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Designing Events That Matter with Ruud Janssen: Event Recap

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July 16, 2015

Let’s face it: planning a large event is a daunting task. Juggling all of the moving parts and combining them into a successful program is taxing.

The Event Model Canvas (EMC) is a tool to make it all a little more manageable: the #EventCanvas allows you to design an event on a single board. It was created by Ruud Janssen and Roel Frissen, founders of the firm Event Model Generation.

We were fortunate to have Ruud explain the EMC to us in a recent webinar. He showed how that when combined with MURAL, it’s a powerful tool for working with remote teams. Here’s the full recording of the event on Vimeo:


Ruud spoke about the work he has done in collaboration with the Internet Society. Using both the EMC and MURAL, teams around the world collaborated to plan an event. See more about this case study on the Event Model Generation website.

Using MURAL is a big advantage for events like this because, as Ruud aptly points out, “design is not a static thing.” MURAL allows the event design to evolve in a space that everyone can see from wherever they are, in whatever time zone.

MURAL also affords you the ability to fit multiple activities on one board. The image below shows empathy maps and EMCs for both the meeting owner and participants. You can compare needs, emotions, and desired outcomes of each persona at a glance.



By extracting the Key Needs of these stakeholders, the #EventCanvas allows us to address those needs and design for success.


Below are some of the resources and websites Ruud shared during the webinar.

1. Download the Event Model Canvas

2. Check out Ruud’s Certified Event Designer Workshops

3. Here’s one of his Event Design Certificates

Follow Ruud on twitter at @RuudWJanssen and check out the hashtag #eventcanvas for more on this topic.


We had a lively Q&A at the end of the webinar. Ruud was able to field some of your questions, but not all of them. Here are two we couldn’t get to in the live webinar:

What are your favorite practical ways to change the emotional state of participants?Great question. Emotions are the biggest catalyst to behavior change so key in the way you design the experience journey and instructional design. There is a full scale of options. My personal preferences are:

  • surprise
  • simulations (esp ‘planned’ crisis)
  • bring the problem physically into the room (hack a computer in the room for a hackers conference; bring a car wreck into the room for a car insurance conference etc)
  • create a group ‘out of comfort situation’ to level the playing field (see example as i like to use it as a closing session for conference to action the learning here:
  • personal attention / prepare /research to plan for an emotional moment
  • make everyone feel 7 years old again (like the paper airplane we did during the webinar)

How long does it usually take for a project to get from stickies to a visual canvas?

Can be done in 90 minutes per stakeholder X number of stakeholders. Then you complete the rough sketches. With trained visualizers, this can be done in real-time within the day or overnight.

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