To build connection and engagement at events — give up control!

How can we build connection and engagement with people with whom we work?

My wise consultant friend Naomi Karten tells a short story about a client’s unexpected reaction. Frank had a bad experience with an earlier information technology project, so Naomi’s team gave him three possible approaches to a major system design and a list of the pluses and minuses of each.

“The plan was to let him select the approach he preferred in hopes that he’d gain more trust in us as a result…”

“…Frank jumped up, shouted, ‘How dare you develop options without my input!’ and marched out of the room…”

“…Instead of his seeing the options as giving him a say in our efforts, he may have seen us as preventing his input into the very idea of options. We saw ourselves giving him some control. He may have seen us as taking it away.”
—Naomi Karten, The Importance of Giving Others a Sense of Control

At traditional conferences, attendees choose from predetermined sets of sessions chosen by conference organizers. Think about your experience of such events. Have you found that much of the time, none of the choices supply what you actually need and/or want? Sadly, we’re so used to this state of affairs, we accept it as normal.

Conferences don’t have to be designed this way. Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve discovered that peer conferences, where participants determine the choices, provide a much better fit between the wants/needs of the attendees and the conference program they construct on-the-fly. This leads to significantly greater connection, engagement, and satisfaction.

Sometimes, giving people a limited number of options is not enough. Giving up control over the choices at your conferences by handing it over to the participants — using proven process, of course —is one of the best ways to build trust, connection, and engagement at your events.

Photo attribution: Flickr user kt

Buy my new book—The Power of Participation—before July 1 at never-to-be-repeated prices

I’m happy to announce that my new book—The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action—will be available for purchase in all formats and outlets on June 30. But you can save money by purchasing directly from me before July 1 at never-to-be-repeated prices.

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The Power of Participation front cover square“This is a book that should be OPEN on every meeting planner’s or event marketer’s desk, and used every day.”
—Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing, Oracle (many more embarrassingly good reviews below)

Smart presenters and meeting organizers are integrating experiential learning and peer connection into their events. This book tells you how to do it. Buy The Power of Participation to learn why it’s so important to incorporate participant action into every aspect of your event, what you need to know to create a meeting environment that supports and encourages participation, and when and how to use this extensive compendium of specific, detailed techniques to radically improve your sessions and meetings.

The following prices for The Power of Participation are only available before July 1. On that date, this page will vanish like a dream.

Thirty minutes free consulting will be provided for any first-time purchase directly from this site.

Shipping paperbacks to U.S. addresses is included in these prices. Shipping paperbacks to addresses outside the United States will incur an additional cost, viewable for single copies once you have added items to your cart.

Table of Contents

Read five free chapters

Combo (Best Deal!)
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Paperback
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Ebook
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OR you can pre-order paperback copies (unsigned) online from Amazon’s U.S. store for $27.95 plus shipping (will ship July 1).

Praise for The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action.

“It may be a radical idea to turn attendees into participants, but in an environment of information overload and disconnection, we need it more than ever. The Power of Participation can transform how we act as workers, learners, citizens and ‘participants’ in our globalized world. This is a book that should be OPEN on every meeting planners or event marketers desk, and used every day.”
—Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing, Oracle

“This book is a must for anyone who needs guidance in modernizing meetings. Finally we are moving into a new stage of post industrial meetings where all participants are valued, not only those behind the microphone. Well designed participation is key, and Adrian shows us the way. Buy it, read it and do it!”
—Eric de Groot, Meeting Designer and co-author of Into the Heart of Meetings

“No one should plan a conference without this book!”
—Naomi Karten, Author of Managing Expectations

“We have to start meeting like this! A treasury of proven techniques, clearly written, based on first-person experience and deep insights.”
—Bernie DeKoven, Author of The Well Played Game, game designer, and fun theorist at deepfun.com

“Too many conferences are top-down, over-caffeinated, information dumps. Adrian Segar has figured out a different model: a participatory, community-driven event that yields benefits that last far beyond the conference itself. If you want to make a lasting difference with your group today, you owe it to yourself to read this book.”
—Dr. Nick Morgan, President of Public Words and author of Power Cues

“Love The Power of Participation! It’s a fabulous compilation of techniques to bring more interaction to your conferences. I’ll be keeping this reference book handy whenever I design a meeting for a client.”
—Kristin J. Arnold, CPF, CSP, founder of Quality Process Consultants, and past president of the National Speakers Association

“A must read handbook of the what, why and how to move passive conference consumer-based attendees to active engaged participants.”
—Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

“Adrian Segar’s work is crucial for the evolution of the event industry. This book is a mandatory read for the modern event professional. Adrian shares a logical approach to changing our outdated event designs, and guides you with practical techniques towards a value centered model, where the clear winners are both the conference organizer and the attendee. It’s time to shake up our conferences and make them more relevant and attractive. The Power of Participation provides the first step towards achieving conference success.”
—Julius Solaris, editor EventManagerBlog.com and author of The Event App Bible, Social Media for Events and The Good Event Registration Guide

“Adrian wants to transform attendees into participants. And in this book, he shows you how to do it. As an organizer of professional conferences for the past decade, I wish I had come across Adrian’s books earlier in my life. It would have made me more confident and competent.”
—Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan, Founder and Resident Mad Scientist, the Thiagi Group

“Adrian Segar’s The Power of Participation is a catalog of tools for designing meetings. If you want to improve your meetings, keep a copy right there on your desk, always ready for instant access. Better yet, study the tools in his catalog so they’re right there in your brain, always ready to build first-class meetings that everyone loves.”
—Gerald M. Weinberg, The Consultants’ Consultant, author of over 40 books, including classics The Psychology of Computer Programming and An Introduction to General Systems Thinking


The Power of Participation: Creating Conferences That Deliver Learning, Connection, Engagement, and Action
Publisher: Segar Consulting
Release date: ebook: June 2015 | paper book: June 2015
Page count: 322
Size: 8½ x 11
ISBN:978-1511555982
List Price: $27.95 (Paperback book) | $13.95 (PDF ebook) | $33.95 (Paperback book and PDF ebook combo)
The ebook and paperback/ebook combo are available only directly from the author.

Upcoming #eventprofs chat with author Naomi Karten

Although I’m the #eventprofs Twitter community manager, I don’t usually mention our weekly  Twitter chats on this blog. But I’m making an exception for next Thursday’s chat (12-1pm EDT), because I’m such a fan of our special guest: Naomi Karten.

[Full disclosure: Naomi was a key influence in persuading me that I had something worth saying in print, which led to my first book: Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love. I owe her a big debt for that. And she also co-facilitated, with Jerry Weinberg, my 2002 Problem Solving Leadership workshop, from which I learned so much.]

Naomi is an incredible presenter (she has spoken internationally to more than 100,000 people), specializing in customer satisfaction, managing change, strengthening teamwork, and improving communication and presentation skills. She has published eight books, including the classic “Managing Expectations: Working with People Who Want More, Better, Faster, Sooner, NOW!” which will be a focus of our hour together.

So please join me and Naomi on Thursday (12-1pm EDT) as we explore with you how to work with difficult clients (who may think of us as difficult too!) to create win-win business relationships.

To be reminded of this and upcoming #eventprofs Twitter chats, follow @epchat on Twitter. A schedule of upcoming chats is always available on the #eventprofs wiki. And here’s a great explanation of how to participate in Twitter chats.