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Consensus – The Association Leadership Challenge

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 5, 2019
By Rick Church, Head Coach, CM Services Inc.

Consensus is a collaborative process by which decisions are made based on overwhelming agreement of a group. Ultimately a decision by consensus is one that everyone supports (or can live with).

Associations are groups of people or companies with similar interests or in similar professions or industries. 

Even though bylaws and rules of order typically set numerical requirements for voting, associations by their very nature must make many decisions through a consensus process because there isn’t one person in charge or one “owner.” 

But how does an association leader help the association achieve decisions through consensus? This can be especially challenging because most association leaders are volunteers who have never followed a consensus based decision-making process. They’re used to making the decisions on their own or within a small leadership team. 

Here are some keys to follow in helping your association implement a successful consensus-based decision-making process:
  1. Clearly define up front for your Board or Committee the consensus decision-making process. Often a vote is necessary and when votes are taken, majority (or bylaws) rule. However, effective Executives understand that the best decisions for associations don’t rely on a “vote” and that a decision will be based on the overall consensus of the group. Get a commitment from your group to reach the decision through a consensus-based process.
  2. Lay out the challenge or issue that needs to be addressed and relate it to the common goal of your organization. Developing consensus is a collaborative process. It’s much easier for a group to achieve consensus when they’re striving to reach a common goal.
  3. Establish the values of trust and openness. In order for a true consensus to be reached, those participating must feel comfortable enough to be completely open and honest. To do so, the group must have trust with and for each other. Consider starting each meeting reminding your group about these values and their importance in reaching good decisions through consensus.
  4. Don’t allow one opinion to dominate discussion. As a consensus builder, it’s your job to make sure there is even handed discussion and input on all topics discussed.
  5. Get everyone to participate. True consensus cannot be achieved if the group hasn’t considered all sides of an issue. Be sure to get full participation from your group. If someone isn’t participating, ask them for their input.
  6. Effective facilitation. As the leader, your job is to facilitate the decision-making process – not to influence it. You should keep your opinion to yourself during the process. If, toward the end of the discussion, you feel something hasn’t been brought up for consideration during discussion, don’t bring it up as your opinion. Instead, say something like, “I’ve heard several different points of view on this subject. One additional point of view, that I haven’t heard yet might be….”. Let the group discuss it.
  7. Find common ground and build on it. At the end of the discussion, when all points of view have been thought through and shared, find some common ground amongst the various opinions that have been espoused and use it as a building block to reach the final decision.
Helping your organization come to decisions through consensus can be very challenging. However, associations that are healthy and survive long-term follow the consensus process for decision making. Help assure the success and longevity of your organization by implementing these steps and becoming a consensus builder.

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Association Management is a Team Sport

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 25, 2019

By Beth Quick-Andrew, CAE, Q&A Business Solutions 

With a Major League Baseball game on in the background as I write this article, I am reminded of why I am such a big baseball fan. Baseball is a great metaphor for association management. We must work together at all levels of the organization in order to put a great team on the field to ensure a win for our players…our valued members!

Welcome to the Show!

When a baseball player starts in a major league game, it is a lifelong dream realized. When a member joins his or her professional or trade association, it solidifies his or her commitment to their profession or industry. At the national or international level, major league resources such as industry research, large conferences with varied education and sponsors, call in help desks for questions, affinity discount programs, just to name a few are available to members at their fingertips. Members may join their national/international professional or trade association by way of a chapter or member section, having had a great experience connecting with peers geographically or by specialization.

Conversely, national/international members join a chapter or member section to have a more individualized connection to the association. Components provide local or regional networking opportunities with the ability to truly connect face-to-face with peers in the profession or industry. The value of face-to-face interaction is immeasurable. This is where a referral may be given, a deal may be made, or a job lead is handed off. This teamwork happens when people unite for a common purpose. 

