How do you review the book of a friend and professional associate? Well, it depends. You can go the honest and open route or the reserved and little details route. We’re going to go the honest and open route when we review Adrian Segar’s “Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love.” Last August without reading the book, we blindly wrote the article “From The Playground to The Conference Room,” tying the basic ground rules of a conference discussed in Adrian’s book on peer conferences with a yearly program hosted here for young adults. The ground rules are intended to create a safe and intimate environment with principles like, “You will help to determine what happens at this conference” and, “What happens here will be kept confidential. You can feel safe here.”
After reading the first few chapters of the book, you can begin getting excited about your next conference – that is, if it’s a peer conference. Segar’s book tells you how to run your own peer conference. I recommend this book for all planners, but strongly recommend for well-versed planners who want to open their eyes to new ideas and possibly bring clients a unique, refreshed experience. For new planners, it’s also a great read as the beginning of the book provides a background and history on all types of conferences; you may learn other new things along the way, such as selecting a conference site and the break-down of how much food you’ll need per person (he does love some math in the book). If the higher-power of a conference gives you some push-back on the format, Adrian gives you enough examples to end any uneasiness. Facts like 25% of attendees want to leave a traditional conference before it’s over left me shaking my head, which is why Adrian has been the king of peer conferences for many years. The book is logical and gives a step-by-step process to creating your own peer conference and steer committee (which can be made up of the attendees – surprising, right? But that’s why the attendees enjoy it, they create the content and agenda rather than the committee assuming the content participants are interested in learning). Adrian’s guide helps to create a conference so your attendees won’t ever ask themselves, “Why am I sitting through this tortuous conference?” If you do pick up his book whether it’s on Amazon or the book website, I strongly recommend attending an Event Camp event or unconference to fully grasp the process. Nothing fits the pieces of the puzzle together like reading his book and then, pairing it with a great experience (and a group of professionals in the events industry).