Conferences That Work https://www.conferencesthatwork.com Unconferences, peer conferences, participant-driven events, and facilitation Sun, 11 Aug 2019 12:30:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Can a rehearsal be better than a concert? https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/08/rehearsal-better-concert/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/08/rehearsal-better-concert/#respond Mon, 12 Aug 2019 10:26:30 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=15105 Can a rehearsal be better than a concert? You be the judge! Every summer since 1951, the world-famous Marlboro Music Festival takes place my small Vermont hometown. Last week my wife and I attended the free morning rehearsals for two pieces […]

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rehearsal concertCan a rehearsal be better than a concert? You be the judge!

Every summer since 1951, the world-famous Marlboro Music Festival takes place my small Vermont hometown. Last week my wife and I attended the free morning rehearsals for two pieces of chamber music — Mozart’s Horn Quintet and Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 3 — played at the formal concert that afternoon.

The rehearsal

Around twenty-five people showed up in an auditorium that, in a few hours, would be filled with hundreds. We could sit anywhere! Naturally, we chose front row center.

Earlier Festival rehearsals are held in classrooms scattered around the Marlboro College campus. Many years ago, when I taught at the school, I’d wander around during the summer and hear beautiful scattered fragments of music. Auditorium rehearsals are the last before the performance, so they tend to contain long stretches of music, punctuated with only a few pauses and occasional repetitions at the ends of movements.

This rehearsal was no exception. The artists played both pieces through with little interruption. They conferred with each other on stage, but we couldn’t easily hear what they were saying.

After the rehearsal we noticed that several friends were present, and it was easy to stroll over and spend some time chatting.

Rehearsal versus concert

It’s interesting to compare the rehearsal and concert experiences. I think many listeners would agree that rehearsals are primarily about the music, though some rehearsals I’ve attended at other venues have offered fascinating glimpses into the ways in which musicians think and work together.

Concerts are, hopefully, primarily about wonderful performances of great music too, but they are also social events. Sometimes, I admit, I find the social aspects distracting and/or detracting from the performance. Audience coughs, rustling, and occasional clatter are inevitable. Navigating my way through crowds to take my seat, get a drink during intermission, or leave when the concert is over is sometimes irksome.

Paradoxically, we met and chatted with more friends at the rehearsal than we’d probably have at the concert, where it’s harder to physically move near people who you know.

Listening to a breathtaking musical performance with hundreds of others is also a unique experience, with the loud applause and, sometimes, standing ovations emphasizing the depth of feeling that the audience collectively shares and of which you are a part. The rehearsal, in contrast, is a subdued affair, with each audience member individually responding to the music and the performance.

Which is “better”? I’ll leave that as an exercise for you. (Feel free to share your perspective in the comments.)

Final thoughts — a performer’s perspective

For a dozen years I sang tenor with the Brattleboro Concert Choir. This involved many weekly rehearsals, followed by just two or three public performances. Like all musicians, we spent far more time rehearsing than performing.

As a performer I learned the wisdom of a mantra that has stood me in good stead over the years — after I slowly and painfully acquired it. “Process not product!” The frustrating, time-consuming, and taxing process of learning your part in a majestic piece of music and working to sing it really well with others is valuable in itself. Though there is the bonus of finally performing publicly to an appreciative audience, I did not spend my time and effort to be rewarded with applause. I rehearsed mightily because I love to sing for or with others. That, as an amateur musician, is sufficient reward.

Photo attribution: Mitsuko Uchida & Jonathan Biss from Marlboro Music 

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Goodbye Quicken 2007 – Hello SEE Finance! https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2019/08/quicken-see-finance/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2019/08/quicken-see-finance/#respond Mon, 05 Aug 2019 10:12:18 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=15096 I have switched my personal finance software from Quicken 2007 to SEE Finance. For twelve years, I used the venerable Quicken 2007 to manage my personal finances; a lifetime for software these days. Later Quicken versions never matched the functionality of […]

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Quicken SEE Finance

I have switched my personal finance software from Quicken 2007 to SEE Finance. For twelve years, I used the venerable Quicken 2007 to manage my personal finances; a lifetime for software these days. Later Quicken versions never matched the functionality of the 2007 version, which has consequently remained extremely popular.