Follow the Same Game Plan

To generate a win for the members, it is important that all levels of the organization follow the same game plan. Best-selling author Simon Sinek reminds us in Start with Why to focus on why the organization exists and how each level of the organization can support the why. What does this mean for the association at all levels:
  • We are all on the same team. Members are not “your members” (visualize finger pointing at each other) …they are “our members” collectively regardless of national/international or chapter membership. We are all on the same team.
  • National/International staff is not the umpire who misses a call. There is no need for chapter managers to charge out of the dugout and argue the call. Don’t assume ill intent. Generally, there are very valid reasons for any decision.
  • Whenever possible, it important to keep all team members in the loop when decisions are being made and avoid unilateral decisions that impact multiple levels of the organization. Make sure the signs are communicated effectively.
  • Teams get off track when team members don’t feel heard. Listen to what each member of the team is communicating. Keep the focus on a winning strategy for all members.
  • Professionals manage the association at all levels. Don’t assume that a chapter administrator/executive is just “an admin doing nametags.” Many chapters are managed by association management professionals who hold the CAE credential and/or work for Association Management Companies. They swing for the fences every day.
  • A key to team success is positioning members where they can be the most successful. Some member offerings are best done with the resources of the National/International organization. Others may be best offered through a chapter or component. Levels of the organization should not be mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. One player rarely makes a double play alone.
Put Them in the Hall of Fame
  • Success is the residue of hard work and lots of practice. Celebrate those successes and engender innovation at all levels of the organization. Awards programs are great for recognizing the unique, creative and impactful member efforts to advance the mission of the association.
Game time situations require different strategies depending on a variety of factors. Always remember, a grand slam can happen with any combination of base hits, walks and a big home run. Make sure your coaching staff is focused on positioning members to swing for the fences no matter where they are in your organization.

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Connecting Culture to Brand

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 18, 2019
by Ken Monroe, Chairman & CEO, Bostrom

There’s no question that an organization’s culture can be challenging to precisely define and measure, but we all know it is essential that the effort be made to design, establish and maintain a strong culture. Although there has been significant attention focused on organizational culture in recent years, there has been more dealing with the concept of brand. The treatment of brand began mostly as a marketing concept, but has morphed into a broader concept that encompasses the overall identity of the organization. Culture and brand are closely related – or they should be. The culture of an organization may be viewed as its “personality”. It captures the essence of the organization’s purpose, its worldview, and its values, sometimes characterized as “how it does business”. It is something that emerges from, and is expressed through, the everyday functioning of the organization. Brand is more of an external identity concept. An organization’s brand captures how the organization and its products/services are viewed by the outside world – its customers or members, its suppliers, and the community at large with which it comes into contact.

Both culture and brand share the need to be genuine in order to be effective and positive drivers of organizational success. As the saying goes, you can’t fake sincerity, at least not in the long term. It is essential therefore that the “personality” of the organization (its culture) and the “perception” of the organization and its products/services (its brand) be in sync. If they are not, neither will be believable or effective. 

A common description is that “culture is brand and brand is culture”. However, there is a hierarchy and sequential dimension to the relationship between them. Culture is a more fundamental dimension of the organization. It emerges from within as the ultimate impact of how the organization functions, the attitudes and behaviors of its employees (alignment from the very top to the very bottom), the way customers or members are treated, and the true and ongoing commitment to quality of product/service. This is how the personality of the organization manifests itself. It is how it does business and is multi-dimensional to the extent that everything the organization does defines and affects it. If a consistent culture is not evident on the inside of the organization, desired outside perceptions will not follow. 

Brand is a similar but more contained or specifically targeted phenomenon. It emerges mainly from how the product/service is defined, marketed, delivered, and stands the test of time. It is closely related to the organization’s value proposition in that it relates to how others -- but mainly existing or potential members/customers/clients -- perceive the likelihood of receiving high quality and good value from their interactions with the organization, especially related to services, purchases, or other business interactions. 

It is essential, therefore, for culture and brand to complement each other. But in thinking through the process of creating and maintaining a strong culture and a strong brand, an organization must start with culture. Culture can and should be the base for establishing a strong brand. If the organization starts with a brand concept, and then tries to fit its culture to the characteristics of the brand, there is a strong potential for culture to become mostly a marketing tool and not a way of doing business, and as a result, it will not be believable. 

For both organizational culture and brand, it is important to distinguish between desired and actual. Culture and branding each take a lot of introspection and discipline to define and achieve. Each requires “walking the talk” once it is defined and shaped. To be successful, both require long term commitment. Branding is not a short term, product-specific marketing campaign, and culture is not an organizational development program aimed at correcting a specific problem. 

