Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 18 2014


Bonnie Wallsh, CMP, CMM

Participants at this month’s luncheon program at the Georgia World Congress Center were greeted with musical entertainment provided by Del Baroni when they arrived. Holly Wright, Group Sales Manager, One Ocean provided great visuals of her Atlantic Beach property at her display table while Ross DeLoach of Northlight Photography captured attendees meeting colleagues and welcoming new members and first time attendees. The meeting room was set beautifully with rounds of six decorated with multi-color tablecloths and enhanced with unique centerpieces provided by Mike Whittington, the luncheon sponsor. The chef came out to check on the individual plates of assorted tantalizing desserts that were impossible to resist. Each table was assigned questions about one of our seven member states and Puerto Rico as a way of getting to know more about our chapter states while working together as a group. Kudos to the groups that were able to answer all of the questions correctly. The questions are included in our newsletter and you are invited to test your knowledge of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico.

Melinda Kendall, Senior Vice President, Freeman prepared an outstanding interactive program on Creating Dynamic Conference Sessions which thoroughly involved the audience and even captivated the musicians and the audio visual technician monitoring the audio visual aspects of the program. Melinda used a variety of techniques and demonstrated how planners and suppliers can partner in creating outstanding programming. She noted that the brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things and recommended the book Brain Rules by John Medina which emphasizes that emotions get our attention, we seek meaning before details, the brain cannot multitask, and the brain needs a break. Melinda pointed out that adults learn differently from children. Adults are internally motivated and self-directed, their experiences and knowledge to learning experiences, are goal oriented, are relevancy oriented, are practical, and like to be respected. She introduced many of us to a new term, andragogy which refers to approaches that are problem-based and collaborative rather than didactic and emphasize more equality between the teacher and learner.

Working in groups, participant had an opportunity to share ideas with their seat-mates and observe various audience response techniques. Melinda enhanced her presentation with slides showcasing a range of presentation techniques that engaged the audience. Melinda and I grabbed stools and I interviewed her to elicit information in an informative and educational way. One of the highlights of Melinda’s presentation was her demonstration of Pecha Kucha, a lightening talk in which 20 slides advance automatically every 20 seconds for a 6 minute segment. She touched on trying different techniques such as the TED 18 minute presentation, PCMA’s using 20 minute keynote sessions at their annual conference, town hall meetings, fireside chats, structured discussions, campgrounds following general session keynotes, case studies, and hands-on training. Melinda stressed that meeting objectives must be established to select the appropriate format for the group. Melinda and I debated the pros and cons of using debates as a format and participants voted on whether they would use this technique. It is critical to engage our audience by tapping the expertise in the room, using news-related information, questions and answers, problem solving, hands-on training, and demonstrations. She encouraged planners to use different session formats, start with call for proposals, reach out for the best speakers, invite industry experts, take advantage of industry journalists and bloggers and incorporate timely or controversial topics. She didn’t have a chance to expound upon the importance of room sets but this should be part of every sales person’s arsenal. In conclusion, Melinda urged participants that it’s all about the people, use what you have, don’t be afraid to take a risk, and most importantly don’t be boring.

To view photos from the February 5th Educational Program, click here: Photos