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Crowdsourcing for Better Speakers and Better Content: Association of Proposal Management Professionals Thinks Outside the Call for Proposals

A conference is only as good as the knowledge and wisdom attendees gain. When an association hosts their annual event, the session’s topics set the pace for the conference itself, as well as the year-long journey that association takes next.

APMP, the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, has been hosting Bid & Proposal Con for 29 years. It’s the world’s largest conference of its kind and brings together hundreds of global industry players. As APMP approached their conference’s 30th year, they looked back on their former years of conference planning and had a startling realization. They had been going about speaker selection processes the exact same way. Like any modern association, they had evolved over the course of 30 years. They changed the way they communicated, educated, and managed the certification process, so why were they still maintaining the same process of speaker selection? Every year they would put out a call for presentations; receive topic suggestions; select based on abstracts; present that topic. There was no excitement! They wanted to try something new.

Noting the success of numerous national GoFundMe campaigns, they decided to incorporate crowdsourcing into their session and speaker planning strategy. Instead of deciding what topics and themes their conference attendees should be learning about, they turned the model around and asked, “what do you want to learn?”. They reached out to their association’s regional sub-committees and asked each of them to send in 10 topics. Not only did their subcommittees jump on the opportunity, sending in topics, but they submitted them far in advance of the deadline. Overall, APMP received 60 more topics then they ever had in past years. Members loved the fact that they were the ones driving the content and were eager to be a part of the process. But it didn’t stop there.

Once they had received topics from their members, the association posted them online and allowed members to vote on their favorites. Simultaneously, they had hopeful conference speakers log-on and submit short articles explaining why they should be chosen to speak on one of the proposed topics. This gave the unique opportunity for lifelong speakers to expand their horizons and empowered new speakers with the confidence to send in submissions to present on their niche area of expertise. APMP received over 100 more speaker submissions than they usually did. This also impacted the type of sessions they could organize. Because of the wide variety and new types of submissions, they planned less lecture-based presentations and organized more panels, roundtables, and interactive sessions.

APMP also saw massive increases in their conference registrations. They sold out the conference at nearly 1,000 attendees six weeks before the start of the conference.  The hotel block obligation was met eight weeks prior to the start of the event. Attendees were excited to participate in sessions they had submitted and voted on and the rate of e conference registrations reflected that.

This year, APMP will host their 30th Bid & Proposal Con in San Diego from May 15th – May 18th. With sessions titled “The Power of Women in the Industry”, “Video/Virtual Proposals – Are you Ready?”, “Latest Gadgets, Tools, and Tech for Proposals”, and “Qualities of a Team-First Culture” APMP and its members are eagerly awaiting education content they helped to plan and design. This year and well into the future, it will all be about giving APMP attendees what they want through their own exceptional crowdsourced topics.

Association TRENDS loves hearing amazing success stories from our association friends. Our unique professional space encourages collaboration and learning from one another. We loved APMP’s crowdsourcing concept so much, we decided to incorporate it into one of our own events. We are now accepting session topic ideas for AMS Fest! What topics do YOU want to see presented at this year’s AMS Fest in Chicago taking place June 6th – 7th? Click here and submit your ideas today!

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