For such long-term efforts to be successful, ongoing attention is needed. It is a total commitment to understanding and defining the culture the organization wishes to establish and live up to, starting with the everyday activities of all employees. Branding has similar needs, encompassing product/service design, communications (including website design), customer interaction protocols and pricing. In both cases, BEHAVIOR DRIVES SUCCESS for both culture and brand. Bostrom recently went through a corporate rebranding initiative that used elements of our culture surrounding creativity, discipline, trust, collaboration, transparency, accountability, and fun. We looked at what had contributed to our longevity in the market, to our association partners we’ve had for one to thirty years, and the transformation our company has recently gone through to deliver modern services we feel have the most impact on our client success. It was critical we matched our brand with who we were culturally as a company. 

Differentiation is a key need that organizations require for business success. How does the organization make itself and its products/services stand out from its competitors? If there is one marketing concept that best generates business success, and is also one of the most difficult to achieve, it is market differentiation. A key to differentiation may be found in organizational culture and branding and the relationship between the two. An organization that has a strong and consistent culture and brand identity has a good base for defining and communicating what is unique about its products/services and how it provides them. The core tenet of good salesmanship is for the salesman to gain the trust of the customer before “selling” the product (i.e. to sell him/her self first). Applied to overall organizational differentiation, this core tenet of salesmanship can leverage a strong corporate culture and brand to make the organization and its products/services stand out as distinct (and hopefully better). 

WRITE IT DOWN. For both culture and brand, there is sometimes a tendency to “talk it through” and then summarize the final result as a set of values and behaviors (culture) and a concise characterization of the brand as a “brand promise” or “tag line”. These can be important and valuable ways to communicate the organization’s culture and brand, but they are not enough. It is too easy to gloss over important nuances in such concise characterizations. The development process for both culture and brand should carefully document, ”in writing”, the major discussion points and decisions that go into generating them. Seeing results on “paper” is an excellent way to quickly spot gaps and inconsistencies that need to be filled or clarified. The process of designing, assessing, and implementing strong and sustainable culture and brand is substantially enhanced through documentation. Characterizing the results for purposes of communication in the form of a values statement, a brand promise, or a tag line are good ideas. But for both the essence of the culture and the brand to be something that is ingrained in all employees and participants in the organization and something that they walk around with in their heads day-to-day, documentation far beyond these concise communications tools is needed. 

In today’s complex, fast changing, and competitive environment, organizations must strive constantly for consistency in who they are, what they do, and how they do it. A combination of strong, mutually reinforcing organizational culture and branding are keys to success in differentiation in the marketplace, and in assuring that the organization provides products and services that meet the needs of its customers or members, and lives up to the expectations of both the stakeholders and the organization providing the product/service.

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Cultivating Meaningful Working Relationships Across Generations

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 11, 2019

By Carly Silberstein, DES, CED, CEO, Redstone Agency

For the first time in history, we have four generations active in the workforce. Day in and day out we hear about the challenges of this reality on society, businesses, and associations alike. Let’s take a quick look at a few ways that we can all cultivate more meaningful working relationships by focusing on the common ground, or similarities, and leveraging our differences.

Understanding 

Association/workplace training and education on generational and societal research is incredibly beneficial (XYZ University can help with this). This type of training can help provide a common ground or understanding of where our fellow colleagues and members are coming from. What is their value system? Which life events, societal shifts and/or technological advancements have shaped your colleague/members lived experiences? How has this possibly impacted their upbringing? Armed with this factual data, people can grasp some of the realities that may not have been known to them or may have been accepted as stereotypes or generalizations. It is also recommended that associations and organizations do what they can to determine the preferred method of communication for each person (member/employee). Communication is central to everything that we do in all aspects of our lives, so understanding communication preferences and finding a common ground, is essential for establishing productive and meaningful working relationships. 

For more background information on this topic, please read “With 4 generations in the workplace, employers expected to juggle vastly different expectations”. 

Open-mindedness and non-judgmental approaches 

It is important that organizations foster safe environments where people are encouraged, celebrated and acknowledged for their unique contributions. While easier said than done, one way that associations and corporations can do this is by facilitating cross-generational work teams, where it makes sense. In certain industries or work environments this is not always possible, in these cases, encouraging ad hoc brainstorming or cross-departmental ideation, will allow people who don’t often have the opportunity to work together, to come together, share their thoughts, ideas and experience related to the problem or scenario at hand and will likely yield a better result than if the problem was solved in isolation. This type of work ought to be highlighted and celebrated. 

Collaboration versus competitiveness – Working and learning from one another – Knowledge exchange versus transfer

This can be facilitated through workplace or association programs such as co-mentorship, buddy system, sessions and workshops which highlight different members and employee skills and strengths, award programs (new member / employee versus legacy), etc. Similar to the examples provided above (creating an open-mindedness and non-judgmental work environment), we need to be thinking about opportunities for collaboration versus working in silos. 

