Here’s how it used to be: PCMA (and most other associations, for that matter) would put out a call for papers for education session presentations for our annual meeting, and choose those proposals that stood out above the others. Then we would stitch together a program based on those accepted proposals, hoping that whatever we got in would cover the topics attendees would be interested in.
We at PCMA headquarters have learned that strategy just doesn’t cut it anymore. Why? Well, first of all, the meetings industry has become increasingly complex. There’s a lot more ground to cover – and with the explosive growth of social media and other technology tools, what we need to focus on can seem overwhelming. We don’t know what we don’t know.
Associations are uniquely positioned to help their members sift through the clutter – but, as PCMA Education Task Force member Jeff Hurt said to me recently, we need to shift from content aggregator to content curator. So as we plan Convening Leaders 2013, Jan. 13-16 in Orlando, we’re curating content to focus on key areas such as meeting design, innovation, and engagement, all of which have to do with the attendee experience; and business acumen, because we believe that meeting professionals need a solid foundation of business intelligence. In fact, for the first time, we’ll be offering a separate business acumen program track.
We’ve used these topic areas as the framework for evaluating the session proposals that we’ve received through our traditional Call for Presentations. And as we’ve laid in those sessions that we’ve accepted, we’ve actively sought out presenters for the gaps that we’ve found – for example, we’re short on sessions that cover sponsorship and marketing, so we’re working on that.
This kind of comprehensive program development requires more time and a different mix of volunteers. At PCMA, we are fortunate to have volunteers from all areas of the meetings industry on our Annual Meeting Program Committee, chaired by Claire Smith, and all of PCMA’s Task Forces, who are in sync with this content-development approach and are committed to delivering the best education in our industry.
We’ve also recognized as an organization that if we want to be relevant, we can’t just invite people to share their ideas and concerns about the industry a few specific times a year. EduGate is our channel for industry and non-industry professionals to partner with PCMA to submit session proposals and ideas for future education programs at any time of the year. Even if you have just the start of an idea that you think would make a great session, you can submit it for consideration. I encourage you to collaborate with us! Collectively, we can move our industry forward.
In another first for PCMA, this month we are convening a group of corporate planners for a Global Corporate Summit in Scotland for an in-depth exchange. Before crossing the pond, we asked our U.S.-based corporate planner participants to engage in a virtual roundtable discussion about their roles and challenges.