Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

June 27 2013

A Lesson in How to Close Your Conference

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

Every meeting professional knows that the closing morning of a conference can mean low numbers and low energy, but the final morning of the PCMA Education Conference was 180 degrees from any of those challenges.

I should preface this piece with a disclaimer: I don’t work for Kaplan Mobray. He doesn't know me, and I am not trying to convince you to buy his book. I am, however, going to tell you that Mobray kicked off his closing keynote address with something I really loved hearing.

“I don’t have any slides!” he exclaimed.

SEE ALSO: The Convene PCMA Education Conference Preview: Kaplan Mobray

He replaced the usual slides-on-a-screen/speaker-on-a-stage approach with an insanely energetic and interactive look at what it means to be a leader. When’s the last time you saw a keynote who played the saxophone, blindfolded his attendees and played a good old-fashioned game of telephone? Mine was today.

All too often, the closing note of a conference ends with a whisper. Many attendees have left to return to their own duties at work, and those that remain are tired from three or four full days of learning, networking and running on little sleep. Whispers simply weren't possible in this session. We played games. We threw paper at each other. We had fun.

Leadership Lessons

While I learned a first-hand lesson in the art of keeping energy up at the end of a conference, Mobray’s real assignment was to send attendees home with insights into being more inspiring, more effective and more productive leaders.

“Leadership is a choice,” Mobray said. “How can you lead others if you can’t first lead yourself?”

“Leadership starts when you embrace yourself as a leader,” Mobray added.

Once you’ve done that, though, there’s still plenty of work to do. Mobray highlighted that leaders must work to understand their employees on a more personal level.

“Leaders get to know their people before they get their people to know their tasks,” Mobray said.

After leaders know more about what their employees care about outside of work, it’s time to help bring them along for the journey to your shared success.

“The person farthest away from your leadership has to have the same definition of success that you have,” Mobray said. “As a leader, you’re accountable for making sure that happens.”

Rather than giving employees a checklist, Mobray stressed that it’s important to make everyone feel like they’re part of an organization that’s working toward something bigger.

“People do not get passionate about being part of a tactic,” Mobray said. “They get passionate about being part of a plan.”

To learn more about Mobray and see some clips of his speaking skills in action, visit his official website.

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