Patience 

We are constantly surrounded by differences; whether it’s generational, personal preferences, cultural, or whatever else. We won’t always see eye to eye with our fellow members or colleagues. This is just the reality. Working with individuals who may be of another generation is no different. Take a deep breath, and practice patience and kindness. At the end of the day, we are all human and are just trying to do our part. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other ways to cultivate meaningful relationships. How are some of the ways that your association / organization is leveraging the similarities and differences of employees and members of different generations for a more productive and profitable workforce?

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6 Proven Ways to Increase Attendee Mobile Event App Adoption

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 5, 2019

xr-mobile-event-apps

Content Provided by Pathable 

Though it seems like every attendee has a mobile device or tablet in their hand, we hear from many event managers that their mobile event app adoption remains low, with average attendee usage ranging from 48.5%-57%. In this post, we'll share some causes of why your mobile event app adoption could be low and our favorite, proven 6 useful tips you can start using today about how to get more attendees to download and use your mobile event app.

What are causes of low mobile event app adoption?

Your participants do want to use the tool you've invested in. Typically low adoption and engagement stems from a lack of education, a lack of need, or a combination of both. Attendees are nervous to admit they don't know what they're doing, so they just don't say anything. Good news is there are ways to combat this.

Launch your conference app at least four to six weeks before your event.

Launching an event app, especially for the first time, three days before your attendees set foot onsite is a recipe for failure. Start talking it about the fact that you have an event app early and often. Plan to launch your event app at least four to six weeks prior to your event. Don't have that much time before your event? Launch it as quickly as you can by partnering with a company that will help you with all the details.

Promote your mobile event app almost as much as you promote your conference.

Attendees can't adopt and engage with something that they don't know exists. Promote your mobile event app the same way you attracted registrants. In your welcome registration email, add a note in saying how an attendee sign in or engage with a discussion. Put a quick start guide on your conference website sharing how to get started and ways to engage on your conference website. Mention it as a drop in your know before you go emails. Get your sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, and influencers involved.

Tell the attendees why the mobile event app is important to them.

Think WIIFM, or what's it in it for me. Your attendees are busy people. Will using the conference app make their event experience better, easier, more fun, insert your own descriptor here? Do they need to use it (i.e. you've finally done away with that printed program guide) or is there a reward in it for them?

In clear, concise language, reinforce to your attendees every time you mention the event app why the app is important. Have your influencers, speakers, sponsors, and support you in that message. 

Make mobile event app adoption practical.

An attendee needs to plan her/his personal agenda. It's always cold in the breakout rooms and an attendee wants you to know. Attendees need to know how to get from the airport to your venue. Sometimes a microphone breaks in the room and the speaker needs help. Unconference groups like to spring up and meet. Your company has big announcements they want to make at the event. There's a room change. An attendee needs to know where to meet the bus to the networking event. Oprah Winfrey (or whoever your conferences thinks is the *big deal* speaker) is announced as your main stage.

All of these things can be communicated to and from attendees through your mobile event app. Focus all these practical things here and tell your attendees that this is where the buck stops. Then, watch as the event app is where they congregate. They want to stay in the know after all and tell you what they need to happen. It's just practical.

Make mobile event app adoption fun.

Fun isn't always the most powerful motivator, but it can be a valuable one. And when you have the effects of something seen as fun + something seen as completely necessary, man, your attendees won't be able to stop talking about it. Which means even more participants will want to jump in on the action.

Tie event app adoption to a game you're playing with a great reward. Tie event app adoption to a free registration. Tie it to a free hotel night. Tie it to a personal shout-out from the main stage. Make an office twister game or pie in the face challenge where for every attendee who adopts the event app, your executive director or CEO moves closer to certain doom or hilarity.

Whatever makes your people your people, use those things that make you fun and bring the event app adoption into the action.

Make mobile event app adoption easy.

Don't make it tough to get started. Have a magic link sent directly to the attendee that lets them jump right in and get started. Write and widely share a quick start guide (or ask your event app account manager for one, we create branded guides customized for your events if you're a Pathable customer). Train your staff and social media to respond to questions. Record videos. Use our videos. Transcribe those videos for easy written instructions if you want a little something extra to go with the quick start guide.

