4 Innovative Ways to Connect Attendees: A Recap of the PCMA Education Conference

Wow Wow Wow. It’s been over a week and I am still coming down from the event experience of PCMA’s Education Conference in New York City! Meeting industry colleagues, making new connections, brainstorming ideas and getting the motivation to strive higher in your current role is extremely inspiring. But what truly inspired me was #PCMAEC‘s event design and how it promoted connecting attendees in meaningful ways.

PCMA’s main goal was to stimulate thought and creativity by creating smaller communities within a large event. They did so very successfully and also managed to design the event space and group activities to connect attendees on a meaningful level. Here are a few event design ideas from PCMA and how they connected attendees at their educational conference this year.

#1 – Using Art to Reward Meaningful Conversations

Art pieces at PCMA Education Conference that were used as part of the event design to encourage networking

To encourage more networking and meaningful conversations between attendees, PCMA used mini art pieces called Botjoy’s for their event design. These fun little art robots were passed around when someone experienced a great conversation with another attendee. It was a super fun and effective way to connect attendees and inspire more meaningful interactions to happen throughout the conference.

#2 – Leveraging City Venues to Connect Attendees

If you’re in New York City, why not take advantage of all the amazing sites you can visit! PCMA broke attendees into small groups and guided us to “surprise” event venues throughout the city. I was brought to a venue called Convene — a beautiful space for hosting events. Based on questions answered during registration, we were assigned a colored dot on our badge. Using the colors, we broke into smaller groups to discuss specific challenges, issues and ideas. The goal of this exercise was to ignite new ways of thinking, expose event planners to diverse venues in the city, and connect attendees who shared similar challenges. A great event idea and it worked like a charm!

A table labeled with Foodies, part of the event design of PCMA Education Conference

#3 – Hosting “Interest Breakfasts” to Connect Attendees on a Personal Level

Once again, the great event design used registration to determine our specific interests and attendees were grouped based on their passions, interests, and hobbies. For instance, on the front of my badge I had a sticker that said “foodie”. For breakfast I sat with other “foodies” at my table and we could share stories and talk endlessly about our love of food. It was a great way to connect attendees on a personal level and open new avenues for relationship-building.

#4 – Creating “Connecting Rooms” for Attendees to Play, Reflect, Think & Connect

It’s not uncommon to find yourself running from room to room during conferences. So I loved that #PCMAEC transformed the central meeting space into multiple activation zones where you could “play”, “connect”, “reflect” or “rest”. The room was large enough to accommodate everyone and it was where the coffee breaks took place — so people actually went to the room for practical reasons, but had the option to stay. It was a brilliant strategy to bring people together, connect attendees and provide a welcoming space where relationships could grow in a short amount of time.

Check out this video to see the Connecting Rooms in action!

Overall, PCMA was extremely successful at meeting their goal of creating smaller communities in a conference of 1000 people using great event design ideas. I’m going away with a ton of new industry friends and insights that I can pass on to other clients. I can hardly wait to attend the PCMA Education Conference next year and in the meantime, I look forward to sharing some of my insights with you!

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