Conferences that Work

Any questions? Rethinking traditional Q&A

Conferences that Work

How often have you heard “Any questions?” ” at the end of a conference session? Hands rise, and the presenter picks an audience member who asks a question. The presenter answers the question and picks another questioner. The process continues for a few minutes. Simple enough.

2019 340

Why switching to active learning is hard — and worth it

Conferences that Work

A September 2019 research study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences clearly illustrates why switching to active learning is hard — and worth it! Lecturing has been the core modality in our education systems for centuries.

2019 247

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Are science conferences stuck in the Dark Ages?

Conferences that Work

A recent Wired article argues that “ Science Conferences Are Stuck in the Dark Ages “ Unsurprisingly, I agree — but there’s some light in the darkness! Read the full article at Conferences That Work The post Are science conferences stuck in the Dark Ages?

2020 156

You can’t make people change. But…

Conferences that Work

“You can’t make people change. But you can create an environment where they choose to.” ” —Seth Godin, Leadership. Change is hard. And you can’t make people change. However, meetings have tremendous potential to change lives.

2019 234

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.

Give meeting-goers many options!

Conferences that Work

Today’s meetings need to give meeting-goers many options, not just a few. But this doesn’t mean filling the conference program with every conceivable session topic. To be enjoyable and productive, meetings need white space : free time for attendees to do what they want and need to do.

2019 156

Q&A with Adrian Segar on Crowdsourcing

Conferences that Work

This (slightly edited) interview by JT Long appeared in the March 2019 issue of Smart Meetings Magazine. What led to writing the book, Conferences that Work ?

2019 271

Two free easy ways to create graphics for blog posts and presentations

Conferences that Work

Here are what I think are the two best free easy ways to create graphics for blog posts and presentations if you’re not a graphics wonk. Note: I am not a graphics wonk.) I’ve written over five hundred posts on this blog over the last ten years.

2019 244

Power in hotel rooms done right!

Conferences that Work

I’m reposting this simple idea for power in hotel rooms from a Facebook post by my friend Kristin Arnold. “Finally!! A smart hotel that put plugs on the head of the bed frame! Way to go Renaissance Atlanta concourse !”

Hotels 254

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.

2018 303

Effortlessly Interact with an Entire Audience from Any Location

1,000 Participants. 75 Locations. 1 Solution.

Why you should hire curious people

Conferences that Work

Why should you hire curious people? Because the future of work belongs to the neo-generalist. And neo-generalists are intensely curious. Here’s Harold Jarche, explaining the importance of generalists: Wicked problems need neo-generalists. Neo-generalists defy common understanding.

2019 156

Make your entire conference a braindate

Conferences that Work

Why not make your entire conference a braindate? One of Skift’s “ 10 event trends for 2020 ” is networking. The report predicts: “Activities such as braindates that deliver more meaningful connections will become mainstream at events.”

What I remember from high school — and why

Conferences that Work

High school feels like a dream. Fifty years later, few distinct memories remain. I’ve only stayed in touch with one friend from those days, so there’s almost no reinforcement from reviewing and remembering the past. And yet there are some experiences that still retain power.

2019 224

The top educational meeting format

Conferences that Work

What’s an Ideal Meeting? April 2018, Meetings and Conventions Magazine Do you incorporate participatory sessions into your events?

Many “experiential” events are just razzle-dazzle

Conferences that Work

Beware of “experiential” events that are just razzle-dazzle. “Experiential” has become a buzzword to use to describe hip events. Instead of listening to speakers, you’re going to have — wait for it — experiences ! Sounds so much better, doesn’t it?

2018 274

How to facilitate a community discussion using fishbowl

Conferences that Work

What’s the best way to facilitate a community discussion? Recently, I had to answer that question at short notice. My task: design and facilitate a two-hour community discussion in response to a bombshell announcement made by the largest employer in my tiny rural hometown of Marlboro, Vermont.

2019 156

The first hill is the hardest

Conferences that Work

At the age of 67, after returning from a meditation retreat , I started running daily for the first time in my life. And I soon learned that the first hill is the hardest. Beginnings. It was summer, and I had no idea what I could do. So I began by exploring without expectations.

2019 156

The workshop that wasn’t

Conferences that Work

Last week, my friend Traci Browne wrote to me about a workshop that wasn’t. “You’ll love this…I went to a 4 hour morning workshop at this digital conference. The speaker said, this will be interactive because no one wants to listen to me talk for four hours.

2019 208

Introduction to my new book Event Crowdsourcing

Conferences that Work

Here’s a teaser: the introduction to my new book Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need. Interested? Then buy the book ! Curiosity. I’ve always been curious. I’ve always wanted to understand the world I found myself living in.