Don't stop making it easy to adopt and engage once you get onsite. Have your registration staff ask attendees if they've connected when an attendee picks up their badge, and make sure they help those who are still having trouble or need to understand WIIFM. Have your emcee show how he or she is connected from the main stage. Encourage your speakers and sponsors to use the live polling and lead retrieval so that everyone has a reason and a simple way to get started.

Always encourage. Always ask. Most of the time attendees won't tell you if they're having trouble.

And don't forget, the mobile event app doesn’t need to be something only used at the event itself. By integrating the conference app into an attendee's experience as they plan their agenda and check out places to visit in the area before they arrive, helping them see the value of using it onsite, and staying connected to their people long after the event, we promise you should see your adoption numbers increase.

Whether you use our mobile event app or not (though we hope you'll give us a looksee), we hope this guide helps you raise your event app adoption. You've got a lot on your plate. Pathable would love to help.

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The (Re) Accreditation Process Made Me a Believer

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 20, 2019
By JJ Colburn, CAE, President & Partner, Strategic Association Management 

A little more than two years ago, I made the move from serving as a stand-alone association executive to the AMC owner world. Like many who make this transition, I spent the first 18 months just trying to keep my head above water/drinking from the firehose/dodging flaming arrows…insert your favorite appropriate analogy here. But for most reading this, I imagine you understand the challenges inherent in the AMC pace and the juggling skills we must acquire. 

I knew from the beginning that our firm was “accredited” – in fact, this was part of the preliminary fact-finding discussion I had with my then would-be business partner. Early on, she explained often to me and others that our firm had set processes to guide staff in multiple areas of our services as association managers, as well as various aspects of the business side of things. She explained the differences in accreditation as “process-based” versus an individual credential, like the CAE, as more “knowledge-based.” She talked about the great value of being an accredited firm – both internally and externally. 

On paper, all of this made sense…. AND then I jumped head first into the company. Soon, the day-to-day challenges of running a growing AMC hit like a ton of bricks - transitions, onboarding, complicated team structures, scopes of service, contracts – so much to learn and do! So, I seemingly pushed “accreditation” to the side and focused on the work. Except, I didn’t. In actuality, day after day was spent learning the process that had been set up around these things through accreditation. In many cases, I was able to add my own perspective and make improvements based on my experience in leading associations. In all, I was living and learning and working our team through our processes each day. But even in this effort, I still didn’t really make the connection between being “accredited” and doing the work. In my mind, despite being told otherwise, “accreditation” was something to attain and hold for outward purposes. It wasn’t until my firm began the re-accreditation process that I had my a-ha moment. And now, I’m a believer. 

While the ultimate product you get to create and the designation is great, there are many additional benefits for a company. Here are three critical take-aways I experienced in the process. 

1. People Support What They Help to Create

As a young student council leader, this mantra was woven throughout early training and experiences and shaped my leadership philosophy more than any other. So, imagine my delight when I saw this really come to life for our staff when going through the reaccreditation process. Our firm has experienced rapid growth over the last few years and our team has grown from eight to 19 in that time. Many on our team have less than one year with the company. Some have significant association experience, but little with the AMC model. Some are learning both concurrently. As we embarked on reaccreditation preparation, we made sure that every person on our staff contributed to the review and rewrite, if needed, of at least one service area. In most cases, each team worked on multiple areas and in many cases, some took on areas outside of their sphere of expertise. If a finance assistant wanted to sit in on the meetings team process, we welcomed that initiative and encouraged the curiosity. As a result, all of our staff contributed and is much more bought in to what they created than by simply reading or being told information during onboarding. And even better, each is now empowered to offer ideas, resources and insights to continually improve what we do and how we do it. The reaccreditation process then, regardless of firm size, has the potential to re-energize and empower your staff, especially if you let them have a “hand in creating.” 

2. Home Base for Your Team

One of the more prevalent topics when discussing struggles with AMC owners and staff seems to be managing competing priorities. In this multi-client, multi-team model, it’s only natural that this would be a challenge. It’s hard work to keep all the trains moving on schedule and without incident and often one great success with a client or team member can be followed by a seeming set-back with another. Without developed and expressed processes, staff may be re-creating the wheel over and over again in their silos. This negates two of the many benefits of the AMC model- efficiencies and shared expertise. Additionally, providing support to multiple associations with different missions, structures, and personalities can be exciting, but at times it can be disorienting to say the least. Going through the accreditation process and the end result of documenting what you do and how you do it actually provides a home base for your team. It’s the place they can turn to guide their work and lean into each other and the efficiencies created in the model. They become more grounded and self-assured in their work and know that there’s a place to turn to reference what is expected and what works. Most importantly, going through accreditation and establishing your processes ensures your team that there is a thoughtful and deliberate purpose to their work that has been developed, tested and adapted. 

