The Conference Arc — the key components of every successful participation-rich conference

Traditional conferences focus on a hodgepodge of pre-determined sessions punctuated with socials, surrounded by short welcomes and closings. Such conference designs treat openings and closings as perfunctory traditions, perhaps pumped up with a keynote or two, rather than key components of the conference design.

Unlike traditional conferences, participant-driven and participation-rich peer conferences have a conference arc with three essential components: Beginning, Middle, and End. This arc creates a seamless conference flow where each phase builds on what has come before.

Participant-driven and participation-rich peer conference designs improve on traditional events. They don’t treat openings and closings as necessary evils but as critical components of the meeting design.

Let’s examine each phase of the peer conference arc in more detail.

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The parallel missions of journalism and participant-driven and participation-rich events

The parallel missions of journalism and participant-driven and participation-rich eventsWhile musing about Facebook’s recent changes to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people” over content from media and brands, Jeff Jarvis coins a new definition of journalism:

“…convening communities into civil, informed, and productive conversation, reducing polarization and building trust through helping citizens find common ground in facts and understanding.”
Jeff Jarvis, Facebook’s changes

That sounds a lot like the mission of the participant-driven and participation-rich events I’ve been championing for so long. Journalism can’t provide the connective power of face-to-face meetings. But its potential for helping individuals and communities build trust and find common ground is worthy and welcome.

Image attribution: Nectar Media

An introduction to Conferences That Work


An introduction to Conferences That Work.

Simon Waddell‘s ten minute video interview of me at EIBTM 2012. How Conferences That Work were developed, why they are growing in popularity, and the problem of getting meeting owners to buy into participant-driven events.