in terms of venues. Knibbe Ranch, owned by five generations of the Knibbe family, is an authentic cattle ranch and instant theme party. attendees spent the evening in the company of armadillos and longhorns while enjoying a high-energy band and great ranch food by the Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk catering and banquet staff. (Marriott International, which has an exclusive partnership with the property, sponsored the event.) Dinner was followed by a professional rodeo and capped off by fireworks.
The FICP Annual Conference wraps up November 16.