3. Stop to Smell the Strategic Roses

Everything moves so fast. This is not just a statement on AMCs, but life in general. Our “to-do” lists are never-ending – whether rote or extraordinary, mundane or engaging – there just never seems to be enough time to reflect and plan. This is especially true at work, as the urgent often supplants the important. Our team going through the reaccreditation process forced all involved to stop, focus, research, reflect and then strategically consider just about everything as it relates to association management and running a business. In fact, through this process I found myself wishing that I would have done similar work in previous stand-alone association roles. It was fun to watch our team ask questions, share information and have their own “a-ha” moments around association management best practices and the ways we serve members. For some, the knowledge gained from the CAE came to life; for others, their own experiences played out and still for others, their instincts kicked in. But for all, the experience forced us to stop and build time into our days to strategically dive into our industry and our craft in ways we might not have without accreditation. The result of doing this on such a broad scale, actually helped to build the muscle for our team to slow down and be more deliberate in their day, as opposed to simply powering through a checklist. In the end, the success experienced by slowing down to smell the strategic roses keeps our employees more engaged, improves our firm’s services and allow us to move our client organizations’ missions forward more effectively. 

So, if you are new to the AMC world (or not) and are considering accreditation OR if you are already with an accredited firm but find yourself going through the motions and the accreditation feels like “extra” work, my hope is that this will serve as a motivation or reminder of the value of the process.

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Mobile Training Programs: Optimizing Educational Content for Mobile Learning

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 13, 2019

By  of Omnipress

Why Consider Mobile Training and Learning Programs?

One of the top trends in training and education is the development of mobile training and learning programs to make learning more accessible. Mobile content is not only convenient for the learner, but it can also increase retention and productivity by delivering critical knowledge at the exact moment it’s needed. Also known as “just-in-time training,” organizations are recognizing the benefits of pairing in-depth learning with opportunities for real-time reinforcement and practical application. For this to truly be effective, however, content needs to be optimized so that it can be searched and delivered quickly on a mobile device.

The practical applications for just-in-time learning are considerable. For example, think of the technician who is on-site to install or repair a specialized piece of new equipment. Although they were formally trained on the process months ago, the ability to access reinforcement material will help increase accuracy and productivity.  Simply by scanning a QR code on the equipment, or clicking a link to a searchable resource library, that technician can pull up the exact documentation they need to complete the task quickly and accurately.  Within the office environment, just-in-time training resources empower employees to make decisions and handle difficult situations with greater confidence.

In a perfect world, this just-in-time content would be developed specifically for mobile training. Short instructional videos or easy-to-follow visual documents tend to be the most user-friendly in these situations. But developing all new content may not be practical for many organizations due to limited financial and personnel resources.  However, it is possible to use the content you already have for a mobile learning program if you take a few simple steps to ensure it can be delivered to the user quickly.

  1. Provide a centralized “home” for your mobile content

Members and employees need to be able to find relevant content easily. Provide cloud-based access to a centralized library where this content is stored, whether that’s within an existing LMS or an online resource library.  Whatever tool or system you choose, make sure the search functionality is powerful and dynamic enough to provide robust search results for the user.

  1. Modify document layout, if possible

While it may not be possible to completely re-create shorter, more visual content, look for opportunities to modify the layout of existing, multi-column documents to a single-column format where possible to reduce or eliminate the need for left-to-right scrolling. While vertical scrolling is common on mobile devices, horizontal scrolling is extremely disruptive to the user, increasing the time it takes to read a document while reducing overall comprehension.

