Welcome To
Conferences That Work
an innovative conference format that reliably builds
highly interactive, participant-led events,
leveraging attendee expertise and experience to
create exactly the conference that participants need and want.

"Simply the most productive conference I've been to."

Are you wondering how to start a new conference of peers who don't know each other well? Do you want to make your current face-to-face conference "can't miss" better, even as more and more content becomes available online? Are your events suffering from falling attendance, evaluations, or profits? I can help!

I'll help you create conferences around the content that your attendees really want and need. Conferences designed to build meaningful, mutually beneficial connections between participants. Conferences that help people work smarter.

I design and facilitate Conferences That Work: innovative, highly interactive, attendee-driven events that leverage attendees' expertise and experience to create just the conference that participants want. If necessary, you can include traditional plenary sessions into this innovative, time-tested format to create an event experience that will delight your attendees.

I'm available for consultation on your conference (re)design, present regularly about participant-led and participation-rich events, and lead interactive workshops on participation techniques anyone can use to improve their conference sessions. I also offer two popular sessions—The Solution Room and The Personal Introspective—that provide powerful opportunities for participants to connect, engage, and learn at your event.

My book, Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love condenses 30 years experience designing, organizing, and facilitating conferences into an information-packed step-by-step guide to a proven design for creating productive conferences that people love.

My next book, working title The Power of Participation, will be a guide to and compendium of participation techniques you can use to increase engagement and learning at any conference session.

Quick Links

An introduction to participant-led events: Demystifying The Unconference.

Named one of the 68 most innovative people in events by BizBash magazine.

How We Learn: The Books That Changed Meetings by Connect magazine.

A Meeting for Attendees, by Attendees by MeetingsNet magazine.

Voted one of the Top 5 Blogs in the Meetings and Events Industry.

Included in Top 10 Event Professionals Worth Knowing on Social Media.

Author of one of CVENT's 5 Favorite Event Industry Blog Posts.

Author of one of 5 Favorite Event Industry Blog Posts.

Planning the Unconference article about my work in Meetings & Conventions Magazine.

23 blog posts and videos about EventCamp EastCoast, a peer conference for event professionals that Adrian organized and facilitated in November 2010.

20 slides x 20 seconds Pecha Kucha talk "Face Your Fear—Change Your Event Design" given at EventCamp Twin Cities, September 2010

Howard Givner's review of EventCamp East Coast.

Peer Conference In Action

Recent Peer Conference Calendar Additions

To report conferences for inclusion in the events calendar >>>>

For more information on learning to hold Conferences That Work>>>>

  • Sep 08 2014 - : United Way Worldwide peer conference training, United Way Worldwide Headquarters, 701 N Fairfax St, Alexandria, VA 22314.
    Adrian will lead a one-day training of United Way Worldwide Global Fellows on how to convene Conferences That Work at their organizations all over the world. This will be preparation for the United Way Worldwide Global Fellows
  • Sep 18 2014 - Sep 20 2014: FinCon peer conference for personal finance media, New Orleans.
    FinCon is a peer conference for personal finance media. 700+ of the best bloggers and financial minds around today participate to connect, learn to create compelling online content, and discover the latest trends in the world of personal finance. FinCon is an annual event with a dual mission:
  • Sep 22 2014 - Sep 24 2014: United Way Worldwide Global Fellows Summit, United Way Worldwide Headquarters, 701 N Fairfax St, Alexandria, VA 22314.
    The United Way Worldwide Global Fellows Summit brings together United Way Worldwide's Global Fellows for a three-day Conferences That Work format meeting, for which Adrian will lead The Solution Room, Personal Introspective, and Group Spective on the last day.
  • Sep 22 2014 - Sep 23 2014: The National Association of Sports Commissions Market Segment Meeting, Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL.
    Adrian will be facilitating the 2014 NASC Market Segment Meeting, helping convention & visitor bureaus and sports commissions share ideas and discuss industry problems. The event design includes The Solution Room, facilitated discussions, a Personal Introspective, and Group Spective.
  • Nov 06 2014 - Nov 07 2014: The 3rd annual Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future Educational Conference, Grand Summit Hotel & Conference Center at the Mount Snow Resort, West Dover, Vermont.
    Vermont Vision conferences provide unique, stimulating learning environments for Vermont leaders on change management models and initiatives that create and sustain environments free of prejudice and discrimination. Our conferences convene practitioners with proven ability achieving goals of multic

For more upcoming events >>>>

From The Blog:

August 27, 2014

How to sell me stuff right

Muster MeLibby O’Malley rocks. I haven’t met her (yet!) but she read my 2012 post A letter to event technology companies trying to sell me stuff and—wow!—actually took the time to figure out how to introduce me to her new product Muster Me in a way I would like.

