To the Point

Which Meeting Professional Are You?

Convening Leaders helps attendees bring out the best version of themselves.

Did you see my DIRECTV/Rob Lowe video spoof a few months back? In it, I play a slightly disheveled alter ego of myself tethered to my desk and unable to attend Convening Leaders, PCMA’s annual meeting, in Chicago. Just a few weeks ago, I was happy to reclaim my true persona and engage with many of you at our home base here in the Windy City.

The energy, enthusiasm, and sense of camaraderie that our community brings to PCMA’s annual gathering are critical to its success. But we don’t just bank on that spirit to make it a must-attend event every January. Each year, staff, volunteers, and partners challenge themselves to reinvent our processes, plans, and execution so that attendees get the most out of their meeting experience. And even when those reinventions don’t hit a home run, it’s part of the education — to help you see firsthand how an initiative plays out.

This year, we added a special education session to share what went into the meeting-planning process. We also gave participants a backstage pass to our Opening General Session to experience its inner workings, live and in progress, as well as a behind-the-scenes session on producing our hybrid event.

We started each full program day with big-picture concepts, and then allowed attendees to drill down to industry applications and opportunities to customize their learning as the day went along. (See what I mean at We also introduced five core education tracks to help attendees create a personalized learning experience: Event Technology and Intelligence, Operational Strategy, Meeting and Experience Design, Globalization, and PCMA Business School.

On Wednesday, at our new Leadership Lesson Sessions, attendees put high-level leadership concepts into practice. During PCMA’s Five Speakers to Watch program, they previewed five up-and-coming speakers.

And this year, our Learning Lounge and TechCentral spaces gave attendees a platform to immediately process what they’d just heard in education sessions. Combining areas for drilling down on topics with sections for free discussion, the lounge was designed as an environment for learning to become more tangible and cemented into memory. We continued to experiment with how furniture, layout, AV, and signage can enhance this experience. And we added new areas, including the Global Hub and the Hybrid Mash-Up Studio, which produced live broadcasts for our virtual Convening Leaders audience.

Thank you to our Chicago hosts, production partners, and everyone who helped make Convening Leaders 2015 a learning and networking success. And that includes each of you who joined us either in Chicago or virtually through our hybrid event. I hope your experience helps bring out the best version of yourself in 2015!

What Did You Miss?

Volatility, frugal innovation, ProGOtiations, cool room sets, an interactive Lego session, personal health, tech demos, event intelligence — ​all that and much more was on display and in discussion during Convening Leaders 2015. Visit PCMA365 for information on archived sessions — including a complimentary rebroadcast of the best of Convening Leaders available later this month.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.