Wednesday, January 16, 2013

PCMA and the Letter C

This week I attended (and presented at!) PCMA Convention Association in Orlando, and as nearly 4,000 meeting professionals gathered, there was a definite theme that came up over and over again. 
The letter C. Let me explain, using all the words that came up.

Connection. From handshakes to hugs, from meeting new people, to finding those that you knew from phone conversations and social media, to renewing ties with friends and colleagues known over the years, the human to human connections were continuous from Day 1 until the end.

Hyper Connectivity. The state of the world currently, where we have multiple means to be connected globally through multiple channels. This is a game changer in the way we do everything from shopping to traveling to meeting and we simply must adapt to what is a digital revolution.

Communication.  Messages from the main stages, from PCMA headquarters to the many media in attendance, with letters from members to their government, from presenters and in Peer2Peer discussions, this meeting was about communication at every level.

Collaboration.  We know that no meeting or event happens unless there is collaboration between associations and cities, organizations and venues, planners and their supplier partners, stakeholders, sponsors, presenters… and the audience, the list of ways we need to collaborate and the amount of people required for success is humbling.  Seeing this in action from the perspective of an attendee, a great reminder of what we do and the inherent value.

Coaching.  This is primarily a group of seasoned professionals, with a healthy influx of the next generation of meeting professionals, and being a mentor, a "yoda", a coach to bring them along is critical to the continued health of our industry, and often incredibly satisfying.  Add some appreciation, some "cheering" and the feeling of reward will grow.

Critical Thinking. Thomas Friedman reminded us that in the future, adaptability, resilience and critical thinking will become the most important skill that employers are looking for, and the importance of developing it in ourselves and our children must remain foremost as we move to the future.

Curiosity. Many new things were tried, from session formats to trade show concepts, the addition of a game and more. Meetings should encourage curiosity and embrace discovery.

Community.  One of the key reasons people attend a meeting, one of the key areas associations must focus on for continued growth into the future.  While we are at the beginning of building true online communities that foster year round growth in our associations, PCMA's new Catalyst is an excellent example of a community in progress.

Clarity. In our vision for where we want to take ourselves and our companies, clarity in understanding who we are is important. Clarity, transparency even in our communications with each other - planner to client, planner to partner - will become even more important.

Creativity. We all have the ability to be creative, and with the urgent need for resiliency and innovation, we must all find ways to truly tap into our own style of creativity, and collaborate with others to create our own future.

Creation. Designing our environments, designing our on-line, off-line, f2f and combined experiences is a skill that must be developed, nurtured, embraced and exploited.

Culture. I have said before that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and it has never been more true than now.  David Novak told us every time he meets a group they do the YUM cheer, a great example of a strong culture in action.  Building our organization and association cultures that are brand aligned and attract the right talent to build from is another critical future-facing function.

Curation.  We are familiar with curating content, a strategy for creating an attractive program that brings in the audience, and satisfies the needs of the community.  Curation of audiences is a newer topic, and one being hotly targeted as competition for audiences' time and attention becomes tougher to get. Bringing in key influencers as part of this audience creation is a strategy that some are using, others are learning, and one that some disagree with. We can all agree though that there is no one size fits all solution, and curating is here to stay.

Commitment.  Or Passion. The people who are doing work that matters to them will be the most successful, the happiest, and the best able to adapt to changing circumstances as they follow their heart, and use their heads to make a difference.

Content. 2012 was the year we heard "Content is King" and as the internet continues to explode with content, curation and context will become more critical.  Capturing, repurposing, creating revenue streams with… ensuring your association is offering the best quality content is the reality of what needs to happen NOW.

Context. Content without context is like reading a trashy novel, enjoyable in the moment but not ultimately satisfying. When we are able to provide excellent content, and provide time, discussion, tools and space for learners to find their own connection to and relevance of the content being shared, this is when you will have the most success, and create the desire for people to return again for the excellent learning available.

Cool. PCMA is definitely cool. It is for many I spoke to the "hot ticket", the one meeting they can't wait to come back to, and I think I can safely say that I sure hope to return! 


  1. Great post and round up of your experiences at PCMA Convening Leaders 2013!

    I'd also like to throw another set of "C's" of my own into the hat

    Challenging Convention - one of the main themes that I got out of attending PCMA's sessions was learning and about questioning existing ways of doing things and doing them better/faster/more efficient.

    Much like critical thinking, challenging convention would entail exploring solutions that you could realistically employ that complements existing processes and that isn't "too far out" (like augmented reality for events for instance) to reap gains such as time and cost savings, innovative revenue generation approaches, or even new ways to improve the overall experience of an event.

    In any case, great meeting with you at PCMA 2013 this year, Tahira! I look forward to bumping into you at a future event!


    Will Lam

    1. Will, that is a very thoughtful observation, and absolutely correct. Critical thinking will become the most hire-able skill, and you obviously have it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I am sure we will see you again! Tahira