Conferences That Work http://www.conferencesthatwork.com Unconferences, peer conferences, participant-driven events, and facilitation Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:40:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 The interpersonal dynamics of silent retreats http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/06/the-interpersonal-dynamics-of-silent-retreats/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/06/the-interpersonal-dynamics-of-silent-retreats/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:40:41 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10479

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  1. Participation techniques you can use in conference sessions Here’s the summary handout for my workshop on participation techniques you can use in conference sessions that I’ll be leading at MPI’s World Education Congress 2011. Sources for additional information...
  2. The Solution Room—an introductory video The talented graphic facilitator Kristine Nygaard of Kiss the frog, whom I had the recent pleasure of meeting at FRESH 2013, has created a delightful one-minute video that introduces The Solution Room, a...
  3. The Solution Room—a powerful conference session There’s been a lot of interest in The Solution Room, a session that I co-facilitated last July at Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Orlando, Florida. It is one...
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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 full article at Conferences That Work

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Design your meeting BEFORE choosing the venue! http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/06/design-your-meeting-before-choosing-the-venue/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/06/design-your-meeting-before-choosing-the-venue/#comments Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:56:31 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10445

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  3. Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! Want to see my 6 minute 40 second Pecha Kucha presentation Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! given at EventCamp Twin Cities on September 9, 2010? If so, download...
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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 full article at Conferences That Work

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Create Powerful Meetings Instead of Power-over Meetings http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/06/create-powerful-meetings-instead-of-power-over-meetings/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/06/create-powerful-meetings-instead-of-power-over-meetings/#respond Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:32:31 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10410

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  2. The Solution Room—a powerful conference session There’s been a lot of interest in The Solution Room, a session that I co-facilitated last July at Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Orlando, Florida. It is one...
  3. A birthday present for you on the 21st anniversary of Conferences That Work What a long strange trip it’s been The first Conferences That Work event was held June 3–5, 1992, at Marlboro College, Vermont. If you had told me then that the...
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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 full article at Conferences That Work

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Reassuring news for event professionals from WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/eventprofs/2017/05/reassuring-news-for-event-professionals-from-willrobotstakemyjob-com/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/eventprofs/2017/05/reassuring-news-for-event-professionals-from-willrobotstakemyjob-com/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 19:27:43 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10419

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Reassuring news for event professionals from WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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Six ways to keep attendees comfortable and improve your event http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/05/six-ways-to-keep-attendees-comfortable-and-improve-your-event/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/05/six-ways-to-keep-attendees-comfortable-and-improve-your-event/#comments Mon, 29 May 2017 10:15:05 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10347

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  1. The Solution Room—a powerful conference session There’s been a lot of interest in The Solution Room, a session that I co-facilitated last July at Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Orlando, Florida. It is one...
  2. What I learned about event professionals at EventCamp East Coast One of the reasons I love to facilitate Conferences That Work is that I get to learn interesting things about the culture of the participants. Whoever they are—young developing leaders,...
  3. Ask Me Anything About Event Production—Today! (June 30, 4-6pm EDT) Today (June 30) from 4 – 6 pm Eastern Daylight Time I’m hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) about Event Production with A/V production professionals Brandt Krueger, Christopher De Armond,...
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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 full article at Conferences That Work

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22 great iPhone/iPad apps for event professionals http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2017/05/22-great-iphoneipad-apps-for-event-professionals/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2017/05/22-great-iphoneipad-apps-for-event-professionals/#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 10:01:43 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10285

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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 full article at Conferences That Work

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Practice what you teach http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2017/05/practice-what-you-teach/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2017/05/practice-what-you-teach/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 10:09:23 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10151 No related posts. ]]>
When I’m presenting and sharing my conviction that experiential learning is far superior to broadcast learning, it would be pretty hypocritical for me to lecture. It would also be pretty ineffective. As Stephen Jenkinson says:

“…when expressed properly, teachings don’t function as symbols or metaphors…they are an incarnation of what they are advocating.”
—Stephen Jenkinson, On How We Deny Our Mortality, The Sun Magazine

“Teachings are an incarnation of what they are advocating.” I’m glad to see that this point of view is being championed in the educational community , under the rubric of recursive practice, and I hope to see a wider awareness of its importance as the years pass.

In the meantime, if you come to one of my workshops or presentations you won’t find me talking to you uninterrupted for more than five to ten minutes max. That’s how I practice what I teach.

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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A new kind of association service — Open Collective http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/a-new-kind-of-association-service-open-collective/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/a-new-kind-of-association-service-open-collective/#respond Mon, 08 May 2017 10:44:45 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10266 No related posts. ]]>

A new association service, Open Collective, offers an intriguing way to raise funds and provide radical financial transparency to members.

I like to think of an association as a group of people with a shared mission, the incarnation of a community of practice. Open Collective supports communities of practice like meet ups and open source developers that can benefit from an open administrative and financial structure, but the service could be used by any association that wants to outsource fund raising and offer financial transparency on how funding is raised and spent.

