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:

September 1, 2014

A powerful question: Whom is your event for?

Who is conference for

A fundamental question frequently arises when I receive initial requests for conference or meeting designs, because it’s often not clear whom the event is expected to benefit:

Whom is your event for?

A powerful way of thinking about events emerges from answering this question.

Here are three constituencies that could be components of your answer:

  1. Individual participants.
  2. Organizations.
  3. Culture.

(The third, Culture, is the best word I can think of to represent societal patterns and beliefs: i.e. forms that are followed. Not strictly a “whom”, but still a powerful force that needs to be included.)

Looking through this lens leads me to the Venn diagram above, which I think is an interesting way to view different kinds of meetings. You may quibble about the definitions and boundaries of the event types plotted—feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Four quick observations:

  • It’s surprising how nicely most common event types fall  into one of the seven combinations of the three constituencies. One exception is what I call “client conferences” which can be predominantly for an organization’s benefit (e.g. “in order to qualify to sell our products you must attend this conference”) or for both the organization’s and clients’ benefit (e.g. “learn how to sell our products better and let’s all make more money”).
  • In my work, I sometimes see tension between the needs of the organization and those of the participants. Part of my approach to event design is to make events win-win for both.
  • I can’t think of any events that are purely “for” culture. People or organizations always seem to have to be involved. (Though perhaps The Long Now or a burial of time capsules are rare exceptions?)
  • Feel free to add religious events wherever you think appropriate. I’m not going there.

I see this formulation as a work in progress, so your comments, additions, and corrections are especially welcome!

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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Testimonial

Peer-led is a great method for practical learning. No agenda, no “axe to grind”, nothing to sell. This allows the conversation to steer toward useful information sharing. And, there were excellent folks leading these sessions. — Conference evaluation

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