  1. Minimize the file size

Mobile devices, although convenient, are limited when it comes to processing power. The last thing a user needs in a time-critical situation is to attempt to access a PDF file that takes minutes to open or download. If you are developing new content for mobile training and learning, create it with the intention to minimize file size. Limit the number of fonts and use lower resolution photos and graphics. If you are working with an existing document, there are several file optimization tools available in Adobe Acrobat®. The exact steps will depend upon which version of Acrobat you’re running, but some general guidelines include:

  • Use the Reduce File Size command or PDF Optimizer
  • Enable Fast Web View in the File > Preferences dialog box
  • Unembed unnecessary fonts
  • Downsample or compress images
  1. In longer documents, create bookmarks or hyperlinked table of contents

If your educational content takes the form of a longer textbook or training manual, it may be impractical to break it up into separate, shorter documents. But it is possible to make these documents easier to navigate by creating bookmarks in your PDF to create jump destinations that link to other documents or web pages.  If you are housing your educational content in an online resource library, each publication can be broken out into easy-to-navigate, hyperlinked sections and backed with contextual search capabilities so users don’t have to scroll through hundreds of pages to find the answers they need.

Mobile Training Can be Worth the Time it Takes to Optimize Educational Content for Your Learners

Providing quick, easy, and just-in-time access to learning and training materials is going to continue to be a key component of mobile training programs moving forward.  It not only increases retention and success for the learner, it also increases program value by providing practical application of education concepts when they are needed most. Eventually, educational content will need to be designed with this in mind. But if you don’t have the resources nor bandwidth to tackle this today, don’t let that stop you from testing some small pilot programs. It is possible to re-use existing content by taking a few, simple steps to optimize documents for mobile delivery.

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Planning Security at Your Association Event

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 7, 2019
By Amanda B. Langtry, Event Manager, Strauss Event & Association Management, Edmonton, Alberta 

Security at association events has moved to the forefront of association event planning in recent years. Regardless of the size or scope of the event, it is the association’s responsibility to ensure that delegates are safe and secure in the various spaces that the event is taking place. This article takes an initial look at how and when event planners should incorporate security into an association event.

When is Security Required?
Often the need for security will be dictated by the host venue. Most hotels and conference centres will have a minimum level of security staffing required based on number of attendees and whether alcohol is being served. The same can be said for most offsite venues as well, especially if they are government owned or operated. The primary factors to consider when planning if security is required include:
  1. Venue requirements
  2. Number of attendees
  3. Alcohol consumption
  4. Cannabis consumption (this will have a major impact on the meeting and events industry once regulation is more clearly defined)
  5. Hours of events (i.e. social night ending late)
  6. Location of events (i.e. if transporting delegates to and from an offsite venue)
One other factor to consider surrounding security at an association event is the content of that specific event and the climate of the association at that time. If the association is involved in a polarizing project or decision that could result in public or member pushback, security should be considered. There could be specific sessions that could have this effect as well that could result in protests and attract unwanted attention.

An incident occurred at an international conference I was recently involved with. There was a session focused on homelessness and, at the time, a negative article on the association’s members was published in respect to their involvement in tackling the homelessness issue. As a safety procedure, we informed the hotel’s security team of the threat of protesters and engaged undercover security to pose as conference attendees. The threat did not actualize; however, we were prepared had things gone south. 

How to Plan for Security in Another City
I rarely plan association events in my home city, but instead have conferences that move across the country. Planning for security in other cities is no different than planning for other suppliers. 

It is crucial that you rely on the local hosts and other supplier partners to make recommendations. Work with the venue and/or the destination marketing organizations to better understand where security is required and where it is recommended. These partners can also suggest security companies that they have worked with in the past. For more information on how to best utilize DMOs, see my interview with three national partners: Association Event Planning Tips – An In Depth Interview with DMOs

What to Include in a Crisis Plan
For every association event that we manage, regardless of the size, we create a crisis plan. This is a detailed document that outlines key people and procedures in the case of an emergency. 

The following items are important to include in any crisis plan:
  1. Phone numbers for local emergency responders (fire, police, ambulance)
  2. Closest hospital, walk in clinic and pharmacy
  3. Location of all AEDs in the venue
  4. Crisis Management Plan – plan to be used in conjunction with the venue’s existing emergency procedures which outlines an onsite emergency operations centre and an offsite meeting point in case of evacuation
  5. Crisis Communications Team members and contact information – this would be the security personnel, venue staff and event staff that have been tasked with executing the Crisis Management Plan in case of emergency
  6. Emergency chain of command – identify who is the lead in case of emergency and how the emergency should be communicated to all parties involved. The lead should be the security personnel if they have been hired
How to Communicate Security Information to Delegates
There is a fine line to communicating security measures to delegates without inducing panic. The intention is to have delegates feel safe and taken care of without creating an unnecessary sense of panic. Include information on your association event’s mobile app or printed program about the location of emergency exits and other venue related specifics. The information can be communicated using a flashy graphic so that delegates do not miss the information and are more receptive.

