Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 18 2012

To The Point: Adventures in Learning

Deborah Sexton

One size does not fit all.

A former colleague of mine refused to read multi-page reports. He much preferred that a co-worker, supplier, or client just come into his office or call him on the phone to talk to him about it. Was he lazy? No. As I got to know him, I came to realize that he learned much better by having one-on- one dialogues. When he could engage with people directly, he absorbed information much more quickly.

As for me, I’m a visual learner. Show me a picture, a chart, or a timeline of an idea, and it is much more likely to click with me. And I’m more apt to remember what it is tomorrow or next week.

Everyone’s brain is wired differently, as John Medina, Ph.D., Brain Rules author and Convening Leaders 2012 speaker, reminds us. That’s why each of us may excel in one area and fail miserably at another - why Michael Jordan was no good at baseball, and mathematical geniuses are more likely to miss social cues. And certainly that’s why we all learn differently.

Some people absorb more information when they get brief downloads, while others learn better when they participate in longer, indepth discussions. So, this month at Convening Leaders, we shook up the education program format. Concurrent sessions were offered in 30-, 60-, and 90-minute lengths - with some up to three hours. We also expanded the Learning Lounge, offering more flexible options for bite-sized learning, informal discussions with peers, and hands-on demonstrations.

As I write this column before Convening Leaders, I’m looking forward to seeing how this customized approach helps our participants get the most out of their individual meeting experience. And, of course, we also expect that it will give them some ideas for their own meetings. No doubt you survey your attendees or know your members well enough to know how they prefer to learn in the broadest sense. But within every group is a diverse array of learning styles that needs to be served.

As you consider your professional-development path for the upcoming year, make sure to keep in mind how you personally learn best. Do you need to see something to remember it? Or experience it yourself to truly understand? Do you absorb information in a large-group setting or online, or need to personally interact with someone to make it relevant?

Whatever your education style, PCMA offers a variety of ways to learn and grow. Our webinars, online resources, e-newsletters, face-to-face meetings, chapter events, print publications, and numerous ways we connect you with your peers are among the learning opportunities we offer. And we are always open to hearing from you if there is any way that we may better assist you.

Because - as Medina reminds us - regardless of the differences in the way we experience the world, each of our brains is designed for ongoing learning and exploring. PCMA is proud to be the best source for education in the meetings industry, but most of all, we’re proud to help you take your career - and the industry - to the next level.

What Would the Experts Do?

With all this talk of how people learn, ever wonder how neuroscientists approach education at their own meetings? Make sure to check out this month’s cover story on how the experts meet (p. 40). Step inside the world of neuroscience at the NeuroLeadership Summit, learn how professional speakers take the stage at the National Speakers Association conference, and how the HO W Interactive Design Conference created an interactive challenge - plus other examples of how meetings that represent a particular area of expertise help their respective constituents learn best.

Deborah Sexton, President and CEO. Deborah may be reached at deborah.sexton@pcma.org.

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