For regular attendees at PCMA’s Convening Leaders, the Learning Lounge has become an annual experiment in adult education. From new environments to new presentation styles to new technologies, the Learning Lounge has become a hub of activity. In 2015, though, all that activity created some issues. “Last year, we learned we had a lot of audio challenges,” Kelly Peacy, CAE, CMP, Senior Vice President, Education and Events, PCMA, says. “People had a hard time hearing speakers in various environments within the Learning Lounge.”
After reviewing the feedback, Peacy and her team dove into identify some potential solutions. With support from the PCMA Education Foundation, the organization uncovered opportunities for more effective sound management in a convention space. As many meeting planners work to offer an experience similar to the Learning Lounge for their own attendees, here are three key lessons Peacy and her team used to address acoustic issues in 2016.
1) Spread out for success.
Many meeting planners want to keep attendees close together. After all, traditional wisdom says that proximity powers more casual networking opportunities. However, there is plenty of additional time to help facilitate those meet-and-greet encounters during evening networking receptions and morning breakfasts when hearing educational content is not a top priority.
With that in mind, Peacy and Freeman maximized every square foot of the Vancouver Convention Centre and arranged the Learning Lounge throughout two full floors of the space. Instead of placing every section of the Learning Lounge in one dedicated area, the learning environment stretched across various sections of open concourses in the centre. The result? Attendees felt more comfortable coming and going at their leisure, particularly at The Main Stage of the Learning Lounge. Strategically placed in a passageway at one end of the convention centre, attendees could casually enter and exit — and most importantly, they could hear all the valuable education.
2) Embrace old-school technology.
Solving sound issues doesn’t require investing big budgets into emerging technologies or exploring never-before-used equipment. With the foot traffic near The Main Stage, PCMA and Freeman turned to a tried and true method for clarity: headphones. When attendees arrived in the section, speakers invited each of them to turn to a dedicated channel on the set of headphones placed on their chairs. No one struggled to hear; each attendee was immersed in the on-stage message with the ability to adjust volume as needed.
3) Build new barriers.
With nearly 4,000 meeting planners and suppliers walking the hallways at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Peacy and her team knew that certain portions of the Learning Lounge would need additional acoustic protection. The solution? Tension fabric from Moss Exhibits. PCMA used crest sound enclaves to prevent audio pollution and enable lively small group discussions. In the process of testing products from Moss, they discovered that solving sound issues could also help some organizations solve another challenge: offering more sponsorship opportunities. The easy ability to display graphics and text on the fabric can create enhanced awareness for brands at trade shows and conventions.
Check out CNTV’s interview with Peacy on how the PCMA teams improved sound at Convening Leaders 2016 and sign up below to receive more information next week.