I saw this video on YouTube, and it was created by Jeff Hurt of Velvet Chainsaw and featured in his Midcourse Corrections blog.  Jeff is an amazing individual, and his company did a terrific job on the content and speakers in the Learning Lounge at PCMA 2011.  Great job, Jeff!

The creative team I work with at Freeman had the pleasure of working with PCMA this year to bring alive their vision to create new education opportunities at their Annual Meeting, so we were able to take a similar concept that we had developed at a Freeman sales meeting, and rework that into what became the Learning Lounge.  Kelly Peacy, Vice President of Meetings and Events for PCMA, had a vision to create an environment where all of the new educators and thought leaders in our industry could come together and share BIG ideas in short periods of time.  She wanted to provide at least (4) 15 minute educational vignettes to each attendee for the hour leading up to the general session.

This vision grew to the point that Kelly and the PCMA team not only re-engineered the mornings prior to the general session, but stuck their necks out and moved all of the late Tuesday afternoon educational programming into this new Learning Lounge space.  Kelly has wanted PCMA to be a laboratory where her members…the best and the brightest in the meetings and events industry…could try new things, some of which may work, and some of which may fail…in the safe environs of the PCMA Annual Meeting.  She is an innovator, and the risk paid off.  This Learning Lounge environment was amazing and has had more tweets surrounding it than any other feature of PCMA!

The role of a partner is not always to take what exists and deliver it again.  It’s to listen to your customer and bring them new ideas and new opportunities to help  deliver on their promise to their audience.  At Freeman, we are encouraged to think about our clients 24/7/365, to be engaging all of the incredible resources and talents that we have, and to help develop solutions.

The meetings industry is on fire with new speakers and educators, and new and better ideas for meeting, networking, connecting, and learning.  Change, as well as change management, are not easy processes.  At a time of great risk, partnerships take on greater importance as they help multiply the successes, and divide the failures.  This Learning Lounge, as well as the co-located Virtual Edge Summit, are two ideas that were a big part of the PCMA experience in 2011.  While there is always the question of whether or not members will resist change, Kelly and PCMA showed that it will always be ready to lead the way in innovation in education.

Congratulations, PCMA 2011 on a PCMAzing Annual Meeting!  You have raised the bar for all of us on better ways to deliver education to our members, better ways to engage virtual audiences, and a road map to achieving that in all of our events.  We look forward to PCMA 2012 in San Diego.  Salud!

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