Welcome To
Conferences That Work
Design and facilitation of
innovative conference formats that reliably
build 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."

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 you wondering how to successfully start a new conference? Are your events suffering from falling attendance, evaluations, or profits? I can help!

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

For over 25 years I've been designing and facilitating Conferences That Work: innovative, highly interactive, attendee-driven events that leverage attendees' expertise and experience to create just the conference that participants want. If desired, you can include traditional plenary sessions to create an event experience that will delight your attendees.

I consult on your conference (re)design, facilitate entire conferences, individual sessions, and session crowdsourcing, present regularly about participant-led and participation-rich events, and lead interactive workshops on participation techniques anyone can use to fundamentally improve their meetings and conference sessions.

I also offer three popular sessions—The Solution Room, The Personal Introspective, and The Group Spective—that provide powerful opportunities for participants to learn, connect, engage, and reflect at your event.

My 2009 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 latest book, The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action, is a comprehensive guide to participation techniques that increase learning, connection, engagement, and outcomes at any conference session.

Contact me today to set up a consultation.

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Peer Conference In Action

Recent Peer Conference Calendar Additions

  • 09 Feb 2017 - 11 Feb 2017: The Second Annual Meeting Design Practicum, Barcelona, Spain.
    Adrian will be presenting at the Second Annual Meeting Design Practicum, an invitational event for meeting designers from around the world.
  • 20 Mar 2017 - 21 Mar 2017: Adrian workshop: Techniques for Turning Meeting Attendees Into Participants, Catalyst Ranch, 656 West Randolph Street #3W, Chicago, IL 60661.
    Adrian brings his expertise to the Midwest for this 1½ day workshop, a unique opportunity for you to: — learn how to make your conferences and conference sessions far more engaging and effective; — gain powerful meeting design insights; — significantly increase participation and satisfa
  • 25 Oct 2017 - 28 Oct 2017: FinCon peer conference for personal finance media, Dallas, TX.
    FinCon is a peer conference for personal finance media. 1,000+ 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:

For more upcoming events >>>>

From The Blog:

January 23, 2017

Avoid this PayPal refund gotcha!

I’ve been an active and satisfied PayPal user for fifteen years and [crosses fingers] have not yet had any problems with the service. But I just experienced a gotcha! that could have easily overdrawn my PayPal-tied bank account. Luckily, I had a large enough balance at the time and no harm resulted, but I’m sharing what happened and how you can prevent the same thing happening to you.

A client had paid for his spot in one of my upcoming workshops, but needed to cancel shortly afterwards. He had paid me 900 euros (almost a thousand dollars) so I issued him a full PayPal refund from my euro balance. (Yes, PayPal accounts can work with multiple currencies, which is convenient when you are providing services internationally and your clients want to pay in local currencies.)

When you issue a full refund in PayPal, the company refunds your full variable transaction fee, but not the fixed portion of the fee. For transactions in the US, that’s a mere $0.30. For refunds on international transactions it’s higher, due to currency conversion issues. But the gotcha! I’m about to share is not restricted to international transactions; it can occur for any kind of refund.

Here’s the gotcha! My euro PayPal balance wasn’t quite large enough to cover the refund. I assumed that PayPal would zero out my euro balance and then take their small fixed fee out of my US dollar balance or my bank account.

Wrong! A few days later I scanned my online bank statement and discovered that PayPal had taken the entire refund out of my bank account, which now had a thousand dollars less in it than I’d thought! The euro balance was untouched.

Why did this happen? Here’s a PayPal FAQ on refunds with the crucial paragraph outlined:

{If you can’t read this, it says “If your PayPal account balance does not have enough money in it, the entire refund will be issued from the primary bank account linked to your PayPal account — here’s a link to the FAQ How do I issue a full or partial refund?}

Before I found this FAQ, I thought PayPal had made a mistake. I opened a case at the Resolution Center, which, to make a long story short, was a complete waste of time. So I called PayPal (888-221-1161), something I’ve never done before. It took about 25 minutes on hold, which is apparently not unusual, but the service rep I eventually spoke to explained what had happened and, unexpectedly, said she would issue a refund to make up the difference in the currency loss I would incur in turning my euros back into dollars. Sure enough, a ~$50 credit quickly appeared in my account once I’d zeroed out my euro balance — good service!

So how can you prevent this from happening to you? Simply, before making a refund ensure that your PayPal balance is large enough to completely cover it! This may require you to add a relatively small amount to the balance to cover the non-refundable fixed fee. Do this and you’ll avoid the possible financial consequences of an unexpectedly overdrawn bank account.

Hope this helps some folks. I’ve heard plenty of angry stories about PayPal over the years but have been fortunate to have none of my own. Feel free to share your own experience in the comments below.

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I feel I have found a community of peers who see the whole picture and are willing to help one another and our institutions to progress. It is a model much needed in the educational community (and in society at large).

— 2004 conference attendee, Conference evaluation
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