Conferences that Work

Being Present in the Age of the Mind Outside the Brain

Conferences that Work

The other day, Celia and I were walking in Boston’s beautiful Arnold Arboretum when she asked me who’d responded to an email I’d sent. When I pulled out my phone to answer her question, she said she felt she was walking with a third person, a stranger.

Have I Met You Before? Three ways to minimize embarrassment when meeting people

Conferences that Work

An embarrassing incident I was hanging out at the Marlboro South Pond Regatta , a whimsical affair where local sailors of all stripes and abilities casually “race” around a few buoys in the lake, sometimes stopping to chat mid-race with each other or watch our beautiful loons.

2018 245

Seating while Eating at Meetings

Conferences that Work

It’s no Comedians in Cars getting Coffee , but here’s my draft script for Seating while Eating at Meetings.

What’s most important about an event, the gift or the wrapping?

Conferences that Work

While writing about seeing the gifts in people and events I remembered one of my favorite scenes in Love Actually (2003).

2018 221

A Practical Guide to Measuring Event Success

Can you measure event ROI? 3 in 5 marketers can't. Learn how with this free ROI model.

Nobody is born ahead of their time

Conferences that Work

After watching Hannah Gadsby ‘s stunning show Nanette — which I highly recommend — here’s a small piece worth sharing. Gadsby starts with Vincent Van Gogh, looking at how we’ve come to lionize the idea of misunderstood genius. Born ahead of his time,” she says. What a load of s**t.

2018 201

An innovative conference competition format

Conferences that Work

My Dutch friend and expert moderator, Jan Jaap In der Maur , recently shared an innovative format for an in-conference pitch competition he devised for the Conventa Crossover Conference , in Ljubljana, Slovenia: “There were also the Conventa Crossover Awards.

Is paid influencer marketing ethical in the event industry?

Conferences that Work

Paid influencer marketing is spreading to the event industry, and I doubt that it’s an ethical practice. Last week I received the following voice mail (identifying details have been bleeped; transcript below.). link].

2016 334

Create memorable learning experiences and connections at simple workshops

Conferences that Work

I often design and facilitate workshops for association members who mostly haven’t met before. The desired outcomes are for each participant to gain useful and relevant professional insights, and to make significant new connections.

2018 169

Three better alternatives to the conference lecture

Conferences that Work

Ah, the ubiquitous conference one-hour lecture. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. Actually I don’t need to do that since Donald Bligh listed them all in his classic book What’s The Use Of Lectures? first published in 1972 ! Rather than reiterate the shortcomings of broadcast-style teaching, I’ll go positive and describe three superior alternatives to sitting through an expert’s non-stop utterances.

How to trash your brand

Conferences that Work

If I could completely avoid flying American Airlines I would. Not because of the airline’s mediocre rankings in on-time arrivals, lost baggage, fees, and customer satisfaction. After all, there are some airlines that are even worse (Spirit, I’m looking at you ).

2018 156

Effortlessly Interact with an Entire Audience from Any Location

1,000 Participants. 75 Locations. 1 Solution.

The meeting industry’s biggest dirty secret

Conferences that Work

There are some things that the meeting industry doesn’t like to talk about in public. For example: Revenue models. Who actually paid for all that sybaritic F&B? You’ll never know.). Clients from hell. They might figure out it’s them I was talking about and I need the business.).

Guaranteeing audience engagement at your events

Conferences that Work

Most people won’t ask questions at meetings. So how can you get authentic audience engagement at your events? In a thoughtful article “ Audience Engagement – at the Heart of Meetings “, Pádraic Gilligan writes: “…We all want audience engagement so why doesn’t it take place?…While

2016 298

22 great iPhone/iPad apps for event professionals

Conferences that Work

Two years have passed since the last update of my favorite iPad/iPhone apps for event professionals. Apps continue to be born, evolve, and, sometimes, die—so it’s time for my latest list of event professionals’ great apps! Read the full article at Conferences That Work.