2019 198

Facilitating change: The power of sharing our experience

Conferences that Work

Sharing our experience of others directly with them can be incredibly powerful. Let me tell you a story…. Not long ago, I was working at a multi-day workshop with a 6-person group that included someone I’ll call D.

2019 185

We are biased against truly creative event design

Conferences that Work

We are biased against creativity. Though most people say they admire creativity, research indicates we actually prefer inside -the-box thinking.

Event design changes society

Conferences that Work

Event design may be more important than you think. I’m going to argue that event design changes society. And I’ve got legendary communications theorist Marshall McLuhan and computer scientist Alan Kay on my side!

When association leadership loses its way

Conferences that Work

Is it OK for a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit association to make large profits, pay its four top executives well over $1M per year, and yet do little for its members?

2018 264

Five Reasons to Change Conferences

Conferences that Work

Here’s my article “ Five Reasons to Change Conferences “ , published in the December 2018, NSA Speaker magazine.

2018 254

Handling a meeting question that isn’t

Conferences that Work

We’ve all experienced the meeting question that isn’t. A session presenter or moderator asks for questions and someone stands up and starts spouting their own opinions. A concluding question (if they even have one) is little more than an excuse for their own speech.

2019 246

Stay on time!

Conferences that Work

Stay on time! Though it’s clearly sensible to keep a conference running on schedule, we’ve all attended meetings where rambling presenters, avoidable “technical issues”, incompetent facilitation, and inadequate logistics have made a mockery of the published program.

2019 225

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 267

27 years of peer conferences

Conferences that Work

Good things come in threes. Though I usually overlook anniversaries, I noticed one this morning. The first peer conference I convened and designed was held June 3 – 5, 1992 at Marlboro College, Vermont.

David Adler BizBash Live interview: the best formats for live experiences

Conferences that Work

At BizBash Live DC , BizBash CEO and Founder David Adler and I took the stage at the Ronald Reagan Building for a wide-reaching interview on the best formats for live experiences in front of an invited crowd of several hundred meeting professionals.

2019 156

Squaring the circle: creating room sets for connection

Conferences that Work

Meeting planners typically default to squaring the circle when specifying room sets. They persist in seating attendees in long straight lines whenever possible, ignoring the benefits of curved and circular seating at their events. See Paul Radde’s Seating Matters: State of the Art Seating Arrangements for more information.) The architecture of assembly where curved theatre seating dominates, teaches us otherwise.

2019 192

Scenes from a Participate! Workshop and Solution Room

Conferences that Work

[link] 40-seconds of highlights from the Participate! workshop and Solution Room I recently facilitated for the New York State Bar Association.

2018 245

Improve meetings by de-emphasizing old-school status

Conferences that Work

You can improve meetings by de-emphasizing status. Apart from my first book , I haven’t written much about status at events. It’s time to revisit this important topic. I think about status at events as the relative levels of proclaimed or perceived social value assigned to or assumed by attendees.

2019 229

Three differences between genuine and phony experiential conferences

Conferences that Work

“Experiential” is the new hot adjective used to describe events. “No more listening to speakers; you’re going to have experiences !” ” Sadly, many of these so-called experiential events are phony. The promoters slap a novel environment (e.g.,

I am crazy… but I’m not alone!

Conferences that Work

“I am crazy but I’m not alone.” ” —participant evaluation comment. Someone wrote “I am crazy but I’m not alone” on the paper evaluation form for the first edACCESS peer conference in 1992.

2019 170

Event Crowdsourcing free chapters!

Conferences that Work

Want to get a taste of my new book Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need ? (It It will be out in November — next month!) Here are some Event Crowdsourcing free chapters for your enjoyment. Read Event Crowdsourcing free chapters.

2019 156

Why I love conference facilitation and design

Conferences that Work

Here’s an example of why I love conference facilitation and design. After setting up a Personal Introspective this morning (25 minutes) I turned over what happens to the small groups. Watch the listening and involvement of every person as I weave my phone through the circles of chairs.

Leadership for meetings

Conferences that Work

What might leadership for meetings look like? Let’s turn to Harold Jarche for inspiration: “Those doing the work are often the only ones who really understand the context. Leadership is helping build the structure and then protecting the space to do meaningful work.

My new book Event Crowdsourcing will be released this Fall

Conferences that Work

Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need I’m happy to announce that my third book Event Crowdsourcing will be released this Fall. It covers a fundamental yet neglected topic: creating meetings people actually want and need.

2019 190

When association leadership loses its way

Conferences that Work

Is it OK for a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit association to make large profits, pay its four top executives well over $1M per year, and yet do little for its members?

2018 237