But software platforms constantly change, and Intuit recently announced the functional death of Quicken 2007 in two ways: one that can be worked around, and one that really can’t. First, Intuit pointed out that the 32-bit software will not run on future 64-bit versions of macOS. If you don’t upgrade macOS (or keep a machine to run Mohave or an older version) Quicken 2007 can still be used. But the game changer for me is Intuit’s announcement that “Due to a security and reliability update from the service provider, the ability to download transactions will no longer work in Quicken 2007, regardless of your macOS version”.

It’s unclear exactly what “update” Intuit is referring to. Regardless, there was no way I was going back to the days when I had to manually enter security prices, and bank and credit card transactions.

So I needed new personal finance software.

My search for personal finance software

I spent a few days reading reviews and comparing features of current personal finance software. My must-have features included:

  • Runs on an Apple Macintosh and looks like a Mac app
  • Can import my historic Quicken 2007 data (~50,000 transactions!)
  • Downloads bank and credit card transactions from the financial institutions I use
  • Updates security prices
  • Allows customization of the information shown in account registers
  • Includes memorized repeated transactions
  • Provides adequate financial reports
  • Allows me to choose where I store my data, so I can access it anywhere from my desktop or laptop Macs
  • Rock solid reliability
  • As responsive as Quicken 2007

One feature I didn’t need is built-in online bill paying. I use my bank’s service, or the online payment scheduling that most businesses offer today.

Hello SEE Finance!

After checking out options that included Moneydance and subscription-based Quicken for Mac, I installed a thirty-day free trial of SEE Finance 2, and never looked back.

SEE Finance 2 imported all my Quicken 2007 transactions flawlessly, even highlighting a few discrepancies I’d overlooked over the years. The OFX (think Microsoft Money) one-step update of prices and account transactions works better for me, and for more accounts than Quicken 2007 ever did. Online account updating is outstanding: one-click updates all security prices and brings in new transactions from all linked brokerage, bank, and credit card accounts.

I have bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, mutual funds, individual investments, and some assets — all handled without problems. It took me a little while to understand how SEE Finance reconciles accounts, but I now find the process intuitive. The program is very fast and has been rock solid. And I am rapidly adjusting to the new interface after all these years of muscle memory Quicken 2007 data entry.

The program handles multiple currencies and budgeting, which might be great features for some, but I don’t need them. The developer also offers an IOS version for $4.99 (!), but it only works if your data is stored in iCloud. My free iCloud storage is fairly full, so I prefer to use my paid Dropbox account to store my 200MB data file plus the backups SEE Finance makes.

I think the only thing I will probably miss is Quicken 2007’s extensive reporting capabilities. I haven’t fully explored the reporting in SEE Finance yet, but it looks adequate for my needs, though there may be some minor gaps.

Currently, you can buy SEE Finance 2 for $39.99 US “for a limited time”. Unlike the current Quicken for Mac, no subscription is needed.

I have no connection with the developer, Scimonoce Software; I’m just, so far, a happy customer!

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The workshop that wasn’t https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/07/not-a-workshop/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/07/not-a-workshop/#respond Mon, 29 Jul 2019 10:32:01 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=15074 Last week, my friend Traci B wrote to me about a workshop that wasn’t. “You’ll love this…I went to a 4 hour morning workshop at this digital conference. The speaker said, this will be interactive because no one wants to […]

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workshop that wasn'tLast week, my friend Traci B wrote to me about a workshop that wasn’t.

“You’ll love this…I went to a 4 hour morning workshop at this digital conference. The speaker said, this will be interactive because no one wants to listen to me talk for four hours. He then proceeded to talk for 4 hours!

I did learn stuff and it prompted some ideas, but imagine how much better they might stick if it actually was a workshop. Also, he polled people in the audience and asked who was B2B [business-to-business] and who B2C [business-to-consumer]. 90 percent of the room was B2B…his presentation was almost all B2C.”

