Keeping Convening Leaders Fresh

Attendees play a key role in our collective-learning process.

“Keep Austin Weird” is the quirky slogan for the Live Music Capital of the World—our location for Convening Leaders (CL) 2017 last month. We don’t have a permanent slogan for our annual meeting, but if we did, it would be something like “Keep Convening Leaders Fresh.” We know your time and resources are valuable. So whether you’ve been attending CL for years, or have not yet, we strive to create a unique and inspiring event year after year.

Our outstanding Austin partners helped set the stage for this year’s event, bringing the city’s unique flavor and style—not to mention its incredible music scene—into our program. From the opening-night reception steeped in Austin’s year-round festival culture to the closing-night reception—complete with an appearance by Austin’s own Willie Nelson—we all knew we were part of something special.

Learning was at the core of the entire event. We tackled tough topics, from developing trust in the digital age to reinventing the trade-show floor. We discussed how to manage change and how to unleash innovation. We studied successful events like SXSW and TED. We gained key business-world insights at the PCMA Business School. We delved into wellness issues and work-life integration.

And that was just in the formal education sessions. Several Learning Labs were set up throughout the Austin Convention Center—open-space environments such as the Design Lab to the Production Strategies Lab hosted a steady stream of people looking to discuss and learn at their own pace.

Our popular Tech Central was also back this year, with several new additions. The Social Media Hubs were popular, as was the Disruptive Tech Zone. Attendees could even take part in drone races and watch tech startups pitch their products “Shark Tank”–style.

Also new this year was the Brain Dates program, to give attendees a more structured approach to their networking. Before the event, they could make both offers and requests for knowledge on specific topics of interest, and schedule on-site meet-ups.

I’m the first to say we don’t always hit a home run with our attempts to innovate and try new things. But as this year’s “designing colLABoration” theme shows, we view Convening Leaders as a learning lab for producing creative and effective business events. Everyone involved with the program—especially attendees—partners in the collective-learning process.

I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to our outstanding hosts in Austin, our production partners, speakers, strategic partners, incredible staff who work tirelessly to produce events like Convening Leaders, and everyone who joined us in Austin. Thanks also to everyone who participated remotely via our livestream, brought to everyone for free by Calgary Meetings + Conventions. It was a pleasure learning with you!

 

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.