Monday, February 1, 2010

Help PCMA Crowdsource Session Topics For June Education Conference!

I read an article today written by one of my online colleagues that was very timely.  Lara McCulloch-Carter, in her Blog post “Ten Creative Crowdsourcing Ideas For Event Planners,“ offers some great insight into best practices, for leveraging the collective knowledge and creativity of your event audience.

As Lara’s article stated, according to Wikipedia the definition of Crowdsourcing is

“the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor and outsourcing them to a group of people or community through an open call to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.”

This year I have been appointed by PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) as the co-chair (along with Bob Hancock) of the 2010 PCMA Education Conference taking place in Montreal June 13 -16, 2010. This event is a robust three day program designed to gather meetings industry professionals for a highly interactive program based on the hottest issues, topics and trends in meetings today. If you’re looking for a conference focused on shared ideas and solutions to our industry’s challenges, this is the event for you.

One of the objectives of this event is to experiment with alternative conference formats and new technologies.  As part of the schedule (15) peer-to-peer networking sessions (divided into five tracks of three for each time slot) will be offered. The topics will be determined through a Crowdsourcing process. The conference planning committee met on January 10 and developed the following list of potential topics to get the brainstorming started.

  • Greening Practices
  • Knowledge of financials and impact on event budgets
  • Hotel poachers/Internet pirates
  • ROI
  • How to build influence within your organization; managing boards; managing up; new trends in management and leadership
  • Medical Meetings; Legislation; Tarp; PhRMA
  • Event design; branding and theme
  • Attendance Building (Registration)
  • Co-location – build alliances (i.e. Two Associations. combine Trade shows)
  • Supplier/Planner collaboration & relationship building
  • Social Media with Events
  • Time Management and
  • Creating Sponsorship Opportunities
  • Justification of Meetings/Face to Face
  • Adding Fun to your events
  • How to get Attendees Engaged in Events
  • Team Building

As I previously mentioned this list of topics is a starting point.  We are very interested in hearing from PCMA members, and other event professionals, to identify which subjects and issues are of the greatest interest.

The committee’s goal is to have a final listing of topics developed by March 15, 2010. Please respond to this Blog article, in the comments section, and share your thoughts and ideas with us. We look forward to receiving your feedback!

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Hurt February 1, 2010 at 10:42 am

Here are a few of my suggestions:

1) Using Good Adult Learning Techniques in Conference Sessions
2) Alternative Onsite Presentation Options (Besides Lectures-Monologues and Panels-Dialogues)
3) Increasing WOM Marketing Using Social Media Platforms
4) Creating Hybrid Events


Michael M McCurry CMP February 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm

@Jeff Hurt,

Thanks so much for sharing the ideas… much appreciated.



Dave Lutz February 2, 2010 at 5:46 am

Damn, Jeff got here before I did. :-)

My knee jerk was that the starting list was more tactical than it should be and you needed some adult learning best practices thrown into the mix. He covered that, so put 2’s behind his. The other topics that I dig are ones that help 1) Improve Attendee engagement and 2)help attract new registrants (but I wouldn’t call that registration). Another new idea might be to address customer service and how you make attendees and exhibitors feel special. i.e. easy to do business with.

I really like this approach. Figure out the best topics and go find the best people you can to present or help facilitate. Good luck man!

Dave Lutz – @velchain


Paul Salinger February 2, 2010 at 8:59 am

Double damn that the pervasive Jeff Hurt got there first. I also vote for Adult Learning Practices.

But, here’s my twist. I would add a topic to the list that is along the lines of “Learning and Event Design – From Audience Concerns to Communication Solutions”. This would be a session where someone really reinforces the approach that starts with strategy and makes tactics and tools the last thing you think about. It would take them through audience segmentation, audience concerns, how to create the right objectives, how to create fundamental shift messaging and the right story and how to create the right communication solutions to deliver the right messages – then it would talk about the tactics of how to deliver a dynamic, value-rich event with the right tools for the given audience.

Event planners have a habit of starting with the tactics first, and that’s the wrong approach IMO.