Sadly, experiences like this are far too common. Speakers (and the folks that concoct conference programs) decide to jazz up the description of a broadcast-style session by calling it a workshop.

The dictionary definition of a workshop is: “a seminar, discussion group, or the like, that emphasizes exchange of ideas and the demonstration and application of techniques, skills, etc.”.

Workshops that are

Obviously, the lecture Traci had to endure wasn’t a workshop. Genuine workshops include significant, frequent, and appropriate work by participants, guided by leaders. The leaders typically have significant content-specific experience. However, they also need adequate facilitation skills to guide the group through the session’s activities.

Some workshops are better described as trainings, where the participants are novices and the leader supplies the vast majority of the content and learning environment. However, most workshops I’ve led included professionals with significant skills and experience.

Customizing a workshop

When running such sessions, it’s important to customize the workshop in real time to meet the actual wants and needs of the participants, rather than plowing through a predetermined agenda that may be partially or largely irrelevant.

This did not happen at Traci’s event!

“Also, adapting your presentation isn’t tagging on “it’s the same for B2B” after every example…cause it’s not.”

Skilled leaders know to uncover the wants and needs of participants at the start of the session, and use the information to build a workshop that’s optimized for the attendees.

This sounds more difficult than it usually is. Preparation involves having a broad set of potential content, techniques, and skills to cover. Then, during the session, the leader concentrates on the wants and needs the attendees have initially shared, adjusting the time spent on each area to match the expressed interest.

One final suggestion

If a presenter (like me) is actually running a workshop, please don’t insist on calling them a speaker! In my experience, attendees prefer well-designed workshops to almost any other session format. Tell them the session is a workshop. They’ll appreciate the information (and likely the session too)!

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What I remember from high school — and why https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2019/07/high-school-memories/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2019/07/high-school-memories/#respond Mon, 22 Jul 2019 10:34:21 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10416 High school feels like a dream. Fifty years later, few distinct memories remain. I’ve only stayed in touch with one friend from those days, so there’s almost no reinforcement from reviewing and remembering the past. And yet there are some […]

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high school memoriesHigh school feels like a dream. Fifty years later, few distinct memories remain. I’ve only stayed in touch with one friend from those days, so there’s almost no reinforcement from reviewing and remembering the past. And yet there are some experiences that still retain power. Let’s look at three and explore why they endure.

Mr. Crooke’s holes

We knew almost nothing personal about our high school teachers. So I was surprised one day when our physics teacher, Mr. Crooke, told us that during World War II he had helped to develop some of the earliest rockets. His job was to figure out the best fin designs. This was long before the days of computer simulations (or computers for that matter), so Mr. Crooke experimented by drilling holes in the fins and then firing the rockets to see how straight they flew.

This captured our schoolboy imaginations, and for the next few weeks “Mr. Crooke’s holes” were a frequent topic of conversation.

I liked physics class because we did actual experiments and it offered the possibility of understanding the strange and confusing world in a rational way that seemed comforting to me. But this unexpected personal story cut through the dry presentations of facts that filled most of my childhood education, and it stuck.

Mr. Crooke told us that one of his rockets was displayed in the London Science Museum. Fifty years later, I spent a day at the museum. I examined every rocket, but, sad to say, couldn’t find the one with Mr. Crooke’s holes.

The biology class I’ll never forget

In class one day I was asked to publicly announce my score on a ten-question biology pop quiz. “Six” I said, and I heard loud gasps. The class of twenty-three students was shocked. I was supposed to be smarter than that. Although it has lost its emotional impact, I still remember the shame I felt at that moment.

In my school, the unspoken classroom rules were do what the teachers tell you and don’t make mistakes. Transgressions were followed by public shaming.

It took me many years to realize how much my education environment relied on shame. Because the emotional cost is high, it’s a rotten way to motivate learning.

Inventing an electric bicycle

Back to my physics class. (Hey, I became a physicist.) One day Mr. Crooke gave us a homework assignment for the week: design something that involved physics. I remember having a hard time thinking of something that would actually work. The evening before the assignment was due, I thought of inventing an electric bicycle.