2017 261

What’s the best learning model for conference sessions?

Conferences that Work

We don’t usually think about the learning models we employ during conference sessions, and I believe our events would be better if we did. Conventional conferences assume a ready supply of experts to whom we listen while they cover the learning that has been advertised at their sessions.

2016 301

Why you should run The Solution Room at your next event

Conferences that Work

The Solution Room is rapidly becoming a popular meeting plenary.

2018 179

How to help meeting design clients figure out what they really want and need

Conferences that Work

Great — a client who doesn’t know what they want! Recently, a client asked for help designing a new conference. Thirty minutes of discussion with three stakeholders revealed they hadn’t yet settled on the event’s specific purpose, scope, and format. From my perspective this is actually a great problem to have. Because most clients engage me after they are committed to programs and logistics that are not optimum for what they’re trying to accomplish!

How to design for powerful connection and learning at large meetings

Conferences that Work

Although you’d never guess it from reading meeting industry trade journals, most meetings are small meetings , and this is a good thing if you want effective and relevant connection and learning to take place. Large meetings stroke owners’ and leaders’ egos, can supply impressive spectacle, are appropriate places to launch campaigns and mass announcements, and can be very profitable.

2018 159

Idea: Develop products and services with clients at conferences

Conferences that Work

Did you know that at Axon’s annual user conference, Accelerate , participants help design new company products that address their needs?

Nine conference mythodologies

Conferences that Work

Long ago, consultant Tom Gilb coined the term “mythodology” to describe erroneous but commonly held beliefs about how something should be done. Here are nine mythodologies about conferences. Mythodology: We know what our attendees want to learn about. Reality : No, you don’t. At least half the sessions programmed at traditional conferences are not what attendees want. Mythodology: Event socials are a good way to meet people.

Four reasons why traditional conferences are obsolete

Conferences that Work

Previously, I’ve described three major trends that make traditional conference formats obsolete: No longer knowing in advance what attendees want to learn ; The rise of online ; and. The massive change in how we learn what we need to know to do our jobs. Here’s a fourth.

The declining influence of leadership positional power in a network society

Conferences that Work

Almost all organization leaders today wield positional power — the power of a boss to make decisions that affect others — and this is unlikely to change soon. But the growth of the network era , where leaders and workers need to connect outside the workplace in order to stay up to date professionally and to be open to new and innovative ideas, is creating a shift away from traditional hierarchical power models.

2018 164

The architecture of assembly

Conferences that Work

“Architecture sets the stage for our lives; it creates the world we inhabit and shapes how we relate to one another. In a time in which democracy is under increasing pressure in different parts of the world, it is time to rethink the architecture of assembly.”

2017 252

Why experiential learning is superior to every other kind

Conferences that Work

Why is experiential learning superior to every other kind? In a word: feedback. Jerry Weinberg explains simply and concisely. “Why is reading or writing something different from doing something? First consider reading. Reading is (usually) a solitary activity, with no feedback.

2017 221

Charles, Lawrence, David Bowie, and me

Conferences that Work

My first public gig as a musician was at David Bowie’s Beckenham Arts Lab. Read the full article at Conferences That Work.

Should presenter contracts include a no brown M&Ms rider?

Conferences that Work

Van Halen ‘s 1982 World Tour performance contract contained a provision calling for them to be provided backstage with a bowl of M&Ms from which all the brown candies had been removed.

Six ways to keep attendees comfortable and improve your event

Conferences that Work

While stuck in cramped seats during a six-hour Boston to San Francisco flight recently, my wife gently pointed out that I had become quite grumpy. She helped me notice that my lack of body comfort was affecting my mood.

How to inspire transformational learning

Conferences that Work

Why do some learning experiences stay burning in our brains and others fade into oblivion? Read the full article at Conferences That Work.

