Dahlroth (left) and Freire making sure the changes they've made to the ACMG Annual Meeting go off without a hitch.

Burning Down the Talking Heads House

Here’s how 2017 Changemakers Jane Dahlroth and Penelope Freire are reinventing the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics annual meeting from “talking heads” to peer-to-peer engagement.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Jane Dahlroth, CEM, CMP-HC
Director of Meetings & Exhibits
Penelope Freire, CMP
Meetings & Exhibits Manager
American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics
For continually pushing ACMG to try new and better ideas at its meetings

Making Change
We have changed the way we plan our annual meeting to make it attendee-centric. The enhanced attendee experience adds value by offering more ways to access the content, a variety of learning formats, and places to engage with each other. Some of the newly implemented features in the last year include:

• Learning Lounges on the exhibit floor. These provided 30-minute, bite-sized education on a variety of topics, including improving presentation technology and recertification tips. They also are home to meet ups with top speakers, and there is a Tech Lounge where attendees could receive individualized help.

• Gathering Place. A networking lounge where attendees can recharge their electronics, meet up with colleagues and take time to relax

• ePosters. This service allows attendees to see posters online that they weren’t able to get to during the meeting

• ACMGLive. We live-streamed two sessions each day from the meeting to attendees across the globe.

We implemented these changes to start the process of making each attendee’s experience at the meeting as personal as possible.

What’s Next?
We will be working with the program-planning committee to change the format and the way that education is delivered at our meeting. Our goal is to move away from traditional “talking heads” sessions so prevalent at medical meetings and offer attendees engaging ways to learn. Formats that will promote more interaction between attendees, maintain the interest of the young professionals attending the meeting, and help attendees find meaningful, productive connections with others in the genetics community. People have plenty of sources for information, but fewer opportunities for face-to-face interactions with others in their community.

Change Management
Be ready to address the naysayers and know there will be obstacles along the way. Keep your goals in mind. Realize too that sometimes change will come in baby steps, but as long as your stakeholders see the benefits, you have achieved a needed change.

Think Differently      
As a team, we have striven to look at the way things have always been done and evaluated the situation to see if something needs to be done differently. As long as we have worked together, this has been one of our goals and it has served us, and the annual meeting, well.


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