Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Our Task Force Wants to Change

The December 2009 issue of Convene is just out, and the cover story — “Meetamorphosis” — puts (what we hope is) a new spin on a frequently inert topic: change. How? By punting the question of how to change the meetings forever to an all-star assortment of experts inside and outside the industry. That includes members of the Convene Task Force, whose insightful responses we’re featuring here, as a continuation of the discussion begun in the pages of the magazine:


Founder, Imagination+ Meeting Planners / www.imaginationmeetings.com

I’d like meetings to change to ensure that every person there gets their objectives met. How can we do that? Ask ahead, what are your objectives for coming to this meeting and how can we meet them? Then determine the agenda. I’d like to see more fun stuff that really packs a punch. Some of the stuff happening in Dallas has that experiential stuff in it. I’d like to see more world cafes, more open space, more facilitating than a lecture that is disguised as interactive when the person asks a couple of questions. I’d like to see some more input after the session. So, a report that goes to all who attended each session. I’d like to see some threads that continue for more than one conference. (Encourage people to come for part two.) I’d like, if possible, to see variety in actual venues. So, not always a convention center or a hotel meeting room. How about office space as it relates to the topic? Or how about in a hospital for medical events?

Why? Because all this leads to more input from those actually in the room as opposed to the person presenting, and they will learn more. I’m tired of PowerPoint that says not much. Let’s have “meeting rooms” with lounges in them. Think about environments that do a ton of brainstorming (PR firms?) and what their meeting rooms look like. And what do the people attending actually take with them? And how do they use it? Why not some follow-up on that information?


Meeting professional, Chicago, Ill.

As a meeting professional who finished graduate school in 2008 and is finding it challenging to find a job, I would say that mentors are a wonderful thing and I have enjoyed doing internships — but, still, I wish there were a better way to break into the industry.

My ongoing job search has led me to wonder if getting a CMP is still necessary and relevant. I see a lot of jobs posted on the PCMA job board that are asking for the CMP designation. Are there still organizations that will not hire you unless you have a CMP, even though you have the work experience? I do plan to get my CMP, but as a former student, I wonder if students should be encouraged to fulfill some of the requirements for the CMP while working on their studies, attend conferences to get CEU credits, etc.

Another thing I would like to change is that I would love to see more associations partner on their conferences — only when the situation fits, of course. For example, instead of just an IBM or a Dell conference, have a technology conference. That isn’t the best example, but my point is that joint conferences are a good idea for a number of reasons, including better attendance for both groups (because attendees don’t have to choose one conference over the other), economies of scale (because two organizations working together have a better chance of getting better speakers for a more economical price), and less environmental waste.


Chief strategist, CMM Advisors / www.cmmadvisors.com

It would be nice if hotels used the same software as most planners do. For years now, many planners would use Word or Excel to provide the hotel their meeting specifications or resume. However, hotels continue to use incompatible software so that the information a planner provides has to be re-entered into the hotel’s programming. It’s not only wasteful of time and money, but it allows for errors to occur. In addition, when it comes time for the pre-conference, the planner and the hotel staff end up either looking at different documents or having to compare two or more documents at the same time, allowing for more errors to occur.


Program manager, American Dental Association / www.ada.org

The key to the future of our profession can be summed up in one word: education. That means educating the public, students looking to enter the profession, and our employers. The path leading to the future of meetings management depends on our ability to ensure its acceptance as a true business discipline similar to accounting and human resources. This can only be obtained through a sustained effort to create more standardized college curriculums, measurements of professional standards, and the certification of professionals in the use of standardized practices.

We already do this to some extent, but we have to work harder. In effect, this is what we must continue to change about our industry, because through these efforts, we will not only gain professional respect from our employers, we also will attract higher numbers of students looking for a rewarding professional career. These efforts will also pave the way for changing public awareness of both meetings management and the value of face-to-face meetings.

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