A vendor who really listens and responds appropriately; how refreshing! Yes, the flattery doesn’t hurt, but Libby clearly made sure that the complaints in my post about the hundreds of event profession product and service pitches I receive each year were addressed.

This is the best product pitch I’ve ever received. Fantastic work Libby!

I am not endorsing her product (though the demo on the website worked fine for me) but I’m happy to reproduce here what she emailed me today, as an example of how to do selling right.

Here’s the text of Libby’s email:


Dear Adrian,

Let the flattery begin: I love everything about your site, Twitter feed, and blog! You are a savvy, delightful writer, and I regularly favorite or bookmark your penning. You are candid, transparent, and generous with your wisdom (and wit)! Please keep up this terrific work as the conference and event world, heck, the whole world needs more of Adrian Segar. Seriously, beyond the flattery, I call ‘em like I see ‘em, and you’re truly fabulous.

As I move forward with one of my two startups (because one onerous, crushing, passionate, entrepreneurial monster isn’t enough, right?), I have regularly tabbed your blog posts and often go back to review them depending on where we are in our startup process. One of my all-time favorite blog posts of yours was an open letter to tech companies pitching you their products … sans pricing. Wait, what?! When I read it, frankly, I was floored that a company would really do that — ask for feedback with no cost data provided??? Don’t these people know that EVERYTHING boils down to economics — purchasing, procreation, love, war?! So, now that our site is “out there” with pricing listed and with a demo that purports to show how Muster Me works, any chance you’d eyeball it and dis (or laud) our pricing?

What Muster Me does is connect a group of people by allowing them to share contact information via text message. There’s no app to download (creating friction and resistance “in the moment”) and Muster Me allows a group to simultaneously share info — and only the specific info they want to share with that group. Remember the app “Bump”? Bump’s flaw were 1) everyone had to have the app in order to participate which never happened and 2) in order for a group to get everyone’s info, you had to “bump” one person at a time (which actually sounds kind of dirty to me). Lastly, you couldn’t tailor the contact info you shared in different settings — it was one-size fits all. That’s no bueno when you’re sharing contact information with different groups and different sorts of people.

Muster Me requires that only one person — i.e. the meeting planner or event organizer — has an account, and then that person announces their assigned text number. Then, participants/attendees simply text whatever info they want to share with others to that number. Shortly thereafter, all participants receive an email neatly organizing all the individuals’ contact information. Voila — contact info shared — quickly, efficiently, neatly.

Our primary market is not large conference groups — we know 500+ “strangers” at a keynote address aren’t likely to share their contact info so readily; however, we think that, at that same large conference, during a breakout session or a narrowly focused workshop conference, folks might want to swap info in order to keep the conversation and connection going post-event. Currently, we also have a handful of event organizers that are using Muster Me (in the subscription format — still in beta) to connect their “team” of event consultants, rather than having everyone dance “The Business Card Shuffle” or pass around a piece of paper at the planning/kickoff meeting trying to capture everyone’s names and emails. (Whatever happens to that piece of paper anyway??) Right now, we’re working with reunion planners (primarily military reunion planners) and also school and family reunion planners because the size of these groups and the “trust” factor seem to be a great fit for Muster Me.

Having provided all this background — and hopefully you’ve read this far, as I know you are BUSY BUSY — your thoughts on the site/product/pricing would be really appreciated. At long last, here’s the link

[A paragraph here offering me more information about how I can check out the product.]

Thank you so much for your consideration of this request, and if I don’t hear back from you, rest assured that I’ll still be hanging on every Tweet and blog post!

All the best and all flattery aside,

Libby O’Malley

Conferences That Work book cover

Thirty minutes free consulting included with book purchase on this site!

Download five free chapters here!

Where To Buy

Purchase eBook ($11), paperback ($26) or both ($32) via PayPal on this site. Signing and U.S. shipping included. Also available at your local bookseller, and online everywhere.

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…the conference format allows a wide variety of groups and individuals to meet and grapple with substantial issues in a way that currently does not exist. — Conference participant

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