When Business is Serious – It’s Play Time!

I am excited to join my colleagues in presenting at PCMA’s Canadian Innovation Conference on November 22 – 24. The aim of the conference is to provide professional education for the 500+ professionals attending the event. In preparation for the event, we have been thinking hard about how to deliver a high-impact session for a group of people whose job every day is to design and deliver awesome experiences. Meeting and conference planning is serious business. Big bucks are at stake and the pressure is on to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Fortunately, the choice of what to do for our session could not have been clearer—we… are going to play.


Like many professionals, meeting and convention planners require strong communication skills and the ability to exhibit poise under pressure. They need to be adept at reacting and responding in the moment when things do not go according to plan. In addition, they are expected to have an almost limitless source of new and interesting ideas for events. The challenge is that dealing with all that, while managing tight budgets and addressing the satisfaction of thousands of people, can quickly take a toll on one’s creativity.

“Designing and planning events is about creating experiences that engage people and communicate messages. To do that effectively you must tap into your creative spirit and be open to new ideas and inspirations.”     
              —Kimberly Beaune, CMP, CSEP

Research has proven that play shapes our brains, inspires action, and leads us to be more expressive communicators. Improvisation as a form of play has been studied and proven to turn on self-expression and turn off the self-judgement that can get in the way of our best ideas and creativity. Think about this question:  can you draw?

If you are like most people, you answered “not a chance”. What if you asked a class of grade one students that same question? The only hand that would not be raised would be that of the teacher’s.  Being playful and open to exploration is tougher as we get older and have more responsibilities and stress. We literally have to retrain ourselves to play and be creative the way we were before adulthood took over. And yet, creativity and its cousin, problem solving, are crucial to success.

So how do we rediscover how to play? Here are a few hints:

  • It starts with freedom to play. You have to give yourself permission. Take back your right to play!
  • Establishing trust is the cornerstone. Trust yourself to tap into your creativity and trust others to join in.
  • It is nearly impossible to judge yourself or others when you are laughing. Infuse a little more fun and humour into your daily routine and make note of the difference this creates.

Rediscovering how to play with purpose is a skill we all need to have. Without it, we risk losing the ability to bring our most creative solutions forward to deal with the challenges we all face as adults.

I am looking forward to getting down to serious business at the conference next week. If you are attending, please come play with us!

For more details on this conference, check out the following link: Logo for PCMA Conference

Canadian Innovation Conference November 23rd “Working Improv: Play for Creativity”