Viewing PCMA as a New Attendee

January 4, 2012

In a few short days, I will be joining many of the most passionate and committed professionals in the face-to-face industry. Convening Leaders, (Professional Convention Management Association's) annual convention, begins this weekend in San Diego and I look forward to the experience every year. But, what I am realizing is that the best way for me to engage at Convening Leaders this year is to act as if it’s the first time I have attended.  It’s time for me to challenge how I typically approach educational forums.

I can’t recall what year I started to attend this conference, but I have always had a strong impression regarding the quality of the educational content, the talent and tenure of the attendees as well as the effectiveness of the volunteers – both supporting the organization as well as the city hosting the event. My exposure to PCMA has become dramatically richer and more comprehensive the past few years and the affect of that exposure is really at the heart of why I so look forward to this event.

I am proud to serve on PCMA’s Board of Directors. This has given me insight into the commitment of the volunteers who serve on the boards and committees. Really smart, very busy people who selflessly give of their time and talent in order to make PCMA a stronger organization.  It is so humbling to me that in an economy that is stretching everyone to max that so many give so much of their time to support PCMA.

PCMA truly believes that it is their responsibility to try new ideas – to demonstrate what does, and potentially what does not work so that their members can, in turn, make their own events better. In other words, PCMA is willing to take risks so that their members can learn from those risks. It takes a lot of courage to do that and we so enjoy partnering with PCMA to push that envelope every year.

But, let me get back to why I will be approaching this event as a new attendee this year.  The education has always been strong, so I have felt quite comfortable in my typical attendance pattern. General session/educational session/panel discussion … lunch … educational session/general session … rinse and repeat.

Last year, PCMA created a different concept where smaller, more personalized learning was conducted. The Learning Labs were a huge hit and the idea has been amplified this year to include four learning areas or hubs. The topics – and, most impressively – the line-up of speakers is truly exciting. Additionally, this is the second year that the Virtual Edge Summit will provide content for the event.  This will provide opportunities for formal and informal presentations, hands-on demos and discussion forums.

Over three days, the four hubs within the Learning Lounge will host over 150 short, succinct options for me to choose from. At any given time, there could be as many as 20-plus choices of educational content, ranging from 15, 30 or 45 minutes.

I haven’t had the opportunity to attend TED, but I am certain that after experiencing the PCMA version, I will understand why the educational format that has become so popular and inspiring. The brief, interactive sessions will be balanced with strong general sessions, so I will still enjoy a bit of my more typical routine, but I do believe that I will learn more, meet different people and engage more effectively by embracing the new format. What will be even more fun is to see how those who attend the event virtually will engage with those of us who are in San Diego.

It may be too late for you to jump on a plane if you aren’t already registered for PCMA, but there is a way for you to participate virtually. Click on the links below to see the agenda and to register. You may not get to enjoy the excitement of being there in person (and, experience the awesomeness of San Diego), but it is the next best thing.




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