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Executing a Lean-Forward Strategy

Executing a Lean-Forward Strategy

Lessons from PCMA’s Learning Lounge 2.0

Meetings and events matter now more than ever for networking, learning, and connecting. But attendees today have more on their plate both at work and at home, more tech and toys competing for their time, and less attention span than ever before. This is of no fault of their own – this is the world we live in!

So what can a brand or organization do to ensure that the precious days their attendees give up to be at their event delivers value to them? Instead of simply sticking to the same formula that has been done in the past, we must examine all aspects of events and engagement techniques and continue to innovate the meetings and trade show experience. Put in place an environment for attendees to lean forward, engage, inspire, and get inspired – it will build engagement while strengthening the community.

Take, for example, PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2014 Conference, wrapping up today in Boston. The Learning Lounge 2.0, powered by Freeman, is a great example of an organization that made the commitment to try a new method by opening up space, allowing collaboration, and creating opportunities for their community to engage with each other. Here are a few specific executions that can help turn this lean forward concept from a pie in the sky idea into an executable tactic for your next meeting or event:

Bring the Main Stage to the small stage: By bringing keynote speakers like Lisa Bodell, Mike Walsh, and Hilary Mason into the Learning Lounge after their main stage session, PCMA provided attendees with an opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite speakers in a more intimate setting. From robust Q&A sessions, to live interviews, to book signings, attendees were afforded the chance to gain more personal insights.

Connect like-minded individuals: By hosting meetups and round table discussions on popular topics in the industry, the Learning Lounge 2.0 provided an avenue for like-minded individuals to discuss the challenges and opportunities they are facing and gain insights and ideas on how to tackle them.

Experience Intersectional Innovation: As Freeman's experiential marketing agency, FreemanXP designs programs that embrace intersectional innovation by regularly incorporating outside perspectives in its strategic approach. In this case, PCMA hosted a hackathon in the Learning Lounge 2.0 (created by Freeman and FreemanXP), inviting college students and developers to create a new mobile app to increase event engagement. By fostering collaboration with groups outside of the industry, the hackathon will result in more creative and unique ideas than if kept only to meeting and event planners. A hackathon isn’t the only way to create intersectional innovation. Challenge attendees to create a solution to a problem, pair experienced professionals with novices, shake things up a bit, and watch the creative sparks fly.

Play: Everyone needs to let loose a bit from time to time. Give attendees an avenue to play and be creative. In the Learning Lounge 2.0, for example, there was an entire area dedicated to play called, fittingly enough, the Playroom. In the Playroom, attendees were able to show and tell their best and worst event experiences, industry trends, and more. They were asked to share pictures and thoughts, or let it all out using paint, crayons, and markers to write or illustrate their experience.

For more ideas on building community, download the “Unleashing the Power of Community” whitepaper now.


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