Although there are some Victorian era patents for electric bikes, they were never mass-produced until recently. I certainly had never seen one when I invented mine. I remember drawing a bicycle with an electric motor bolted on, connected by a chain to the rear wheel. The battery was mounted on a little platform behind the bike. The details of the controls were conveniently omitted.

It amuses me that, thanks to the development of powerful lightweight batteries, my fanciful and impractical “invention” in the 1960’s has become the commonplace e-bike of today.

High school memories

These high school memories of mine have endured because they all include an emotional component of one kind or another. We may learn wondrous facts in school, but it’s the stories, experiences, and associated feelings that trigger memories that live on.

Is that true for you?

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Becoming Brave https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/life-lessons/2019/07/becoming-brave/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/life-lessons/2019/07/becoming-brave/#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 10:40:52 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=13939 The past It’s been a long journey becoming brave. Fifty years ago, I was a teenager who, after a single embarrassing moment, gave up dancing in public. For forty years. Twenty-five years ago I was a college professor who spent hours […]

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becoming brave

The past

It’s been a long journey becoming brave.

Fifty years ago, I was a teenager who, after a single embarrassing moment, gave up dancing in public. For forty years.

Twenty-five years ago I was a college professor who spent hours preparing classes, fearful that students would ask me a question I couldn’t answer. And when I started convening and speaking at conferences I was scared of being “on stage”, even in front of small audiences.

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Squaring the circle: creating room sets for connection https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/07/squaring-the-circle-creating-room-sets-for-connection/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/07/squaring-the-circle-creating-room-sets-for-connection/#respond Mon, 08 Jul 2019 11:05:51 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=14912 Meeting planners typically default to squaring the circle when specifying room sets. They persist in seating attendees in long straight lines whenever possible, ignoring the benefits of curved and circular seating at their events. (See Paul Radde’s Seating Matters: State […]

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Meeting planners typically default to squaring the circle when specifying room sets. They persist in seating attendees in long straight lines whenever possible, ignoring the benefits of curved and circular seating at their events. (See Paul Radde’s Seating Matters: State of the Art Seating Arrangements for more information.)

The architecture of assembly where curved theatre seating dominates, teaches us otherwise. And we all know that the most intimate and useful small group conversation and connection occurs around round tables. (Even though many of the rounds used at meetings are far too large.)

I’ve explained the importance of curved seating and large circle sets in detail in my book The Power of Participation (Chapter 13), so I won’t reiterate its value here. Instead, I’m going to answer a common dilemma faced by my clients: what to do when there isn’t enough room for large circle sets at a venue.Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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Event design changes society https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/07/event-design-changes-society/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2019/07/event-design-changes-society/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2019 10:24:01 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=14449 Event design may be more important than you think. I’m going to argue that event design changes society. And I’ve got legendary communications theorist Marshall McLuhan and computer scientist Alan Kay on my side! User Experience and Interface Design My inspiration […]

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Event design changes societyEvent design may be more important than you think. I’m going to argue that event design changes society. And I’ve got legendary communications theorist Marshall McLuhan and computer scientist Alan Kay on my side!Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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My new book Event Crowdsourcing will be released this Fall https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/marketing-2/2019/06/event-crowdsourcing-released-fall/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/marketing-2/2019/06/event-crowdsourcing-released-fall/#respond Mon, 24 Jun 2019 18:00:28 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=14683 Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need I’m happy to announce that my third book Event Crowdsourcing will be released this Fall. It covers a fundamental yet neglected topic: creating meetings people actually want and need. My research has shown […]

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"Event Crowdsourcing" release this Fall
Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need

I’m happy to announce that my third book Event Crowdsourcing will be released this Fall. It covers a fundamental yet neglected topic: creating meetings people actually want and need.

My research has shown that over half the sessions offered at traditional preplanned conferences are not what attendees actually want! Event crowdsourcing allows you to create meetings where attendees want and need every session.

Who should buy this book?

