What’s the Word at the Education Conference?


Convene’s editors bring you the best of what they heard during Monday’s sessions at PCMA’s Education Conference in Cleveland. Here are some sound bites:

Great brands ignore trends. Great brands have discovered that if you follow trends, you are following what everyone else is doing — and blinding yourself to breakthrough ideas. Ask yourself: What is a trend in your industry that you should challenge or ignore?”

“Great brands don’t chase customers. Be clear about who you are for — and who you are not for. Operate like a lighthouse and let people navigate to you.”

“If you want to resonate emotionally with your audience, ask yourself, what business am I really in? You maybe be selling a meeting but are you really in the business of being a matchmaker — bringing people together who desperately need each other.”

— Denise Lee Yohn (pictured), Main Stage, “How to Build a Rockstar Brand.”


We have to be careful about our gut feelings because our gut can be contaminated.”

— Paulette Brown, at “Remove Implicit Bias to Improve Interactions,” Ascent Studio.


“This is too exciting a world we live in to be handcuffed.”

Don Neal, at “SELL OUT! 6 Big Ideas Guaranteed to Increase Event Attendance,” Experience Design Studio, on the gap between having bold, new ideas and not being able to execute on them because of lack of organizational support.


“Health-care compliance is not an American issue. This is a global initiative.”

— Pat Schaumann, at “Medical Industry Maze: Reacting to Regulatory Changes,” Medical & Wellness Studio, on the need for planners to stay focused on the constantly changing regulatory landscape.


“Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure — the feeling we get when we step outside of our comfort zones. To avoid [that feeling] we armor up with 1) perfectionism, 2) withdrawal and 3) creating worst-case scenarios to justify why we aren’t doing something.”

“Professionalism on its own isn’t a bad thing. The problem is with too much professionalism — and how it can prolong the status quo.”

“When leaders are comfortable admitting their mistakes, it’s like a flywheel — it helps other to admit their own mistakes.”

Kristen Przano, at “Beyond Professionalism: Channeling Vulnerability,” Ascent Studio.


“How would you like to have your doctor perform a procedure on you that he or she hasn’t practiced since they completed their residency program 10 years ago? As associations, we need to up our game and deliver hands-on opportunities to practice the procedures that are on our PowerPoint slides.”

Robert Heard, at “Hands on Learning for Medical Events,” Medical & Wellness Studio, on the need to ditch the traditional 60-minute lecture format at medical events.


“Humans are shockingly curious creatures; if you tease a message with ‘clues’ you enhance engagement. So be a tease, pique people’s curiosity with your event design.”

“One-hundred-and-fifty people is the upper bound for the number of social relationships that our brains can hold onto. In casual networking sessions, groups of four seem to naturally occur — when you add a fifth person, the group tends to split. It’s a simple thing to keep in mind when you curate small clusters of people at events.”

“Our memory is biased to remember the peak moment of emotional intensity — negative or positive — and the end of experiences.”

Charlotte Blank, at “Designing Our Events as Experiences,” Experience Design Studio. 


“You need to find venues that have bigger seats than you did 20 years ago.”

— Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic, on the troubling statistics of inactivity among Americans. 


“Prepping for a two-minute pitch might take 20 hours because you have to be prepared for the questions that come after it.”

Christopher Sutter, at “Business School: Pitching Perfect: Secrets to Persuasive Arguments,” Challenge Studio.