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 334

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 243

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 156

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!

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.

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 189

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 270

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 246

Becoming Brave

Conferences that Work

The past It’s been a long journey becoming brave. Fifty years ago, I was a teenager who, after a single embarrassing moment, gave up dancing in public. For forty years.

2019 156

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.

Effortlessly Interact with an Entire Audience from Any Location

1,000 Participants. 75 Locations. 1 Solution.

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

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 182

I am the second sort of escapologist

Conferences that Work

I am the second sort of escapologist. “I read once that the first time they put an escapologist in a tank of water, he or she will have one of two reactions, and which one determines the course of their life. The first sort of escapologist is an ordinary person who has come to the trade organically, by whatever curious sequence of opportunity and happenstance—and that sort will panic.

2019 188

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 267

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 219

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.

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 247

Private government

Conferences that Work

As someone who loves to facilitate connection between people, I was struck by this New Yorker profile of the philosopher Elizabeth Anderson.

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 238

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.

2019 196

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 256

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.,

2019 210

How to improve your facilitation: an example

Conferences that Work

How can you improve your facilitation practice? Here’s an example that illustrates what I do: a mixture of continual improvement , lifelong learning , and Kaizen. An example from The Solution Room I’ve been facilitating The Solution Room , a popular plenary session, for 8 years.

2019 175

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.

2019 214

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 223

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

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 260

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 236

Struggling to meditate daily

Conferences that Work

For three months now, I’ve meditated for twenty minutes every day. Personally this is a big deal, as I’ve struggled to maintain a regular meditation practice for decades. I’ve resolved countless times to meditate daily, and fallen off the mindfulness wagon over and over again.

2019 190

The job you’ll be doing in the future hasn’t been invented yet

Conferences that Work

“The job you’ll be doing in the future hasn’t been invented yet. ” This is old news. The story of my professional life 1977: I earn a Ph.D. in applied elementary high-energy particle physics. Get a post-doc position and move to the United States. Work at major U.S.

2019 175

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 231

Liberating Structures 1-2-4-All has a big problem

Conferences that Work

While Liberating Structures include many useful ways to improve meetings and organizations, one of the “simplest” offered — “ 1-2-4-All ” — has a big problem. It claims to uncover a group’s “important ideas” in just twelve minutes.

2019 166

Aim to serve rather than please

Conferences that Work

Although I’m simultaneously overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the thousands of books and videos about “leadership” pumped out every year, a recent quote struck a chord: “You’ll do more good if you aim to serve more than you aim to please.” ” — S.

AlphaZero, machine learning, and the future of work

Conferences that Work

Not long ago I wrote about the end of decent paid jobs and the need for basic income. A startling recent advance in machine learning has only heightened my concerns.

2019 192

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.

Making large scale change happen

Conferences that Work

I recently came across some principles for “ making large scale change happen “ I think they’re worth sharing. Here’s the text version: Read the full article at Conferences That Work The post Making large scale change happen appeared first on Conferences That Work.

2019 183

Bringing people together across divides

Conferences that Work

How can we bring people together across divides? In April 2017, I posted the following to the NCDD-DISCUSSION list. (

2019 181

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 223