Behind the Scenes

Cultivating Creative Feedback

We’ve just returned from PCMA’s Convening Leaders and we’ve got a few things to say.

With drop-dead gorgeous Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre as its backdrop and stage, Convening Leaders couldn’t have had a more spot-on theme: “Cultivating Creative Moments.” Here are some of the ways Convene’s editorial team drew inspiration.

Executive Editor Chris Durso was struck by how, although we’ve written a lot about the importance of matching content to space and vice versa, he “was completely unprepared for the scale — large and small — on which PCMA did that at Convening Leaders. The Vancouver Convention Centre is a magnificent facility, and PCMA used every corner of it in ways specifically tailored for the programs that were set there, from the soaring General Session room with its 145-foot-wide projection screen, to the Global Hub Coffee House, occupying a cozy corner of prefunction space with adjective-defying views of the Barrard Inlet waterfront and the North Shore mountains.”

Senior Editor and Director of Online Content Barbara Palmer’s biggest takeaway was a personal one — “a mash-up between Juliet Funt’s message about the value of white space in our work lives and Gretchen Rubin’s assertion that a treat is not the same thing as a reward. Rewards have never worked well for me because I keep changing my own rules in order to get more done. But a treat is something you don’t have to justify, Rubin pointed out, and actually helps you stay on track. I put this into immediate practice in Vancouver. I had exactly five minutes to spare before an appointment, and I spent them coloring a page with markers in the Learning Lounge’s Creativity Zone. I was amazed at how refreshed I felt afterwards.”

Web Editor Kate Mulcrone was finalizing this issue’s cover story about mindfulness at meetings when we landed in Vancouver, where an extensive mindfulness-and-wellness program was part of Convening Leaders’ “Being Your Best” track. Kate observed: “Both the formal education sessions and the shorter 15-minute workshops at The Wellness Stop were packed. As an industry, we’re only beginning to incorporate mindfulness programming into our events, so I took heart in seeing how PCMA is committed to educating planners about its many benefits for attendees.”

And because Associate Editor Corin Hirsch’s “antennae are always bent toward food and beverage,” she was tuned into the issue of attendees’ dietary restrictions. Though the center “did a stellar job of offering an array of food for all diets, planners are still on the hunt for solutions — and based on a session I attended, seem to be on the brink of honing some workable standards.”

As for me, perhaps I had an inkling about how the center’s waterfront and mountain vistas would recharge my batteries when I wrote about the power of awe before heading to Vancouver. But I was nonetheless unprepared for the sight of a bald eagle one day, soaring close to the windows, at eye level. That was a moment I didn’t cultivate, but will savor.

Lasting Impressions

Honest feedback from meeting attendees — like what we’ve offered here — is priceless. But for most meeting planners, it’s also a painful process. Be sure to read the results of our recent survey on conference evaluations so you can learn what works from your peers, reinforced by a learning expert’s commentary.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.