PMI® events not only come in different shapes and sizes but also, it turns out, with different titles for similar events.
Monthly Events – can be seen as dinner, lunch, breakfast or even post-work but pre-dinner events. I am not sure if we have a good name for that last one other than “monthly event’ as apposed to ‘monthly dinner event’. Some formats we have seen:
– a meal with a speaker after a meal. Standard cost covering meal only. This is a pretty standard format but one that people tire of over time. Attendance numbers tend to fall over time. The biggest issue here is that once you sit down at the table the networking opportunities are limited. You are stuck.
– a meal with a speaker before and a second (or the same speaker/different topic) after dinner. Really good value (2 PDU’s) for the money.
– no meal – just coffee and a snack after work and a speaker – 5pm network, 6pm speaker 7pm out of there – all free to attendees. One chapter we know went to this format after years of monthly dinner events and went from an average of 130 people to 300+ every time. Hummmmm.
Regardless of the format, these events require a project-focused speaker who knows how to keep an audience alive and engaged and can impart knowledge attractive to a general audience. Soft skills are good. Stories about local or well known projects are good. Narrow topics are risky.
Most chapters do not want to pay for a monthly event speaker for one hour. However, combined with a workshop the next or previous day – you can get some really great speakers who will deliver a workshop the next day.
PDD – or Professional Development Days. This title is most often used for 1 day events that could include just one speaker or workshop facilitator for the day or 2 speakers for a half day each. We have also seen the term used for a day or two of multiple speakers with an opening and/or closing keynote speaker – more often referred to as a symposium or conference. These events require a very different speaker – one that can teach over a period of 4-8 hours. These folks should be professional trainers already. Less motivational and more educational. These people cost money. Registration fees should be set to compensate for the very best instructors available. A half day or full day with a dud can be a killer. Our suggestion here is that you use the instructor the night before or morning after for a monthly meeting – at no extra cost.
Symposium or Conference. One or two days of multiple speakers, over 2-3 rooms at the same time, with and opening and/or closing keynote speaker. The keynote speaker is critical. They must be motivational, exciting to listen to, somewhat educational and they must leave us with ideas and nuggets going forward. Keynote speaker cost money – money very well spent – but we do not have to over spend. In our opinion, good keynote speakers could also be used for a track session within the conference at no extra cost. Track sessions during the day are typically 45-75 minutes in length. The speakers do not have to be exciting and on-stage kind of people and these folks are often sourced locally. A strong option is to use some of the budget to bring in a professional project management speaker to deliver 2-3 different track sessions. This provides for strong content from the outside that people will not typically see and that can fill 2-3 session holes effectively and safely.
Webinars Chapters are now starting to think about offering online webinars to their members. One hour using WebEx, or Adobe Connect or GoToMeeting. Licences for these products are not cheep and they all require one person dedicated to running it each month.