    • Are you a meeting planner/designer who wants to create the best possible meetings for your clients? Then you need this book!
    • Are you a presenter who knows the importance of meeting the wants and needs of your audience? Session crowdsourcing ensures that your sessions will reflect the real-time needs of those who attend.
    • Are you a conference stakeholder eager to grow an event by making it the very best it can be? When attendees are enthusiastic about your event because it meets their wants and needs, they recommend your event to their peers and return year after year. As a result, your event grows, continually adapting to the changing desires of your participants, and your event and organization communities strengthen over time.
    • Are you an attendee who tires of events full of irrelevant pre-planned sessions? Event crowdsourcing ensures that you will be enthusiastic about the content and value of events and sessions.

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I am the second sort of escapologist https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/facilitation/2019/06/i-am-the-second-sort-of-escapologist/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/facilitation/2019/06/i-am-the-second-sort-of-escapologist/#respond Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:00:49 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=14662 I am the second sort of escapologist. “I read once that the first time they put an escapologist in a tank of water, he or she will have one of two reactions, and which one determines the course of their […]

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the second sort of escapologistI am the second sort of escapologist.

“I read once that the first time they put an escapologist in a tank of water, he or she will have one of two reactions, and which one determines the course of their life.

The first sort of escapologist is an ordinary person who has come to the trade organically, by whatever curious sequence of opportunity and happenstance—and that sort will panic. There is very little that is more appallingly unnatural or frightening than being lowered, bound, into a confined space containing an atmosphere you cannot breathe. … Some people just never go back in the tank. … Some get right back in and they master their fear and they go on to be as good as their skill allows. These last are most compelling to watch.
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]]> https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/facilitation/2019/06/i-am-the-second-sort-of-escapologist/feed/ 0 Two free easy ways to create graphics for blog posts and presentations https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2019/06/best-free-ways-create-graphics/ https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2019/06/best-free-ways-create-graphics/#respond Mon, 10 Jun 2019 10:29:17 +0000 https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=14302 Here are what I think are the two best free easy ways to create graphics for blog posts and presentations if you’re not a graphics wonk. (Note: I am not a graphics wonk.) I’ve written over five hundred posts on […]

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free easy ways to create graphicsHere are what I think are the two best free easy ways to create graphics for blog posts and presentations if you’re not a graphics wonk. (Note: I am not a graphics wonk.)

I’ve written over five hundred posts on this blog over the last ten years. As they tell you in SEO School, every post has at least one image. I often find an appropriate image on the web, but sometimes I feel inspired to create a graphic that fits better.

In addition, I frequently present at meeting industry events and to clients. Good presentation graphics can really help communicate what I’m trying to say, and strengthen my message.

Are you also “not a graphics wonk”?

I think there are a lot of people like me who have difficulty easily creating even simple graphics. My problem is that I simply don’t use “professional” graphics creation tools enough to be able to reliably memorize the variety of techniques, tools, and processes needed to speedily turn what I visualize into reality.

My graphic designer, whom I happily hire for complicated stuff, can quickly create perspective drawings, remove unwanted photo elements, and tone down someone’s bright clothing. For me, attempting any of these things takes a few hours on the web figuring out how, and making lots of mistakes along the way. The next time (if ever) I want to repeat the process I’ll have likely forgotten how to do it.

Graphic design software like Photoshop and Illustrator — kitchen-sink tools that can do almost anything — are overwhelming for me. What I need is software that:

  • Allows me to easily work with and position images and vector graphics.
  • Has easy to use, intuitive methods for duplicating, manipulating, aligning, and spacing graphic elements.
  • Provides a text tool and a simple palette of basic graphic shapes.
  • Includes object grouping to speed up repetitive graphic element duplication.
  • Can easily add drop shadows to objects.
  • Includes a gallery of my existing work, allowing me to create a new graphic from an old one.
  • Can export anything I create as a jpeg.
  • Doesn’t include a ton of extra capabilities I’ll never master and therefore never use.

If these sound like your needs too, read on! (Also, I’ve included two great additional resources at the end of this post.)Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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