Here at Convene Forum, I spent the morning interviewing Kelly Peacy, PCMA’s senior vice president of education and meetings, for a session called “Convening Leaders: An Incubator of New Ideas.” It was sort of mind-blowingly meta — interviewing a meeting planner about a meeting that she plans for meeting planners, as part of a meeting hosted by a magazine that covers the meetings industry.
Hall-of-mirrors dynamics notwithstanding, our presentation went well, I think. Kelly talked about the risks that she and her team have consistently taken in putting together PCMA’s annual meeting (registration in the round! Learning Lounge! 20-minute keynotes!), and then attendees had small-group discussions to brainstorm innovative new ideas they’d like to see implemented at future Convening Leaders programs. We went over our allotted time by 15 minutes (yes, you read that correctly — PCMA’s meetings chief blew her own schedule), but no one complained, because the report-back discussion we had with the groups was so robust; Kelly couldn’t write down their suggestions fast enough.
Interestingly, one of the risks that Kelly took at Convening Leaders 2012 was to loosen up the schedule, so that instead of every session running for the same set time (say, 90 minutes), each one was slotted for the amount of time that made the most sense for the content — 20 minutes, or an hour, or 75 minutes, or whatever. Apparently our session this morning needed an hour and a half, because that’s what we took and attendees seemed to appreciate it.