An Offer to MPI WEC Presenters – Next Year, We’ll Provide the Handouts!

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I recently attended MPI’s 2010 WEC in Vancouver.

First, Vancouver is amazing. It’s a big city, but VERY clean, safe and has great people with close connections to nature and beautiful views. All you needed is great weather… oh, yeah, we had that, too!

Meeting planners, don’t walk – run to Vancouver.

MPI Embracing Social Media

MPI did a wonderful job of embracing social media and community building. They are on the edge, taking some risks and some criticism, but dealing with it like professionals. I’m impressed.

If you haven’t figured this out yet… Tweeters are Innovators. Every organization needs to make a strong connection to these people. They may communicate in 140 characters, but their thinking is expansive and their reach is wide!

Teetering Too Much CSR?

I’m concerned that MPI’s great intentions of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have swung the pendulum to the side of irresponsibility… and the victim is “learning.”  MPI provided no funding for on-site printed handouts, and they encouraged limited or no printed handouts from their speakers.

In every session I attended, the speaker indicated a “handout” would have helped them present the material better. In one of the sessions about Corporate Social Responsibility, the speaker indicated she had a great workbook she wanted to share, but wasn’t exactly sure how effective her presentation was going to be without it. As an attendee, and advocate of learning, all I could think was “Ugh!”

What’s The Green Elephant in The Room?

I’m sorry to be blunt, but take note: Paper is a renewable natural product and print-on-demand is efficient and cost effective (just ask us). The green-wasting “elephant in the room” is travel, which accounts for 80% of the carbon footprint that we’re all trying to decrease.

Learning Is Priceless!

Let’s make learning a priority for events, second only to networking. Is that not “the” value proposition for events?

Networking + Learning = greater human contributions, better sessions, happier attendees, a better experience which increases the likelihood to return and tell others about it. Which is the best type of marketing you can have.

My Offer – Free Printing by Omnipress!

I know for some meetings the printed materials are a cost issue (stop calling it a green issue – let’s be realistic). Maybe for MPI it’s an issue of priorities, but next year, I’ll take care of that. I believe in the value of meetings, the need to refocus on learning, ensuring meeting planners are well prepared, educated.

That said, I’m offering Omnipress’s printing services free to ALL speakers at WEC 2011 who feel a printed handout, workbooks included, will help them accomplish their goal… to educate.


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August 9th, 2010Cameron Toth says:

Great article David! Great offer as well. This is an excellent branding opportunity!



August 9th, 2010Cheryl Lawson says:

What’s The Green Elephant in The Room? 🙂

I do think we’re all starting to miss the point of sustainable meeting and events. Having a strategic sustainable plan and communicating it to your attendees is a much better solution than just eliminating items.

On the other hand, while I feel the pain of presenters who could not educate with out handouts, my first thought was why were these presenters not more flexible with their presentations? I’m sure they had plenty of notice of MPI’s “green” efforts, and more importantly why did they mention their shortcomings during their talks? Not cool.

I love your idea of print on demand. Way to go with offering to provide your services for free.

Twitter: Partyaficionado


August 10th, 2010David McKnight says:

Cameron – thank you, I think we can print it more cost effectively than speakers can and far more environmentally friendly. Content should be on-line too…go for the biggest reach and improve fundability…and avavible for free. And don’t stop there go mobile too…triple threat.

Cheryl – the speakers did adopted/recovered but the point is why not keep the focus on learning…remove the barriers….enable speakers the ability to deliver the best learning experience….that is being responsible and ensuring sustainability.

Twitter: Djmcknight


August 10th, 2010Jenny Andrawis says:

There’s a financial and environmental cost to printing, and this offer meets the need of those wanting to save on any of those costs.

To reduce the carbon footprint even more, Omnipress should make sure that print outs are two-sided, printed in black ink only, pay attention to the paper weight/stock used, and maybe even help the presenters with design (I have seen so many cases where the presenter uses a whole page for 3 bullet points and a logo). Use recycled paper and recycled printer cartridges. Source the paper and printers from local businesses, as opposed to shipping them from elsewhere. To really promote this print on demand offer and how it relates to reduce the carbon foot print, lets also encourage attendees to recycle the paper handouts. Supply paper recycle bins in the printing area so all wasted paper can be recycled.

Great Post. Great Offer!

Twitter: jennyandrawis


August 10th, 2010Cheryl Lawson says:

David, I agree with you print on demand, or handouts online are great options to have for any conference. What I’m not sold on is the notion that a “best learning experience” is dependent on handouts.

It’s something I struggle with as an event professional and an educator. Finding new ways to facilitate learning is challenging, but certainly the responsibility of the educator.

