On 7th -11th January 2018 anybody who was anybody in events in the US descended on Nashville for 3 days of networking, education and discussion at the PCMA Convening Leaders Conference 2018. A small delegation from Europe, Asia and Central/South America joined in the fun to find out how the events industry in North America was changing.
It was my first PCMA event and it was both an inspiring and overwhelming experience. Here’s 10 things I learned:
1. Technology and industry are converging - it’s now a part of every business leader’s core responsibilities and the pace of change of technology is accelerating fast.
2. We are now in a workplace which covers four generations - and designing events that appeal to all generations is a new and growing challenge.
3. If you thought you understood millennials - think again. @chrisriddell shared this lovely photo from a Christmas list showing how embedded technology is into the brains of tomorrow’s event attendees.
4. Nicholas Thompson, Wired Magazine’s Chief Editor (@nxthompson) shared the digital challenges we face in our quest for truth on Facebook, our quest for friendliness on Instagram and our desire for balance between free speech and balanced perspectives everywhere. As insightfully, he discussed whether it was the role of the tech giants that cause these problems, or society at large’s role to fix them.
5. Kendra Hall reminded us of the power of storytelling by sharing some eye-catching research involving writers creating stories to describe previously worthless items on eBay - turning $200 worth of objects into a $8,000 treasure trove.
So what about the world of events:
6. The event tech sector is alive and well with great tech on show, with Freeman’s “The Mix” 60ft interactive screen tracking all parallel sessions and very cost effective event chatbots, which work through text messaging available through @sciensio’s eventbots. Read more here.
7. Events really are big business - the investment from the City of Nashville, the celebrity endorsement (including impromptu event videos from Nicole Kidman) and the big names on stage and global CEOs being interviewed during lunch, all point to the fact that the US event organisers can put on events on a scale that makes us Europeans blink!
8. Our small but very well-formed UK contingent - it was great to be joined by friends and colleagues from the UK at this global event - and delighted that @jsheappey representing the UK events industry was the only MP, from any country, to make the trip!
9. Events for events professionals are a great place to experiment - whatever the scale! Convening Leaders saw the PCMA break ground with mind-blowing left field speakers like Neri Oxman, architect turned professor at MIT Media Lab, and a world record attempt to make the largest collection of people into the shape of an instrument (which remains a French record sadly!).
10. US and European Business Cards are not the same format!
Would I go again? Definitely.
Photography credits: PCMA Facebook