Need your meeting ‘summarized’? I’ve got your guy!

Dale Irvin has trademarked himself the Professional Summarizer, and I have to believe he’s the best in the biz. Okay, he’s possibly the only one in the biz, but if you’re hosting a convention or event that needs a spark of fun I’m confident Irvin will deliver.

What he does is essentially a blend of emceeing and stand-up comedy, wherein Irvin provides brief-but-biting takes encapsulating speakers’ presentations. For example, following a social media talk that included the recommendation of a ‘Starbucks Finder’ app, Dale had this to say:

“That would be perfect for anyone too lazy to look 150 feet in any given direction.”

The Chicago-based Irvin recently shared some thoughts with me on the nature of his business, what he brings to the table as a ‘professional summarizer,’ and much more. You can also see a video of Dale in action, or find out more at his website.

How did you first become a ‘meetings summarizer’? Are there others out there doing this as well?

I first summarized a meeting when I was given 10 minutes to make an announcement that only took 30 seconds. I used the next nine and a half minutes to give a summary of what had happened that day, and it was very well received. At the end of the meeting I was asked to come to another meeting to summarize and a career was born.

Actually, I have been doing this since junior high school. In class, I would listen to the teacher and write down little jokes as they went along. These jokes would get passed around and I'd get caught. The funny thing is this "Smart-aleck" skill is what allows me to do what I do today. I tell people that I now get paid for what I used to get detentions for.

 I don't know if there is anybody else out there doing what I do but I haven't met them. It also helps that I have the term Professional Summarizer trademarked.

Are some industries/events tougher to summarize than others? Do you have a favorite industry or event to summarize? I would think something like biotechnology would be tougher to ‘wrap up’ than, say, travel…?

My favorite industries are those with large conventions bringing in a lot of people. Any kind of sales group is a good audience for what I do.

Financial Services is my top industry but I've summarized quite a few different groups. The hardest one was an all-male audience of actuaries, many of whom had charisma transplants. It's also difficult speaking to a foreign audience where you are being interpreted by a translator. You can throw timing out the door on those situations.


Are you available to do meetings summarizing all over the U.S.? Do you have a favorite city to visit for your work?

 I work all over the U.S. as well as globally, although from my previous comment you can tell that it's a bit more difficult.

My favorite cities to visit are New Orleans and any city in Hawaii. My favorite city to work in is Chicago...because I live there.

 What exactly do your meetings summaries bring to the table for events and attendees?

When attendees skip out on a meeting, it's because they think it's going to be boring and no fun. I can't eliminate the boring part but I can make it a lot more fun. As a result, they not only attend but they stay until the end of the program so that they can hear my summary.

Ongoing summaries keep the audience awake, attentive, and engaged because the audience knows that if they don't listen to the speaker, they won't get the jokes.

My comments give the attendees something to talk about when they network at the coffee breaks.

And meetings can never be too much fun!


What comedians (or others) have had the greatest influence on you?

 Johnny Carson (timing). Steve Allen (quickness and improv), and George Carlin (creativity).


What’s a favorite moment from your time as a summarizer?

 I was on a program with Tony Robbins who was telling the audience about the power of the mind. To prove this, he remarked about the time a woman with a dreaded fear of snakes approached him and he calmed her down and gave her a snake to hold. My comment after his speech was, "Tony, I can't believe you gave that woman a snake to cure her fears. I have never told anyone this before bur Ferraris scare the heck out of me." The next week I received a package in the mail from Tony. It was a Matchbox Ferrari.

 What’s your favorite joke ever?

 The next one.


How would you summarize the meetings and events industry as a whole?

Meeting planners are without a doubt among the hardest working people in the world, but they are facing challenges just like the rest of us. The recent recession and economic stagnancy has left them with tighter budgets and reduced meetings. What we need to do as speakers, is to work with the meeting planner to help them improve the quality and electricity of the meeting while keeping costs down. I also hope that our fine representatives in Washington D.C. remember how important the meetings and events industry is to the economy as a whole.

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