Event Industry

PCMA Convening Leaders ’14: Big Takeaways, and Next Year’s Wish List

Written by The Meeting Pool

Hard to believe that PCMA Convening Leaders 2014 was really just 2 weeks ago. The conference left such a great impression on attendees – the buzz is still on, and people are wondering what is in store for next year’s Convening Leaders in Chicago!  We asked some event pros who attended year’s record breaking conference to tell us what their big takeaway was, and more importantly, what they would like to see different or NEW for #PCMACL next year.  Hit the “+” or “-” signs below to see what they had to say:

tiffany-hayesTiffany M. Hayes
Director, Programs and Conferences | American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) | @AAPTHQ

Big Takeaway

The importance of making sure your conference attendees are always engaged whether it be by the delivery of a speaker’s message or the design and set-up of a meeting room to maximize the experience of human connection.

For Next Year...
I would like to see the session speakers represent the diversity of the conference attendees from an ethnicity perspective.  If these prospective speakers are not seeking out PCMA – then PCMA should seek them out.

joyce-paschall-cae-cmpJoyce Paschall
Director of Education and Meetings | American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine | @joycepaschall

Big Takeaway
The audience at #PCMACL continues to be stellar and of a higher, more senior level than at other major meeting-professionals’ conference(s). Yet the educational content is only as good as the sessions you pick and to what degree they “work” for you or can be translated to your own setting. [This is not just a 2014 observation – it holds for every CL I have been to].
For Next Year...

I would LOVE to have a Schedule-At-A-Glance document posted in advance that I could view, download, and, HORRORS!, P-R-I-N-T. It needs to be succinct yet in large enough font to be easily read by a middle-aged meeting professional. The event app doesn’t serve this purpose, nor does the website or scheduler function. I don’t need a whole brochure. Just a clean, easy-on-the-eyes listing of what sessions/speakers are when. Please. Seriously. It’s not just me.

Xpc22o_4_biggerLenay Gore
Director of Conventions and Meetings| American Public Transportation Association | @LenayGore

Big Takeaway
I liked the TechBar, but would have preferred it to be in the Learning Lounge area, and not so far away. Change is happening… continue to embrace it and include the younger generation as much as you can when doing conference planning.
For Next Year...

Would like to go back to having all the sessions end at the same time.

adrian-segarAdrian Segar
Founder | Conferences That Work | @asegar

Big Takeaway
How much my friends in the meeting industry mean to me, and how much I appreciate the opportunity given to me at PCMACL 2014 to spend time with so many old friends, to finally meet face to face with folks I’ve connected with previously online, and to make new friends.
For Next Year...

Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Fewer lecture-style plenaries. Having thousands of participants actively learning together can be powerful and provide far more long-term impact.
  • Suggested “track maps” for attendees with distinct interests (e.g. students, recent industry entries, meeting planners, suppliers, meeting designers, tech devotees, what’s new junkies, etc.)
  • An overall venue map showing where the different sub-venues are located.
  • Acoustic and visual dividers of large spaces that have several functions taking place simultaneously. And significantly improved sound; almost every session I attended had sound quality and audience mike problems.
  • Much lower sound volume at socials and meals, together with “quiet zones”: most attendees want to talk to each other at these times, not yell to be heard.

rob-wilsonRobert Wilson
President | Meeting Evolution | @mtgevolution

Big Takeaway
My biggest take away from PCMACL was from the session with Lisa Bodell and the importance of structure, BUT understanding the value of the willingness to change and be open to new ideas.
For Next Year...

I really enjoy PCMA every year. I like the collaboration, the willingness to try new things and realization that if you try new things you might fail. Failure is not a bad thing when you can take that opportunity and learn from it.

RMD_Deyo_biggerRobin Deyo
Founder & Executive VP | Cendyn | @robindeyo

Big Takeaway
The steady restoration of the meetings industry is very promising.  From the planners to suppliers, there was an overall optimism in the air plus an eagerness to embrace the advantages new technology offers to enhance the meeting planning process.  ROI plus Return on Objective will drive Strategic Meetings Management in 2014.
For Next Year...

Acknowledging that the conference is truly educational in its mission, it would still have been nice to better integrate the Tech Central area into the flow of the conference instead of putting it in an adjacent facility.

4fe9a192d91a34d5e5895b9d721a97d2_biggerAmy O’Malley
Director of Sales, USA | SpotMe | @ACButtercup

Big Takeaway

From John Spence’s Leadership by Design session: 4 keys of a successful leader: honest, forward thinking, competent, and inspiring.  What great leaders say, “I am good at what I do, and I do it because I care about you”.  So embrace risk, seek opportunities everywhere, believe in people, and be committed to lifelong learning.

For Next Year...

A more advanced opportunity for insight sharing and best practices, beyond Twitter and post-it notes.  PCMA has incredible members that bring a wealth of expertise. Let’s learn from one another and collaborate based on the amazing education Convening Leaders provides.

maryanne-bobrowMaryAnne P. Bobrow
President | Bobrow Associates, Inc. | @mbobrow

Big Takeaway

PCMA always seems to lead by example and this year was no different.  While the Revolution theme was presented subtly, it spoke loudly for the need to change as our meetings industry is changing in so many ways, including the demographics of the members.  I am always torn at PCMA because there is more than one session I want to attend and they conflict.  Walsh and Kahn were mesmerizing keynotes!  I always come to this meeting with high expectations and am not disappointed.  I come home feeling that my financial investment in attending this meeting was well worth the “take home” information I bring back.  And . . . the time to network with peers from around the continent is always quality time for me.

For Next Year...

PCMA is always trying something new and I assume both the June education conference in Toronto and Convening Leaders 2015 will have new and different things in store for us.  From a scheduling standpoint, I would like to see longer lunch breaks.  I don’t get to spend time with some of my peers very often and, with receptions, parties, etc., lunch is sometimes the only time I get to catch up with some people.  By the time you get seated and served, it’s time to go back into the sessions.

tahira-endean-cmp-bhmTahira Endean
Co-Producer | Event Alley Show| @tahiracreates

Big Takeaway

Lifelong learning is critical – through conferences, through conversations, through on-line channels such as the Khan Academy where learning contextualized becomes our takeaway goal for everyone.

For Next Year...

I love both the Learning Lounge and Tech Central spaces and would love to see this combined, and then a musical track overlaid that always provides an ambient energy as you arrive, while leaving the learning pods surrounding quieter – this area should have a huge f2f buzz!  I would also love to see a focus such as we saw in Orlando on healthier food options that support engaged learning by stabilizing blood sugar though the day.