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Why 2017 is a tipping point for Twitter

July 17th, 2017 by Adrian Segar

Something is happening to Twitter, but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?

I started tweeting 8 years ago. Though I didn’t know it at the time, Twitter would turn out to be the most important way for people to discover my work and for me to connect with thousands of kindred souls all over the world who share my specialized interests. Over time, Conferences That Work grew into a website with ten million page views per year.

But as 2016 drew to a close I noticed that something was changing in the Twitter world. Here’s a graph of my follower count over time: Read the rest of this entry »

The meeting industry’s biggest dirty secret

July 10th, 2017 by Adrian Segar

There are some things that the meeting industry doesn’t like to talk about in public. For example:

But our biggest dirty secret is so embarrassing, we don’t even talk about it in private. Read the rest of this entry »

The end of decent paid jobs and the need for basic income

July 3rd, 2017 by Adrian Segar

In the summer of 1970 I had a cool teenager vacation job: writing computer programs for a trucking company in downtown Los Angeles. After I finished coding a new report, my boss asked me to share it with the employees of a small department. As I told the fifteen people there what I had done, I saw their reactions as they and I realized that my monthly report replaced what they had manually been doing for a paycheck.

I felt terrible about the consequences of my work, and angry with my boss who knew exactly what would happen and made me the unwitting messenger of bad news. I never found out the consequences of my innocent programming, but stories like this have been repeated countless times over the last fifty years. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy to Seize the Throne from King Content

June 26th, 2017 by Adrian Segar

Honored to be included on MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list, which “recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways”. Here’s the description of my “quest to topple outdated models, including the one based on the idea that ‘content is king’.”

Making Change
I’ve spent 25 years working on changing outmoded mindsets about what we should be doing in meetings. Historically, topics had to be determined in advance, the meeting format was mainly lecture and did not encourage interaction, and content was king. To stay effective and relevant today, meetings must:

  • Respond to what participants actually want and need to learn
  • Adapt to the reality that we primarily learn from our peers rather than experts
  • Provide appropriate opportunities to connect with relevant peers in the sessions around content

And it is changing. The meetings industry is far more aware of the importance of treating and supporting attendees as active participants rather than passive consumers of education. You see this in the increasing number of industry articles about good meeting process, the rise of the term “meeting design” being applied to the group process we use in sessions as opposed to, say, F&B or production design.

I don’t take full credit, of course, for these changes, but I feel proud to have been an instigator and passionate promoter of them through speaking, and authoring Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love and The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action. I also moderated the #eventprofs Twitter chats for several years, and until recently, ran the weekly #Eventprofs Happy Hour Hangout for meeting professionals.

What’s Next
I am now writing another book with the working title of The Little Book of Event Crowdsourcing, and I’m starting to offer workshops where meeting professionals, designers, and stakeholders can learn first-hand about the power of the participatory techniques I’ve written about and use. And I continue to design and facilitate meetings, which is perhaps the most effective way to change mindsets: exposing participants to what meetings can be like when you adopt a participant-driven and participation-rich approach.

Best Business Advice
One of my mentors, Jeannie Courtney, taught me to trust my intuition and helped me see the power and joy that is possible when I respond to opportunity rather than what I used to think of as taking a risk by trying something new—and scary. Like much of my most important learning, that change of perspective happened experientially, rather than from a piece of advice.

Got a Spare Hour?
I would do yoga and meditation if I haven’t yet fit them into my day. I like to read a wide variety of nonfiction, mysteries, and science fiction. And I am active in my local nonprofit communities—I’ve been running or on the board of multiple associations continuously for over 30 years.

The interpersonal dynamics of silent retreats

June 19th, 2017 by Adrian Segar

Can meetings where no one says a word exhibit significantly different interpersonal dynamics? After completing my third Vipassana silent meditation retreat (this one at the headquarters of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts), I’m gonna say: yes they can!

Read the rest of this entry »

Design your meeting BEFORE choosing the venue!

June 12th, 2017 by Adrian Segar

I love my meeting design clients, but there is one mistake I see them making over and over again.

Clients invariably ask me to help design their meeting after they’ve chosen a venue! Here’s why they do it, and why it’s a mistake. Read the rest of this entry »

Create Powerful Meetings Instead of Power-over Meetings

June 5th, 2017 by Adrian Segar

All meetings incorporate power relationships that fundamentally affect their dynamics and potential. Traditional conferences unconsciously promote and sustain power imbalances between the “speakers” at the front of the room and the audience. Such events invoke a version of power Tom Atlee calls Power-over: “the ability to control, influence, manage, dominate, destroy, or otherwise directly shape what happens to someone or something”.

People often tolerate this form of power on their lives (or seek to wield it) because they hold an underlying belief that when you lose control everything turns to chaos. Meeting stakeholders and planners typically subscribe to this viewpoint because they can’t conceive of (usually because they’ve never experienced) a form of meeting that successfully uses a different kind of power relationship: Power-with. Read the rest of this entry »

Reassuring news for event professionals from WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com

May 31st, 2017 by Adrian Segar

Reassuring news for event professionals from WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com

Six ways to keep attendees comfortable and improve your event

May 29th, 2017 by Adrian Segar

While stuck in cramped seats during a six-hour Boston to San Francisco flight recently, my wife gently pointed out that I had become quite grumpy. She helped me notice that my lack of body comfort was affecting my mood. Luckily for me, Celia remained solicitous and supportive, reducing my grouchiness, and once we were off the wretched plane my spirits lightened further.

Unfortunately, I tend to be oblivious for a while of the effects of physical discomfort on my feelings. Until I notice what’s really upsetting me, I typically and unfairly blame my irritability on innocent culprits, for example:

  • The tediousness of gardening because insects are swarming around my head.
  • The delay in waiting for my food to arrive in a noisy restaurant.
  • A presenter’s inability to capture my full attention while I’m sitting with my neck twisted permanently towards him in an auditorium.

I suspect I’m not alone in these errors of judgment. Pivoting to the world of events, this means if we want to give attendees the best possible experience, we need to minimize the quantity and severity of physical comfort issues that are under our control.

Here are six common mistakes you’ve probably experienced, together with suggestions for mitigating their impact. (Feel free to add more in the comments below!) Read the rest of this entry »

22 great iPhone/iPad apps for event professionals

May 22nd, 2017 by Adrian Segar

App_Store

Two years have passed since the last update of my favorite iPad/iPhone apps for event professionals. Apps continue to be born, evolve, and, sometimes, die—so it’s time for my latest list of event professionals’ great apps! Read the rest of this entry »

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Dear conference organizers…I beg you, please sign up for one of Adrian’s workshops. Your attendees will thank you. It will be the best investment you make all year…perhaps well into the future as well.

— Traci Browne
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