Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Year in Blog Posts

Photo by Fabrizio Pincelli
There are a lot of ways to mark the end of a year. We decided to look both backwards and forward at the same time, by sharing some of the blog posts we wrote in 2011 that hit on topics or trends that we'll still be talking about in 2012. We chose one for each month:

1. Making Lemonade. Kelly Peacy, PCMA's vice president for meetings and events, took on what could have been a real headache and came up with a solution that was a runaway hit with attendees. (Why it's buzz-worthy now: Her innovation was a keeper, and will return at Convening Leaders 2012 Jan. 8-11.)

2. By the Numbers. When the Convention Industry Council (CIC) revealed the results of the landmark study, "The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy," jaws dropped: Meetings contribute $263 billion in direct spending and 1.7 million jobs to the U.S. economy each year. The CIC study kicked off a wave of new meetings-industry research initiatives.

3. SXSW Cared About Japan. The world watched in sad horror as Japan was devastated in March by an earthquake and tsunami, followed by severe damage at a nuclear power plant. The meetings industry acted quickly, including attendees at SXSW in Austin, who began raising funds to aid in the disaster hours after it began. The Japanese National Tourism Organization reported rising numbers of visitors later in the year.

4. So Long Bubba. It's not really news anymore that iPads can be a meeting planner's best friend. Mandi Kasper, CMP, a member of PCMA's meetings and events team, made this great little video about how she and fellow team members made the leap from paper to tablet.

5. Got Geek? There is a constant churn of new applications created to enhance the productivity and effectiveness of meetings and meeting planners. Planner Liz King hit on a great idea — a meeting! — to test them out. Planner Tech took off in New York, and was repeated in Washington, D.C.

6. Serious Fun. Games, as a way to both connect and educate attendees, came on strong this year, including the pioneering game played by attendees at the Green Meeting Industry Council's annual meeting in Portland.

7. Huyang Is in the Details. Global trends and government policies continue to affect the world of international meetings in big ways, but little things mean a lot, too.

8. Smart Ways to Fight 'Decision Fatigue'. Research into how our brains work has huge implications for how we design and run meetings. (Look for more about brain-friendly meetings in the January issue of Convene.)

9. A Turning Point for Hybrid Meetings? We had it wrong, it turns out, when we predicted that sharing meeting content online would decimate our meetings. Done right, it can have just the opposite effect.

10. "The Future is Crashing Into Us." There was plenty of straight talk when more than 200 attendees gathered at the PCMA Masters Series in Washington, D.C., to discuss what the future of convention exhibits and trade shows might look like.

11. "In Your Mind's Eye." Why meeting planners may be the most imaginative people around, live from our inaugural Convene Forum. Stay tuned for word about where we will meet in 2012.

12. Doing Good by Doing What You Are Good At. CSR is not only not a fad, but is becoming more aligned with business goals. Imagine what could happen if you were to leverage, not just the energy of your attendees, but their deepest expertise. What could they learn from one another while they are giving back?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Doing Good by Doing What You're Good At

courtesy NONDC
When it comes to doing good, sometimes the hardest part is choosing the right idea. But when a plan to tackle a social problem aligns with a business interest, things start clicking, Margaret Coady, director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), told USA Today earlier this year.

It also works that way when an association or organization lines up its public-service projects at the "sweet spots" where their own areas of expertise intersection with social needs. A perfect example was the decision by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to create a project that would address the rebuilding of post-Katrina New Orleans, the site of AIA's 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition.

Knowing the needs of New Orleans, "we can't not do something," Joel Mills, director of AIA's Center for Communities by Design, told Executive Editor Chris Durso, who wrote about the project for Convene. (The project outline is available here.)

Another great example is the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) decade-long commitment to building safe, accessible playgrounds in the cities where they hold their annual meetings. It resonates with AAOS members, public relations director Sandra Gordon told me, because  orthopedic surgeons have first-hand experience with injuries that children can suffer on unsafe playground equipment.

Nearly half of all conferences now include volunteer experiences, according to research conducted at the University of Florida. Just think of all that could be done, and the rewarding experiences that could be created for meeting attendees, if conference-related projects unleashed the full talents of their members.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hybrid Meetings: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

"Most hybrid events are like bad cable access TV."

That's from consultant Sam Smith, managing director of Interactive Meeting Technology, and a co-founder of the successful hybrid meeting, Event Camp Twin Cities.  And I know exactly what Sam means, having suffered through a dismal livestreamed event this week. I actually didn't suffer for long -- after just a few minutes, I turned to something more interesting.

That's one of the points that Sam makes about creating effective hybrid events: People have a lot to distract them, and meeting organizers are not going to engage viewers by simply sticking a camera in the back of the room and switching it on.

For guidance on how you can do a better job, check out the following presentation by Sam and  Event Camp Twin Cities co-founder Ray Hansen.

View more presentations from Samuel Smith