BTW – this approach is useful for topics like Social Media and Events and Creating Hybrid Events as well.

I might actually make Jeff’s topic about hybrid events something like – Knowing When to Choose the Right Type of Event and Combining Face to Face with Virtual for Your Event.


Ryan Hanson February 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm

@Paul Salinger, Paul is right on with his line: “This would be a session where someone really reinforces the approach that starts with strategy and makes tactics and tools the last thing you think about.”

As an Event Designer I have been touting this concept for a bit and clients are starting to ask for it… Very timely.

Check it:

Or in the words I am contemplating for my site:

The nature of events is changing. Amid changing values and demographics the ideas of community and interaction are increasingly valuable. Organizations around the world are realizing experience of ‘the Brand’ no longer exists as a term of reverence, but is increasingly being devised in terms of user relationships with products. In a world in which everyone has an opinion and technology has given a platform to each voice, smart companies are listening. Events continue to emerge from the marketing mix as an ever-better way to generate user experiences and build brand loyalty.

The question is how to most effectively use meetings and events to do this. The answer lies in strategic event design. Great companies build identity and brand affinity through authentic experiences, one person at a time. Further, these event experiences have to be rooted in the strategic messages of the company – be it a launch of a new product or the communication of core values – and created to drive the dialogue of an audience, as a vehicle specifically tailored to their needs.


Michelle Bruno February 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

What about a topic that covered social media tools NOT Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or even Google Wave and whether they are useful for events”

I also like technology trends topics. Maybe some of the event technology developers could use the session to announce the next great iteration of their particular application as well as discuss innovation in their space. Have a panel that represents mobile, virtual event platforms, social networking platforms, CRM, social bookmarking and the “off the wall category.”


Amanda Gourgue, CMP, LEED AP February 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm

@Michelle Bruno,
I found out this week about a great site that is wonderful for events. It is for polling of attendees. Check it out at!


Eileen Kugler February 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm

How about breaking down “attendance building” more —
* Reaching out to diverse audiences (cultural, generational, racial, etc.)
* Engaging diverse audiences at the conference, i.e., not just preaching to the choir.


Michael M McCurry CMP February 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Hey all, thanks for your comments!


I agree, the initial list was tactical, but really just a starting point, developed by the Conference committee. Adult learning best practices is a hot topic and I hope the responses I get from Event pro’s bear that out. Your other ideas are great!


This is great feedback and much appreciate your insight and perspective. Event Design is certainly of interest to many people so I hope we can somehow craft a session that addresses the planning in an attendee engagement rich environment.


Great suggestion on the alternative Social Media Tools… we will add that to the list of potential topics and certainly technology trends will be considered.

Thanks all for your contributions.



John Palmer, CMP February 3, 2010 at 3:37 pm

“Should Corporate Meeting Planning be a Licensed Practice?”


Midori Connolly February 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I have a few…of course :-)
As I am obviously going to make the CSR-centric suggestions.
How about a panel on green event certifications from experts who have actually DONE the work?
The difference is that I’d like to make it a Fireside Chat format (think different environment from a traditional breakout room). Just call me Barbara Walters trying to really cull the knowledge from these experts while also infusing their personal anecdotes – so certification doesn’t seem like such a distant and irrelevant goal. Hearing the human element of their experiences is so much more fun and engaging (there’s that magic word). We’d be able to do the bulk of the chat as an interactive Q&A, collecting questions ahead of time as well as live polling for a remote audience and good old-fashioned hand raising for the room :-)

I’d also love to do an “EventCasting” presentation – my twist on webcasting/streaming and all that that entails (choosing a platform, when to use a producer, how to coach speakers, what is needed…what is NOT needed).

Oh dear, I could go on forever!!
Midori Connolly, Chief AVGirl


Midori Connolly February 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Ooo, I forgot one:
“When the boss says no: How to justify Social Media for your organization.” To warm up conversation, this would ideally be another panel presentation using video testimonials and living case studies for the first half of the session. For the other half, the audience would be asked to share their own stories and challenges to be addressed by the panel of experts as well as their peers in the audience.
This is a HUGE challenge that I hear almost daily :-)


Michael M McCurry CMP February 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm

@Midori Connolly,

As usual that mind is always thinking …. thanks so much for your suggestions.

