Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 10 2014

Brainstorming Convening Leaders 2015

By Mary Reynolds Kane


Imagine walking into a meeting year after year knowing that you have a blank slate. Imagine that the words “this is how we have always done it” are never spoken. Imagine you have carte blanche to change whatever you want.

This is how Kelly Peacy, PCMA senior vice president of education and meetings runs her events and it’s inspiring, exciting and fun to be a part of.

“Make no little plans” – Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect and innovator

Convening Leaders 2015 had its opening brainstorm meeting on March 4, 2014 at McCormick Place. Reps from PCMA, Freeman, McCormick Place, Savor Catering, and Choose Chicago gathered together to discuss the event.

This full quote started off the meeting and defines how PCMA operates as an organization and plans its events. It’s invigorating (and can be terrifying), but staff is never bored.

Each part of the team from the CVB, to its creative team, to all PCMA staff, left this day-long brainstorm feeling invested and excited to be a part of this event.

Here’s how you can plan your brainstorm to ensure you are always focused on engagement and experience as well as creating excitement for your team.

The details come later – the experience should be paramount.

10 Minutes:  Brainstorm #1 Theme

For ten minutes explain what your conference/event has done in the past and how you construct the theme that is woven through the education, experience and event.

25 Minutes: Groups

Break into groups (chosen by the old number in a hat method) and brainstorm. In the last five minutes determine which speaks more to the goals and objectives and choose someone to share out the ideas.

25 Minutes: Share

Each group (in our case 5) gets up and presents the ideas. Questions are asked and opinions are shared. There are no bad ideas and no one says – “that won’t work.”

10 Minutes:  Brainstorm #2 Education Strategy
25 Minutes: Groups
25 Minutes: Share
10 Minute Break
10 Minutes:  Brainstorm #3 F & B
25 Minutes: Groups
25 Minutes: Share
10 Minutes:  Brainstorm #4 Attendee Experience
25 Minutes: Groups
25 Minutes: Share
30 Minutes Recap/Next Steps

After the brainstorm, reconvene with key members of the group and narrow down what can be done this year, what needs to wait for next year and what ideas need more development.


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