Table of Contents for Conferences That Work

by Adrian Segar

Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love

About the Author




Part I: Reengineering the Conference

What is a Conference?
How we got here
Face-to-face versus online
Able Masters
Education as gardening
Conference process = Elementary school process
Traditional conference = training
Sponsorship distortion
Conference form

What are Conferences For?
Meeting and connecting with peers
Establishing and increasing professional status
Maintaining professional certification
Conferring legitimacy
Issue activism
Building community

What’s Wrong with Traditional Conferences?
Four assumptions of a traditional conference
Pre-determined content
Predicting what attendees want—and getting it wrong
Uncovering the unexpected
Hot topics—that aren’t
The case for pre-determined content
The new kid on the block: making connections at a traditional conference
Beginnings and endings
Size matters
Saving graces

Reengineering the Conference
Why is reengineering a traditional conference hard?
The program trap
Who’s in charge?
How many attendees?
Satisfying the desire for connection with others
Opening to possibilities
De-emphasizing status
Increasing transparency
Ensuring timeliness and relevance
Breaking down barriers between attendees
Publish-then-filter, not filter-then-publish
Providing relevant content
Comparisons with other non-traditional conference formats
Avoiding session conflicts
Delivering relevant, accessible content with a peer conference

The Peer Conference Alternative
Definition, assumptions, end goals, and process goals
What subject and how long?
An introduction to peer conference process
A community of learners
An environment for taking risks
Ask, don’t tell
Rich interpersonal process
Flattening hierarchy
Creating community
The key to getting important questions asked—answering attendee meta-questions
Combining peer and traditional conference sessions

The roundtable
The end of the beginning

Middles – the “Meat” of the Peer Conference
Preparing for peer sessions
Topic suggestion
Peer session signup
Peer session determination and scheduling
Running peer sessions

How to end a conference?
The personal introspective
The group spective


Part II: Planning and Preparing For Your Peer Conference


How to Start Making Your Conference a Reality
Forming a steering committee
Group culture, leadership, and your steering committee
Working with volunteers

The Steering Committee in Action
Steering committee meetings
How to meet?
The first steering committee meeting
Steering committee tasks
Determining your audience
Conference timing: start, end, and duration

Choosing a Conference Site
Using a professional conference venue
Using a non-traditional conference venue
Finding a non-traditional conference venue
Minimum and desired site requirements

The Conference Site Visit
What to bring on a site visit

Food and Refreshments

Determining the Conference Program
Peer conference programs
How long should sessions last?
Getting from one session to the next
Traditional conference sessions
Some thoughts about entertainment
Model conference schedules

Marketing Your Conference
Marketing a peer conference
What’s in a name?
How to reach potential attendees
Promoting your conference
Conference promotion considerations
Marketing materials examples

Budgeting and Accounting
Budget building principles
Conference start-up funding
Building the expense side of your conference budget
Evaluating your conference financial feasibility
Fine-tuning your conference expense budget
Vendor exhibit budgeting
Setting conference registration fees
Budget review and monitoring
Sample budgets

Vendor Exhibits
Should you include a vendor exhibit?
Overview of the vendor coordinator’s job
Soliciting vendors
Organizing the vendor exhibit space
Program implications of a vendor exhibit
Other pre-conference vendor exhibit considerations

Providing Attendee Information: Paper Versus Online

Pre-Conference Tasks
Using wikis to plan and document your conference
Promotional conference items
Pre-conference registration
Preparing for the vendor exhibit
Pre-conference site preparation
Pre-conference attendee preparation
Assigning remaining conference tasks
Take a breather!

Part III: Running Your Peer Conference


Pre-Conference Preparation
Preparing conference signage
Setting up on-site registration
The conference face book
Preparing the vendor exhibit area
Initial conference seating
Roundtable set-up
Preparing for peer session signup
Preparing for peer sessions
Steering committee pre-conference meal

Attendee Arrival
Greeting arriving attendees
Running on-site registration

Running Your Conference
Conference facilitation
Starting and staying on time
The opening session—the big picture
Describing the conference format
The roundtable session
Peer session signup
Determining and scheduling peer sessions
Running peer sessions
Other tasks during the conference
Care and feeding of vendors
The personal introspective
Giving thanks
The group spective

After the Conference
Post-conference tasks
Preparing for the next conference


Appendix 1: The Four Freedoms

Appendix 2: Peer Session Signup Sheet

Appendix 3: Peer Session Signup Instructions

Appendix 4: Peer Session Primer Handout

Appendix 5: Peer Session Facilitation Handout

Appendix 6: Roundtable Questions Card

Appendix 7: Peer Session Attendance Sheet (no permissions)

Appendix 8: Peer Session Attendance Sheet (with permissions)

Appendix 9: Personal Introspective Questions Card

Appendix 10: Minimum Room Dimensions for Roundtable and Closing Sessions

Appendix 11: Sample Conference Evaluation Form for Fixed Sessions

Appendix 12: Sample Conference Evaluation Form for Peer Sessions