Our go-to event models aren’t cutting it anymore

by Jenny Sauer-Klein


Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” 

And yet, we continue to see organizations offer the same draining, passive, and impactless events in the name of “this is what we’ve always done”. 😩

Typically, most professional events fall into 1 of 2 categories

⎽ The Flat Line Model: Cramming a bunch of information down an audience’s throat for hours, and well, nothing much changes from beginning to end. 😴 It’s a series of back-to-back speakers, then a lunch break, then 20 more speakers, a panel, and, if you’re lucky, a fireside chat! 

  • Participants sit quietly, staring at a screen or stage. 
  • There’s no time to integrate the information being shared or to reflect on how it might be relevant to the participants. 

The Result? People feel bored, overwhelmed, and disengaged. 🥱


⪱ The Chaos Model: It’s all over the place. You sit there and wonder “Who organized this event, and what were they thinking? What is the storyline here?” 😬

  • The sequencing doesn’t make sense, there’s not enough time for transitions from one session to another, speakers are giving contradictory opinions and information, and eventually, you’re not really sure what’s going on or why you’re even here. 
  • The Chaos Model often happens by mistake due to external pressures that event organizers are dealing with like the availability of speakers, venue restrictions, last-minute changes or unclear guidance from decision-makers.

The Result? People feel frustrated and confused. 🤷‍♀️


👎 These paradigms don’t work. We all hate them. And yet, we continue to attend and organize them in a variety of contexts. We perpetuate them because most organizers were never given formal training on experience design and don’t have other models to turn to. We think it’s safer to keep doing the things we know. 

We want to do better; we need to do better because our participants want and deserve better. Most people are searching for a creative, interactive, and engaging framework that is scalable to share within their organization. Introducing…. 

👍The Dramatic Arc Model: Inspired by theater and storytelling, this intentional framework takes participants on an experiential journey that builds up to a peak moment we call the Pinnacle. 

  • Participants are part of the experience, they are engaged with each other from the very beginning and contribute their knowledge and life experience to the conversation.
  • This model is about shifting our audiences away from the sit-and-listen passive observation mode and into an active contributor. 
  • We intentionally and strategically move participants incrementally towards the Pinnacle, and take time for Integration, in order to create a lasting transformation.

The Result? People feel 🤩 inspired, 😍acknowledged, 🥰connected, and ⚡️engaged. 

Learn more about the Dramatic Arc model here 


The first step towards moving away from old paradigms is to move beyond the fear of the unknown!

😨 We perpetuate the old models because we’re scared to fail. We’re scared to step outside the box of what we know and open ourselves up to criticism and backlash. We’re scared our audience won’t like something new, that they will be resistant, and maybe even leave the room. Everyone around me seems to be doing the same thing, so why should I go out on a limb?

💪 Embrace the future of event design

As we say at Scaling Intimacy, structure is your co-facilitator.  Having the tried and true Dramatic Arc model ensures the most impact for your audience. We have implemented the framework with 100,000s of people for over 25 years with great success.

Let us help you embrace the new paradigm through our immersive experience design course, Designing Dynamic Experiences

In this highly experiential four-week course and design sprint, you will learn how to design both in-person and virtual experiences to strategically deliver content, maximize impact, and help participants feel connected and engaged. It’s time to reimagine what a true dynamic learning experience can be.