Can Crowdsourcing Work At Your Conference?

Each year, your education department works to curate the most compelling educational program possible. From combing through academic research to asking volunteer committee leaders for their input, they aim to make sure that your conference’s educational lineup covers the topics and trends most important to your audience members. Despite all that work, it’s impossible to outline a perfect three days of programming. Attendees have specific needs and questions based on their roles and responsibilities. So how do you make sure their time is productive? Consider the world of crowdsourcing.

Rather than relying solely on an educational department’s directions, crowdsourcing gives attendees control of the conversation. At the 2016 Education Conference, the PCMA team continued to test crowdsourcing. After experimenting with a low-tech, write-your-idea-on-a-post-it-note approach at the same event in 2015, this year’s crowdsourced conversations leveraged the power of technology. By allowing participants to submit ideas early during registration and on-site via the mobile app, the process fueled a more robust slate of sessions that included material such as “You Have An Event Hashtag – Now What?”, “Event Experience Design Strategy – Where Do You Begin?” and “Firearms at Events – What’s in Your Control?”

As I chatted with the PCMA community, it seemed that the experiment worked well with the friendly group of meeting professionals and suppliers. But can it work with other conference groups? What if your attendees are more comfortable in traditional educational environments? Check out this interview with Carrie Johnson, senior program manager at PCMA, for three key considerations before taking the crowdsourcing route.