Welcome To
Conferences That Work
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 improve their 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.

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Peer Conference In Action

Recent Peer Conference Calendar Additions

  • 21 Sep 2016 - 24 Sep 2016: FinCon peer conference for personal finance media, San Diego.
    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:
  • 06 Oct 2016 - 07 Oct 2016: 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
  • 16 Nov 2016 - : National Council of State Supervisors for Languages Workshop: Creating interactive, peer-led conferences and workshop sessions, Boston Convention Center, 415 Summer St, Boston, MA 02210.
    Adrian will lead a workshop on creating interactive, peer-led conferences and workshop sessions, for 200 education agency personnel from across the United States who have the responsibility of foreign/world language education at the state level.

For more upcoming events >>>>


From The Blog:

August 29, 2016

Event design is not just visuals and logistics

I love David Adler‘s creativity, support, drive, ingenuity, and enthusiasm. The first time I met him—at the premier EventCamp in 2010—he immediately purchased my just-published book, sight unseen. The following year, David was kind enough to honor me in his flagship publication BizBash as one of the most innovative event professionals. Whenever I’ve had the pleasure of meeting David (not often enough!) he has proved to be a continual source of great ideas and encouragement, as well as a masterful conversationalist.

However, one recurring theme in David’s magazine irritates me, because it perpetuates a common misconception in the events industry.

BizBash consistently uses the term “event design” to mean “visual design”.

As an example, consider the 2016 Design Issue. The cover proclaims “What’s Next in Event Design?”

BizBash Design Issue cover

The sixty pages of this issue concentrate exclusively on visual and F&B ideas and treatments. While its article “8 Fresh Faces of Event Design 2016” says it is about “industry newbies who dream up and create an event’s visuals as opposed to those that handle the logistics like a planner”, this really misses the point.

Event process design determines the logistics and visuals we use. Logistics and visuals are secondary issues that support the primary design choices we make.

First decide what your event is designed to dowhat you want to happen during it—and then determine appropriate logistics and visuals that support and enhance the process design.

There is nothing in the 2016 BizBash Design Issue that explores the heart of event design: what will happen at the event? As I’ve written elsewhere, we are so steeped in traditional process rituals that society has used for hundreds of years—lectures, weddings, business meetings, galas, shows, etc.—that we don’t question their continued use. These forms are essentially invisible to us and previous generations because they have been at the heart of social and professional culture for so long.

But when someone takes time to reexamine these unquestioned forms, startling change becomes possible. Here are three examples:

1 — The world of weddings
In 2009, Jill and Kevin created the JKWeddingDance for their Big Day, and the traditional Western wedding was enriched forever.

2 — Elementary Meetings
Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver’s book “Into the Heart of Meetings” contains numerous examples of using Elementary Meeting metaphors to discover new congruent meeting forms.

3 — Conferences That Work
Finally, my own contribution. Re-imagining a conference as a participant-driven and participation-rich event, rather than a set of lectures, increases effective learning, participant connection, and individual and organizational change outcomes far above what’s possible at traditional passive broadcast-style meetings.

Prolonging the misconception, as BizBash implicitly does, that meeting design is principally about sensory design is slowing the adoption of fundamental and innovative process design improvements that can significantly improve our meetings. Instead, let’s broaden our conceptions of what meeting design is. Our work and industry will be the better for it—and our clients will appreciate the results!

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Testimonial

Fantastic!…One of the first books that really talks about design aspects in a whole new way.

— Janet Sperstad, CMP, Program Director, Meeting and Event Management, Madison College
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