Here’s how it works.

Fund raising
Open Collective makes it easy to request funds for specific activities or goals (example). You can quickly create a sharable link to the request, which can be one-time or monthly. Flexible donation tiers allow you to create named donation levels, like “backers” or “sponsors” and feature them appropriately on your website. You can also sell tickets to events (currently in beta).

One interesting feature allows an umbrella organization to empower local or networked chapters/projects to raise money and have their own budget, without having to open a separate bank account for each one.

Financial transparency
Unpaid expenses and available funds can be seen by all members (example). Definable (and changeable) core members can approve or reject submitted expenses (example). Anyone can see the money flow in and out of the organization.

Cost
From the website: “Open Collective takes 10% of the money raised by the collective for managing bookkeeping, taxes, and admin (fiscal sponsorship), as well as providing your Open Collective page and the software it runs on. We share this commission with the fiscal sponsor (legal owner of the bank account that holds the money on behalf of the collective). Additionally, our payment processors charge a fee, usually 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.”

This seems reasonable, though it’s not clear how the commission sharing works. The non-profit service Network for Good charges a 5% administrative fee (which includes payment processing charges) for donations, but Open Collective offers many more services than just accepting donations.

More information
As I write this, Open Collective is supporting over two hundred organizations with a combined annual budget of over half a million dollars, and you need to apply to join; it’s not automatically open to anyone who signs up. A two-part article by one of the founders (formerly cofounder/CEO of Storify.com) offers a useful summary of the history and philosophy of Open Collective.

What I think
For the first ten years of its existence, a non-profit association edACCESS I co-founded in 1991 was run informally under the auspices of another non-profit. Because the group was committed to transparency right from the start (our books were always open for anyone to see) Open Collective would have been very helpful for managing edACCESS’s finances.

While a structure like this isn’t appropriate for every non-profit, I think the service offers a novel approach to supporting communities that want to be financially transparent. It could be especially useful for localities that want to support citizen-created collectives using shared infrastructure (example: the city of Brussels). If it fits for you, Open Collective is well worth investigating.

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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How to become one with your association’s strategic goals http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/how-to-become-one-with-your-associations-strategic-goals/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/how-to-become-one-with-your-associations-strategic-goals/#respond Mon, 01 May 2017 11:03:14 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10200

Related posts:

  1. Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! Want to see my 6 minute 40 second Pecha Kucha presentation Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! given at EventCamp Twin Cities on September 9, 2010? If so, download...
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No, I’m not suggesting you rise at 5 a.m. and recite your association’s strategic plan as your daily morning mantra. But I’d like you to try this simple test:

How many of your association’s strategic goals can you recall right now?

(No cheating! And not the easy bits about your vision, mission, who you serve, or your programs and services — just your goals!)

I’ll wait…

Was that a little embarrassing? You’re not alone — when I tried this recently, I was pretty embarrassed too!

Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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How to change an organization’s culture http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/facilitating-change/2017/04/how-to-change-an-organizations-culture/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/facilitating-change/2017/04/how-to-change-an-organizations-culture/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:10:07 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10176

Related posts:

  1. Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! Want to see my 6 minute 40 second Pecha Kucha presentation Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! given at EventCamp Twin Cities on September 9, 2010? If so, download...
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Is it possible to transform dysfunctional corporate culture like that of United Airlines into the employee engagement of Southwest or the indifferent customer service at Kmart into the customer-first approach of Wegmans?

After over thirty years working with organizations, I think that it’s possible to change organizational culture — but it’s far from easy.

First, many organizations are in denial that there’s any kind of problem with their culture, and getting leadership to think otherwise is an uphill or hopeless battle.

Second, if an organization does get to the point where “we want to change our culture”, there’s rarely an explicit consensus of what “needs to be” or “might be” changed.

Third, culture is an emergent property of the interactions between people in the organization, not a linear consequence of deeply buried assumptions that can be challenged and “treated” in isolation. Prescriptive, formulaic approaches to culture change, are therefore rarely if ever successful.

Finally, organizational culture self-perpetuates through a complex web of rules and relationships whose very interconnectedness resist change; even if you have a clear idea of what you want to do, there are no uncoupled places to start.

So, what might we be able to do? For concise advice, I recommend Chris Corrigan‘s excellent article The myth of managed culture change. Read it!

In particular, this excerpt caught my eye:

“Culture is an emergent set of patterns that are formed from the interactions between people. These patterns cannot be reverse engineered. Once they exist you need to change the interactions between people if you want to change the patterns.”
—Chris Corrigan, The myth of managed culture change

This is why process tools like those included in The Power of Participation are so important. Imposed, top down culture change regimes attempt to force people to do things differently, a process that Chris describes as “cruel and violent”. Participation process tools that allow people to safely explore interacting in new ways allow organizations to transform through the resulting emergent changes that interaction tools facilitate and support.

Image attribution: Animated gif excerpt from “Lawyers in Love” by Jackson Browne

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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