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>>>>

  • May 05 2014 - May 07 2014: HealthCare Leadership Summit 2014, Burlington, VT.
    The HealthCare Leadership Summit offers participants the opportunity for rich face-to-face conversations with industry colleagues representing a variety of stakeholder groups being impacted by healthcare reform. Adrian is designing and facilitating this entire event.
  • Jun 08 2014 - Jun 10 2014: Howard Hughes Medical Institute Lab Management Network of Professionals LMNOP 2014, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, Virginia.
    The inaugural HHMI Lab Management Network of Professionals (LMNOP) peer conference at Janelia Farm Research Campus.  HHMI labs are spread out all over the country.  For the first time, we are coming together to discuss topics impacting our labs using Adrian Segar's Conferences That Work f
  • Jun 23 2014 - Jun 26 2014: edACCESS 2014, .
    The 22st annual peer conference for information technology staff at small schools. Adrian will facilitate the entire event.
  • Jun 30 2014 - Jul 04 2014: Caux Conference: Caux dialogue on land and security, The Caux Centre, Caux, Switzerland.
  • Jul 05 2014 - Jul 10 2014: Caux Conference: Trust and integrity in the global economy, The Caux Centre, Caux, Switzerland.

For more upcoming events >>>>


From The Blog:

April 21, 2014

From broadcast to learning in 25 minutes

GMIC2014 collab session Last week’s Green Meetings Industry Council’s 2014 Sustainable Meetings Conference opened with a one-hour keynote panel: The Value of Sustainability Across Brands, Organizations and Sectors. Immediately after the presentation, my task was to help over two hundred participants, seated at tables of six, grapple with the ideas shared, surface the questions raised, and summarize the learning and themes for deeper discussion.

Oh, and I had twenty-five minutes!

For a large group to effectively review and reflect on presented material in such a short time, we have to quickly move from individual work to small group work to some form of concrete visual summary that’s accessible to everyone. So here’s what I did.

1) My audience hadn’t moved for over an hour, and their brains had, to varying degrees, gone to sleep. So, for a couple of minutes, I had people stand, stretch, twist and do shoulder rolls.

2) Next, I summarized what we were about to do. I

      • Outlined the three phases of the exercise: a) working individually; b) sharing amongst the small group at their table, and c) a final opportunity to review everyone’s work in a short gallery walk.
      • Pointed out the tools available. Each table had a sheet of flip-chart paper (divided into a 2 x 2 matrix), 4 pads of different colored sticky notes, and a fine-tip sharpie for each person.

2014-04-15 14.41.30

      • Explained the four categories they would use for their responses. After introducing each category I asked a couple of pre-primed volunteers to share an example of their response with the participants.
        • REMINDERS. “These are themes with which you’re already familiar that the keynote touched on. You might want to include ideas you think are important. And you might want to include themes that you have some expertise or experience with. More on that in a moment. Write each REMINDER on a separate blue sticky note, which will end up in the top left square of the flip chart.”
        • SPARKS. “Sparks are inspirations you’ve received from the keynote; new ideas, new solutions that you can adopt personally, or for your organization, or at your meetings. Write your SPARKS on yellow sticky notes; they’ll go in the top right square.
        • QUESTIONS. “These are ideas that you understand that you have questions about. Perhaps you are looking for help with a question. Perhaps you think a question brought up by the keynote is worth discussing more widely at this event. Write your questions on a green sticky note; they’ll go in the bottom left square.
        • PUZZLES. “Puzzles are things you feel that you or your organization or our industry don’t really understand and need help with. Write your puzzles on a violet sticky note; they’ll go in the bottom right.”
      • Gave these instructions. “In a minute I’m going to give you about five minutes to work alone and create your REMINDERS, SPARKS, QUESTIONS, and PUZZLES. Don’t put your notes on the flip chart paper yet; we’ll do that communally soon. Any questions?” [There were none.] “Two final thoughts:
        • 1) Words are fine, but feel free to draw pictures or diagrams too!
        • 2) Consider adding your name to any of your notes. We’re going to display your notes on the wall over there. If you have expertise or experience of one of your themes, adding your name to your note will allow others who are interested in the topic to find you. If you have a question or puzzle you need help with, adding your name will allow others who can help to find you.”

3) I gave everyone five minutes to create their individual notes, asking them to shoot for a few responses in each category.

4) For the second phase of the exercise, I asked for each person to briefly explain their notes with the others at their table, placing on the appropriate quadrant of the flip chart as they did so. I allocated each person a minute for this, and rang a bell when it was time for the next person to begin.

5) The final phase was a gallery walk. I asked one person from each table to go and stick their flip chart page on a large blank meeting room wall. Once done, I invited everyone to go to the gallery and explore what we had created together.

Here’s one end of the resulting sharing wall.

2014-04-15 19.06.05

6) Later that evening I had a small number of subject matter experts cluster the themes they saw. (If I had had more time, I would have had all the participants work on this together during my session.) The resulting clusters were referred to throughout the conference for people to browse and use as a resource. Here’s a picture, taken later, showing the reclustered items in our “sharing space”.

2014-04-17 15.08.14

Even when time is short, an exercise like this can quickly foster huge amounts of personal learning, connection (via the table work and named sticky notes), and audience-wide awareness of interests and expertise available in the room. I believe that reflective and connective processes like this should be used after every traditional presentation session to maximize its value to meeting participants.

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

Reading [Adrian Segar's Conferences That Work] blog has made me come to realize that when it comes to meetings, less is very often more. — Jenise Fryatt, http://blog.cvent.com/blog/jenise-fryatt-bio/15-blogs-to-help-you-with-marketing-and-events

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