Planner’s Notebook

Experience Required

Information is only helpful if you can transform it into education. That’s our overarching goal for Convening Leaders 2015.

As we come upon our busy season preparing for PCMA Convening Leaders 2015 (Jan. 11–14 in Chicago!), one of our key areas of focus is the attendee educational experience. Convening Leaders is known for its variety and depth of content, and that means our standards need to be high.

Our general philosophy is to approach each year’s meeting with our minds open to the newest concepts and ideas. We spend months researching and talking to every single one of our speakers at every level, numerous times, to ensure that they deliver what attendees need. After working at PCMA for nearly 14 years — and heading up our Convening Leaders team for the last eight of them — I can tell you that sometimes we hit the mark and sometimes we don’t. But we always learn from the experience.

One lesson that has crystallized for us in recent years is that education and information are not the same thing. Our sessions at Convening Leaders can provide all kinds of information all day long, but if it’s not applicable to you, or relevant to your particular situation, then it’s not really education. It’s just information. We want to do more than just provide you with information; we want you to take that information and make it mean something to you. We want to conduct real-time experiments in event management and delivery that allow you to see things in action. We want you to take home examples, templates, blueprints, and, of course, amazing conversations — all of them leaving you inspired to create your own big plans back at your job.

How do we plan to do all of that for 4,000-plus attendees? By providing you with the tools to engineer your own experience, in environments where you can drill down into topics that are most relevant to you. We’ll start each day with high-level ideas to get you thinking. Next, you’ll be able to choose one of our new Thought Leaders sessions to take you further into a particular topic. In the afternoon, our Industry Application Breakouts will allow you to directly apply these ideas to specific segments of our industry, such as medical associations, corporate events, global programs, and more. At the end of the day, your entire educational experience will come to life in the Learning Lounge, where you’ll collaborate with thought leaders, facilitators, and speakers from earlier in the day — along with your fellow attendees. It’s where the information becomes education and learning.

At Convening Leaders, we want to minimize information overload as much as possible. With the invaluable assistance of our volunteers, task forces, speakers, and facilitators, we’re working hard to give our attendees the best, most customizable educational experience yet. I look forward to sharing even more about the event in the coming months. In the meantime, please feel free to send me any ideas or comments.

Fast 5

Based on feedback from the last two years, our team is streamlining content for Convening Leaders 2015 into five key areas, so attendees can follow the path that makes the most sense to them:

› Meeting and experience architecture
› Globalization
› Event technology and intelligence
› Learning design
› Business and strategy

As always, you can find more information at

Kelly Peacy, CAE, CMP

Kelly Peacy, CAE, is CAE, CMP, is senior vice president of education and events at PCMA.