Lessons From Improv: Seeing the Gifts in People and Events

Conferences that Work

Thoughts triggered while rereading Patricia Ryan Madson’s delightful, straightforward, and yet profound improv wisdom. Ooh, this is a hard one for me, but it’s so important for anyone working in the meeting profession. “I can look at a person or event from three vantage points. To see what’s wrong with it ( the critical method commonly used in higher education). Using this lens the self looms large. To see it objectively ( the scientific method ).

2018 145

The tragedy of wasting valuable meeting time having experts presenting to “learners”

Conferences that Work

Ask attendees why they go to meetings and their top two responses are to learn and connect. Remember kids that ask a question, and when you answer it they say “why?” ” “Why can’t we go outside?” ” “Because it’s raining.” ” “Why?” ” “Well, water’s coming out of the sky.” ” “Why?” ” Be that annoying kid for a moment and ask: “Why do you want to learn and connect?”

2018 164

Adrian Segar Speaker Tips Interview

Conferences that Work

After a one-day Participate! workshop for Dutch professional moderators, I was interviewed by Otto Wijnen about speaker and presentation tips for making presentations more effective by incorporating active learning.

To build connection and engagement at events — give up control!

Conferences that Work

How can we build connection and engagement with people with whom we work? My wise consultant friend Naomi Karten tells a short story about a client’s unexpected reaction.

2017 250

Why meetings are more important than you think

Conferences that Work

As 2017 begins, take a moment to think about meetings in a wider context. OK, a very wide context. “Who am I?” ” We’ve all wondered about some form of this question.

2017 252

Create Powerful Meetings Instead of Power-over Meetings

Conferences that Work

All meetings incorporate power relationships that fundamentally affect their dynamics and potential. Traditional conferences unconsciously promote and sustain power imbalances between the “speakers” at the front of the room and the audience.

Three ways to create truly surprising meetings

Conferences that Work

CoffeeGate One sunny morning in 2105, two hundred of us arrived for the opening breakfast at a Canadian conference to discover There Was No Coffee. The young first-time volunteer staff had forgotten to brew it. Three days later, people were still grumbling about CoffeeGate. I’ll bet that even today, if you asked attendees what they remembered about the event, most would immediately recall the There Was No Coffee moment. A memorable moment, yes, but not a good one.

Three ways to make it easier for attendees to participate

Conferences that Work

How do we get people to participate at meetings? We know that participants — people who are active learners — learn more, retain more, and retain more accurately than passive attendees. They are also far more likely to make valuable connections with their peers during the event.

2017 234

Help Wanted—Venues for my participation techniques workshops!

Conferences that Work

The success of my last request for workshop help has inspired me to ask for more.

2016 255

When event covenants collide—a story

Conferences that Work

I was facilitating a one-day workshop for 24 college presidents. At the start, we agreed to follow six covenants , including the freedom to ask questions at any time , and a commitment to stay on schedule.

2016 259

The two must-do steps to hire the best professional help

Conferences that Work

When you need professional help, how do you select the best professionals? Countless experts — such as accountants, plumbers, doctors, lawyers, and meeting planners — will take your money in exchange for advice or services.

2017 236

Five reasons NOT to use a Conferences That Work meeting design

Conferences that Work

I’ve been promoting the Conferences That Work meeting format for so long, that some people assume I think it’s the right choice for every meeting. Well, it’s not. Here are (drum roll!)

One reason I like science fiction

Conferences that Work

The other day I was rereading Idoru by William Gibson , and the following passage spoke to me. It’s a conversation between two teenagers: Chia McKenzie from Seattle who is visiting Mitusko Mimura in Japan in the near future… Mitsuko was getting her computer out. It was one of those soft, transparent Korean units, the kind that looked like a flat bag of clear white jelly with a bunch of colored jujubes inside. Chia unzipped her bag and pulled her Sandbenders out. “What is that?”

2018 149

Avoid this common mistake when planning meeting programs

Conferences that Work

Although I have good reasons to champion meeting designs where the participants get to choose what they want and need to discuss and learn rather than a program committee , there is invariably a place for some predetermined presentations at conferences.

2017 206