Twitter: Partyaficionado


August 10th, 2010David McKnight says:


All good ideas and we help guide our customers to understand the options. The local printer idea gets tricky, and complicated, if you really want to impact carbon omissions. The equipment they use, the type of toner, their waste management practices, their paper source – after all the paper, 99% of the weight still had to be shipped to the printer – including waste, and not all paper mills are environmentally equal. We ship via common carriers so unless you are ordering 1,000,000 books your order rides along dozens of other shipments headed to the same place so there is a marginal energy cost. The key – only print what you need, isn’t that true for most things, and go with a printer that invests in reducing environmental impact so the meeting planners can focus on orchestrating the event.

Twitter: Djmcknight


August 10th, 2010David McKnight says:


I’m not sure anyone is saying that handouts ensure the “best learning experience”. I’ve been to some bad sessions with great handouts. The issue is if handout help people to learn, then isn’t that “value” worth considering.

Let’s NOT stop at handouts. I too am excited by the new and old ideas to help re-think how we learn and what makes for a better learning experience. From the format of the the session, layout of the room, to the environment around us. Why do we still have most of our meeting inside cold rectangular rooms, bare walls, with harsh lighting.

Twitter: Djmcknight


August 10th, 2010Deborah says:

David, totally support your passion, ideas and offer. I like the fact that you agree with the “best learning experience” when F2F too.

Although, I’m not big on providing handouts period, there are some attendees that still want it. So, I did post one session handout on Pathable. What surprised me was that several attendees actually printed their copy and brought them to the session-good for them!

Hopefully, you had a conversation to partner with MPI on your print on demand offer for next years conference. Giving attendees options are better than none.

Wishing you much success at Omnipress!

Twitter: DeborahGardner


August 10th, 2010Joan Eisenstodt says:

I love you1

I’ve been saying (screaming?) this for years – and it frustrates me.

1) Print-on-demand is not duplexed. If an org. copies handouts, they will.
2) Speakers do the best they can w/ what they are told are the policies. LEARNERS (emphasis intentional) are short-changed when all the tools are not there. Thus, for many of us, having the handouts is how we can take notes w/o worrying how we’ll connect the thought WE had to the point the speaker has on the slide, etc.
3) No handouts is more green-washing than not. (Was that a double-negative?) There are far more things that can be done.

David – again .. I love you and appreciate what you said — the more of us who understand learning styles and needs and promote them the better learners will learn.

Ultimately, sustainability can be achieved in many other ways.

Twitter: joaneisenstodt


August 11th, 2010Midori Connolly says:

Believe it or not, I will absolutely echo Joan. Despite the fact that I am one of the greatest advocates for sustainability and green meetings, I believe in the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. With a solid strategy in place (including the fantastic idea from Jenny for providing style guides to speakers!), the human experience is not sacrificed for the sake of the planet.

There are a few key reasons why handouts are still so important to educational strategy:

1. As we finally incorporate more adult learning theory into our breakout sessions, we add the elements of group activity or self-directed learning activities. If done properly, this requires some type of workbook or notebook for recording the discoveries of the group or individual. This can become an invaluable tool for a session participant to revisit after the session is over. If not provided before, the majority of attendees will suffer for not having the workbook.

2. Carefully designed handouts are supplemental learning opportunities to the attendee. This should never, ever be just a printout of slides. Remember homework? There is an important reason why we had exercises and information in addition to classroom lecture.

I would add that even the Green Meeting Industry Council’s APEX/ASTM workshop necessitated close to 40 pages of paper. However, this is a beautiful, bound notebook that a student will be able to refer to time and time again.

And, David, I guess I love you too? 😉
Midori Connolly, Chief AVGirl

Twitter: GreenA_V


August 11th, 2010Joan Eisenstodt says:

So we have a movement .. whether it’s love of David or a general movement about improving education AND sustainability for meetings/learning.

This week, I’m doing training at ConnectMarketplace – my first time and I have no idea what they do about handouts. (I sent mine.) And then for many of us it’s ASAE.

Shall we look and see what happens and talk about it here and elsewhere?

And an FYI: after the Future of Meetings (or Meetings of the Future) session I facilitated [I call myself an learning facilitator v. speaker] at WEC10, a bunch of us stayed and talked and considered taking bed sheets and writing protest signs for the general sessions — about lighting, discussion, etc. — and unfurling them as some do at Congressional hearings. We didn’t but oh my it’s still tempting!

Joan Eisenstodt – learner, facilitator, trainer and connector

Twitter: joaneisenstodt


[…] But other organizations have different policies. In late July, I attended MPI’s World Education Conference as a sponsor and as an attendee (We have been proud sponsors of this event and other MPI national and local events for many years). At this year’s event I got a little frustrated with the absence of handouts at the sessions I attended. As well, my colleague experienced presenters expressing their disappointment and frequent apologies for not having handouts. Because we print educational meeting materials and handouts for hundreds of associations, I made this offer (on our blog) to the presenters: Omnipress will print handouts at no cost to presenters for the 2011 World Education Conference. […]


September 13th, 2010David McKnight says:

The conversation just got more interesting….


Twitter: Djmcknight

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