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Seven Rules for Designing More Innovative Conferences

Conferences are an excellent opportunity for people to learn, collaborate and engage. Yet so many conferences leave people wanting more value. Much is invested in speakers and the latest technology yet the research shows people want more connection and engagement.

While formats like Open Space, TED and Unconferences are popular, simply copying them is not the answer. And more conference technology will not save a poor conference design. Read this book before you consider speakers or hotels. Put participants at the center of your conference plan. It’s time for a different way to start.

  1. What expertise do participants bring to the conference?
  2. What do participants need to learn to be more successful?
  3. How can participants engage and collaborate during a conference?
  4. How would your participants define value at your conference?

These answers add to your Learning Strategy. With a strategy in place, you can focus on the logistics and budgets to create a successful and effective conference that creates value.

Focus on results and collaboration

Too many conferences limit their design thinking to traditional objectives of training, networking and motivation. What if we added collaboration to the design objectives of our events?

Seven Rules for Designing More Innovative Conferences is full of tips, ideas and case studies that you can use based on seven rules to prompt new ideas:

Rule 1  The experts at your conference are in the audience, not on the stage.
Rule 2  Think Return on Investment: even though it is hard to measure.
Rule 3  Design your conference with logistics and learning.
Rule 4  Learning drives all objectives and the design of your event.
Rule 5  Always use the brainpower of an audience.
Rule 6  Put structure into your networking and mingling opportunities.
Rule 7  Assume your conference participants have weak skills for participating in a conference.

Seven Rules for Designing More Innovative Conferences book cover
Seven Rules for Designing More Innovative Conferences book cover

What’s in this book?

It is a roadmap to prompt (and sometime provoke) new thinking in the design of an event, and it’s long overdue. You will find:

  1. New thinking and ideas – each rule provides key insights to use when designing your conference.
  2. Tips and case studies – real examples highlight specific approaches or examples you can use.
  3. Planning templates – planning templates give you models that you can copy and use.

Download sample

International reviews

European based, Congrex magazine

Ed Bernacki explains, a learning plan requires taking into account what worked in the past and what is possible. Flexibility and the exploration of new ideas is key, as well as defining clear objectives for learning, networking, collaboration and the design of the event to achieve these results. He encourages us to consider that this is the true ROI (Return on Investment) for the participant. Learning, he argues is very different from conference content or a conference programme. Meetings should be viewed as ‘learning experiences’ elaborated to change the behavior of attendees.

Association Executive

Your book is great. We’re thinking about organizing an annual sustainable development conference for senior decision-makers in business and the public sector, and I'm keen to make sure that it’s not just another conference … so your thoughts will be really helpful. Perhaps you’d keep in touch and let me know of any new developments your end.

Lindsay Travis, United Kingdom

The Globe and Mail, Canada

In 2007, The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada announced its list for Top Management Books of the year. The big names were represented: Malcolm Gladwell, Chip and Dan Heath, Marshall Goldsmith, Gary Hamel, Don Tapscott and Marcus Buckingham. Ed Bernacki was also on the list as The Globe and Mail gave this honorable mention for management book of the year: Seven Rules for Designing More Innovative Conferences (The Idea Factory) by Ed Bernacki is a short, simple and plain book that offers some terrific and long-needed ideas for improving conferences. Read the full page book review (abridged).