A Conversation with Adrian Segar

I love talking to people that challenge me; People that make you look at the world a little differently. Individuals that see through glasses that we do not own. Sometimes the lenses are rosy, sometimes they are darker, and sometimes the lenses are crystal clear.

Such is the case of Adrian Segar, the lenses that he sees through are totally clear. He has knowledge and well formed opinions about conferences and how your attendees should be educated. 

Although Adrian and I have never met in person, you wouldn’t know it because we regularly communicate through Twitter, Facebook, and even Skype.

If you have not had the privilege of speaking with Adrian and do not hang out online in the various meetings industry social spots, here is a quick bio from his website:

Adrian is an acknowledged innovator and speaker on participant-led event design. He has presented at Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress, EIBTM, MPI Chapter meetings, the MPI Chapter Business Summit, HSMAI MEET, and FRESH, GMIC & NESAE annual conferences. Adrian was the community manager for the weekly #eventprofs Twitter chat for 2011-12. He is a proponent of and presenter at EventCamps—volunteer-run, innovative, experimental conferences for event professionals—and has organized and facilitated two in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

In 2011, BizBash Magazine named Adrian as one of “The 68 Most Innovative Event Professionals”.

His next book, to be published later this year, is a compendium of participation techniques you can use to enhance learning and connection in meeting sessions.

Based on this short bio, I am sure that you can guess that he is pretty good at what he does and I would agree with you. Adrian knows meeting and event content, how it should be delivered, and how your attendees will benefit if you do it right.

A few weeks ago, I figured it would be good to write to Adrian and ask if he was interested in recording a video chat that we could share as part of a series of interviews and videos I have been shooting based on event technology. I sent Adrian an email and this is the response that I got:

Keith, as you might expect I’m a little jaded about an emphasis on event technology because I think the power of event process is far more important (and routinely ignored). Would that (maverick?) attitude fit into what you’re trying to do here?

Bang! There it is.

This is exactly what I wanted because in truth, everyone is totally over the top about meetings and technology and how they are two peas in a pod and that if you have an event, all you need is a little tech and presto! You have a winner that totally stuns the world and all of a sudden your event is more important than the Smallpox Vaccine, more beautiful than the Mona Lisa, and will end world hunger because everyone will thrive on your event’s greatness.

Adrian gets it. He gets that technology is wonderful for the industry but tech will not make content better. Technology can help your attendees learn but it will not educate them. Technology can get attendees to the door but it is still up to the conference organizers to develop programs that are worthwhile.

Technology is a tool….. Not the answer.

The plan was to have a series of scripted questions that I would ask, Adrian could answer, and then if needed, I could throw in my two cents if they added to the conversation. I thought I would edit the video down and have a nice 8-10 minute spot that would fit well with the others that I am creating.

Things did not really go according to plan. They were better.

I love what happens when two people with shared interests and similar but not overlapping points of view get to talking. Conversations grow, stop, change direction, and circle back around on themselves. In short…. They go off the rails in a good way because you never know what is coming around the next bend.

This is exactly what happened when I was speaking with Adrian. I don’t think we actually ever got to any of my questions. We went way over the 30 minutes, and the conversation was one of the best that I have had in a long, long, time. It was fun, meandering, and if I may say so…..useful.

Here is the full conversation, all 57 minutes. If you have the time, check it out. I hope that you have as much fun watching as I did participating.

Note. If you do not have the time, I am in the process of finding some cut points to make the video shorter and the full transcript is currently being typed up by a team of trained squirrels. As soon as they are finished, I will post that as well.

To learn more about Adrian, check out his website. You can also get a copy of his book (I have read it, it is really good) here.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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