I love the fireside chat idea… who is gonna provide the wine, cheese and crackers though … :)

Thanks again for your contributions to this discussion.




Lee Nold-Lewis February 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Hey Mike,
Following onto the PCMA Programming Committee conversation and reading these comments, I wanted to shout out the necessity of focus on the cusotmer experience, ie. customer service. Such elements are fundamental and yet sometimes “assumed.” Regardless of the audience, the brand, etc., the focus on how people are treated is critical to an event’s success-really click with Dave Lutz’s comment above. Developing a strategy with customer service as part of the vision, the tactics of the “what” flow out of that strategy–this IS the essence of the face to face meeting we all want to see survive/flourish. So, interwoven in all we do should be the customer service focus…


Michael M McCurry CMP February 11, 2010 at 12:09 pm

@Lee Nold-Lewis,

thanks Lee for your contribution to the discussions.

Customer Service is top of mind for most people looking to thrive in the “new normal” for doing business.

It will be interesting to see what topics actually evolve from this discussion.




Kevin Richardson February 11, 2010 at 11:06 am


I love the forum here. Leading by example to reach outside and let those thoughts/ideas flow in. Bravo.

Why Use Social Media
Social technologies are an important topic but in the end are tools (tactical). What I’d like to discuss is how you determine the reasons to use social networks and how to determine where you are on the spectrum (ie: are you currently listening or are you all the way to embracing) and how one moves from one area to the other on the continuum. Then, once you determine where you are and where you want to go strategies & tactics can be put in place to get there using social media tools.

Operationally we all strive to help our customers succeed. However our CRM process needs a fresh look. The social revolution is our customer’s (associations, exhibitors, attendees) way of telling us that they want to be more engaged. If we accept that belief then we’re now open to the idea that CRM + social platforms = Customer Managed Relationships (CMR). This developing paradigm then feeds the need for social networking and how to get engaged.

Doing it Social – B2B
The basic idea here is to break down the myth that being social in a B2B environment is different from B2C social. I see this education session being a fishbowl opportunity to talk about how we do business together (B2B) and then talk about how we translate that to social. What we’ll find is that nowhere in the way we do business with each other do we engage COMPANY > PEOPLE. It’s ALWAYS PEOPLE > PEOPLE.


Michael M McCurry CMP February 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm

@Kevin Richardson,

These are some fantastic ideas Kevin.. thanks for bringing them to the surface!

I hope you will be able to join us in Montreal for this event.




Amanda Gourgue, CMP, LEED AP February 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I would like to see a couple of topics related to CSR

1.) How to motivate people to be socially responsible? I think people are tired of hearing about CSR and that is just crazy! So many people think that they are sustainable but they couldn’t be further from it.

2.) LEED for meeting professionals. It was just announced that the Green Associate accreditation is available in Canada. Also with the new Venue Selection Guide this is a great and timely topic.

Amanda Gourgue, CMP, LEED AP (The only Certified Meeting Professional who has their Leadership in Energy and Environment Design)


Dave Martin October 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm

At the Electronic Retailing Association we are planning to crowdsource our education sessions for our mid-year conference and are struggling with the best platform. We did a call for entries (and have received a HUGE number of submissions) but are looking for platforms that can support voting (thumbs up/down) on the submitted sessions. Any ideas for platforms that work well?? We haven’t found anything and are planning to use Survey Monkey…


Michael M McCurry CMP October 24, 2010 at 8:43 am

Hi Dave,

Thanks for reaching out to me. Actually there is a tool by Google that may meet your needs. It is called Google Moderator. (url = This application allows users to list their ideas and then other users can vote on them. It’s not a bad solution.

Before deploying it I would spend some time getting to know this application though, as it is a little confusing at first.

Good luck and feel free to contact me if you want to chat about this.



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