Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 06 2013

If You Don’t Kick-Off Your Meeting This Way…You Should

By Mary Reynolds Kane, Senior Director, Experience Marketing
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller

When the innovators of PCMA’s premier event for meeting professionals, Convening Leaders, invited a group of us together to brainstorm about the theme for 2014, so much more took place.

The Players

The meeting architects met in Boston, the site of Convening Leaders 2014 on Wednesday morning. The group included representatives from Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Advantage Boston, Freeman’s production, sales and creative team, and PCMA’s CEO, Meetings & Education teams, as well as individuals from Marketing, Partnership and the Foundation/leadership.

The Set-up

 Kelly Peacy leading the tour


After a site visit of the Sheraton (the Headquarters’ hotel) and Boston’s architecturally-inspiring Hynes Convention Center, we heard from Kelly Peacy, Senior Vice President, Education & Meetings about what the day would bring. Kelly shared past meetings’ successes and opportunities, the make-up of PCMA ‘s audience, and how the organization views its role in the industry.

The Breakouts

Kelly broke us up into groups of 5 people in 5 stations (with comfy lounge furniture). One person wrote the ideas down and led the group in the following topics: Theme, Lunch, Education outside the classroom, and Experiences.  We received an explanation of the first topic, broke out for 25 minutes and then met back for 25 minutes to hear what the other groups shared and add more ideas.

The Experience

For the next five hours, I was treated to idea after idea from all sides of the meeting – it was brilliant. Everyone brought their unique perspective and we built creative solutions geared toward ensuring the continued evolution of our meeting.

The Results

  Brainstorming session
Collaboration and investment –While always passionate about the event, I am now completely invested in its success. I was part of its genesis so naturally, I care more. Not only did I get to learn more about my fellow team members, I got to share and laugh with the group. I am ready to collaborate with them and really hear and trust their ideas.

Better concepts – Our brainstorm brought out so many incredible ideas, too many to list here. I can’t wait for all of us to see which ones evolve and are implemented this January.

Reinvigorated – After attending a Tuesday brainstorm about PCMA in general and then this one on Wednesday, I felt confident that by Thursday I would have no ideas left. A funny thing happened. On the plane on the way back, I started to think differently about many of my projects – “what if we tried this? How could we increase views here?” I couldn’t seem to stop myself from trying to better my projects. I am excited again and not feeling that horrible “oh my gosh - I was out of the office for two days and now I will never catch up” feeling – I feel like with a little perspective, anything is possible.

Humbled - Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t say that a lot of my inspiration came from the city itself. I stayed at the elegant Fairmont across the street from the Boston Marathon memorial, and because of the location of our event, spent time walking Boylston.

I can’t tell you how inspired I was by the city – less than 3 weeks ago something tragic and incomprehensible happened, but the city has come out of it more beautiful and inspirational than before.

In the past, when an individual rose to a challenge with grace or handled herself with poise in the face of unbelievable adversity, it was admirable. That a whole city has done so, astounds me. Boston, you are now one of my favorite cities. I am humbled by your spirit and beauty.

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