Thursday, March 08, 2012

Why so successful and durable?

At November's AYE Conference, participant Michael Mahlberg asked if he could interview me for a German magazine. The interview and his article about AYE have now been published, but in German, so I thought I'd make the English version available to my readers whose German language skills are no better than mine. It's a long interview, so I'll probably use several blog entries to cover it all.

Michael: I thank you very much that you take the time for this Interview. You just came back from the 12th AYE - Amplifying Your Effectiveness - conference if I have counted correctly. 

Looking back on twelve years of AYE Conferences, why do you think that this unusual format proved so successful and durable?

Jerry: Several reasons come to mind, in no particular order:
1. We designed the conference in reaction to a number of conferences we hosts had just attended. We kept what we thought was good (such as, a few interactive sessions; some rare meal-time interaction;  comfortable accommodations) 

2. We discarded what we thought was bad (such as: overcrowding that really eliminated participant-participant interaction; segregation of presenters from participants; non-interactive presentations, such as power-point reading by presenters; a few big-name presenters who thought they knew all there was to know; amateur presenters who simply didn't know how to handle crowds [which were too big, anyway]; expensive accommodations; irrelevant activities such as nightclub events, stand-up comedians, shopping trips; third-party event planners who did not know the audience and/or topics).

3. We limited participation to 75, which after experimentation proved to be a number that kept down overcrowding and maximized interaction opportunities, while providing sufficient energy to run all sorts of experiential sessions.

4. We forbade power-point altogether, and required every session to be experiential.

5. We trained ourselves to be good designers and presenters of experiential sessions.

6. We kept prices low so independents would be able to come and add their viewpoint to the interactions.

7. We were not trying to make a pile of money, but instead were attempting to show what a conference would be like if we shed all the commercialism that has crept ahead of the espoused purposes of other conferences.

All in all, we've tried to do unto others as we would have others do unto us—and not just "unto" others, but with the full participation of others.
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Note: The 2012 AYE Conference will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina, Sunday, November 4 through Thursday November 8, 2012. You can read details at

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