The key in any emergency situation or security breach is planning and communication. It is important to have a detailed crisis plan established prior to an event and to have that plan shared with all parties involved as early as possible. Security should be engaged in the appropriate capacity and should be relied upon as a resource when putting any sort of crisis plan together. The hope is that the crisis plan never has to be executed, but having one established is the event manager’s duty of care.

About Amanda B. Langtry
With training in human resource management and international business, Amanda Langtry brings extensive expertise and leadership skills to her role as an Event Manager at Strauss Event & Association Management. She has served on the management team for a variety of major events, including:
  • The Canadian Athletic Therapists Association’s National Conference;
  • The Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada’s Scientific Conference;
  • The Pedorthic Association of Canada’s Annual Symposium and;
  • The Rady JCC Ken Kronson Sports Dinner
Amanda has experience in managing international events, with a recent project that had 25 countries represented. She is a graduate of the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba with a double major in human resource management and international business.

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Additional Resources You Can Offer Your Members (At No Extra Cost to You!)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 30, 2019

By MemberClicks, Callie Walker 

Member resources directly equate to member value. The more resources you can provide, the more valuable a membership with your association or chamber of commerce will be.

That said, what if we told you there was a way to offer your members MORE resources at no extra cost to you?

Well good news...there IS! Read on for a few specific ideas to consider:

Resource #1: An industry dictionary

Just about all industries have terminology unique to that particular industry. For computer programming, there’s HTML, API, glue code, and NodeList. For marketing, there’s SEO, KPI, S.W.O.T. analysis, and PPC.

Though some of the terms in your industry may be obvious to you (particularly if you’ve been in that industry for a while), think about people who are new to the industry - your young professional members and people who have recently taken on a new role at work.

Having a dictionary of industry terms that they can access at any time (or even download) could be incredibly valuable for them. And though it may take you a little time to create, overall, it shouldn’t be too difficult, particularly if you can get volunteers involved!

Resource #2: Templates

Everybody LOVES a good template! Think about it: If you’re trying to do something for the first time, and you have an exact template to follow, how much easier does that task then become? It eliminates at least some of the thinking required to complete that task.

What types of templates are we talking about? Well, there are general templates that could apply to just about all industries and then templates that are very specific to certain industries. See below for a few examples:Generic templates that span most industries:

  • Resume template
  • Cover letter template
  • Professional bio template

Industry-specific templates:

  • For educators: Lesson plan template
  • For marketers/public relations professionals: Press release template
  • For event planners: Budget template

Get creative with what you offer your members. Sometimes, what seems simple to you (a resume template, for example) may be incredibly helpful to others. Seek to add value wherever you can!

Remember, the more value you can provide your members with, the more likely they are to renew. For more tips and best practices to bump up retention rates, check out our free kit below. (You’ll even find a few renewal reminder email templates inside. Hey, like we said, everybody loves a good template!)

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Pennsylvania Legislation Threatens Private Certification, ASAE says

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 22, 2019

By Mary Kate Cunningham of Associations Now

A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature is the latest in a series of state-level measures that threaten certifications offered by associations and other private organizations, according to ASAE and the Professional Certification Coalition.

Echoing concerns it has raised over the past year about similar legislation in other states, ASAE is seeking amended language in a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House that it says poses a threat to private certifications, including those offered by associations.

In its current form, House Bill 811 could interfere with the right of many private credentialing organizations to adopt and enforce their own ethics codes and procedures, ASAE said. It added that, depending on the reading of the legislation, the measure may restrict use of the title “certified” in Pennsylvania to those holding government-issued credentials. This would deny state residents the right to use professional titles they have lawfully earned from private organizations and also raises potential constitutional questions, according to ASAE.

“Given the important role of private certification organizations both in providing assurances to the public and in the commonwealth’s own regulation of licensed professions, we request that you modify the bill to avoid these negative impacts,” ASAE CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE, wrote in a letter [PDF] to Reps. Jim Cox and David Hickernell, the prime sponsors of the legislation.

Last year, ASAE and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence cofounded the Professional Certification Coalition after bills limiting private credentialing emerged in Louisiana, Missouri, and several other states. Now with more than 115 members, PCC has monitored and engaged in advocacy on over 80 similar bills in 30 states.

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