10 Steps to a SuccessfulPrograms Committee By Marcia Mehlhaff www.marciafied.com
1. Survey your membersAnnual surveys for the Chapter are a part of the IAAP Chapterof Excellence criteria. By preparing a survey that includesgeneral chapter questions, as well as specific programquestions, you can complete this requirement and learn a littleabout what your fellow chapter members are looking for ineducation. (Coordinate this activity with your Board.) But don’trely solely on the survey; It’s hard people to think of educationthey want when they’re completing a survey. You’re more likelyhear suggestions as people talk before or after a meeting.
2. Determine your goals and speaker criteriaThere are three primary goals for the program committee:1) Find really good speakers on relevant topics of interest to your members that2) earn recertification points and3) stay within the committee’s approved budget.
a. Budgets:The budget is a huge concern. Does your chapter have fundsto pay for any speakers? An average fee per speaker? Moneyto cover speaker thank you gifts? Travel expenses?Draw up a draft budget to present to the Board before youstart contacting speakers - unless you know that they are free.(A sample budget is provided at my website.) Your budgetshould be presented to the Board as early as possible. It needsto be approved by the Board before it becomes part of thechapter budget, which must be approved by the membership.
b. Boards:Some Boards like to be intimately involved in committeeactivities; others appreciate hearing when things have beencompleted. If you work with the Board to draft, send and reviewyour survey, you will have an opportunity to learn how involvedthey want to be and to unobtrusively solicit speaker resources.(As you review the topics members are interested in, you mightsay that you don’t know where to look for a speaker on a certaintopic. If your Board members know of someone from their workor an acquaintance with knowledge of that topic, they usuallysay so and get you contact information or do the contacting foryou. This is a great speaker resource.)
c. Topics and speakers:Choose topics from CAP-OM exam criteria; OfficeTeampresentations; Members’ areas of expertise, from other localchapters’ members, or division leadership or members; Co-workers of members; Vendors, especially Avery, HR firms,accounting firms, computer companies; Speakers bureaus,Toastmasters, other associations, and entrepreneursChapter’s in larger cities have more options than those insmaller cities; however, there are still many options, you justneed to think outside of the box.
3. Verify your scheduleEach year your chapter negotiates where and when it will holdits meetings for the coming year. Often this is done over thesummer. If you can get firm dates before booking speakers, thatis best; however, book speakers using tentative dates, if youmust, and know that you might have to reschedule later.
4. Prepare yourself for contacting potential speakersThis includes having a good description of the topic and whatyou want speakers to cover during their presentation; a checklist to remind you to request full contact information, a signedcontract, a billing invoice when paid, a bio with the option of apicture, and a topic description and outline; and, lastly, haveready a description of the audience to offer speakers.
5. Create your formsYou will need contracts, recertification applications, speakerevaluations, your budget request, monthly Board report andyour annual summary report. The recertification applicationneeds to be downloaded from the IAAP website. For everythingelse you can use last year’s documents as templates or visit mywebsite at www.marciafied.com and go to the PlanningPrograms page.
6. Book your speakersKnow all of your available dates and determine if you wouldlike a specific topic or speaker on a specific month. It’s good tohave great speakers, especially in September and November,when members and guests are testing out the benefits ofparticipating in the chapter.When leaving a message for your potential speakers, makesure to state that others will be called and dates will be filling.Generally, the first speaker to say yes gets their pick of dates.
7. Create your chapter brochureThis is the artistic part of the process, where you can usegraphics and color themes to market your chapter and highlightyour programs. A tri-fold is recommended with general chapterinformation like Board info, meeting place, hours, etc., as wellas, the specific dates, topics, presenters and short descriptionof the program.
8. Send, receive and track your paperworkCreate a format for recording & sharing your speaker info as aback up for the chapter and for a long term record. A sampletemplate is available atwww.marciamehlhaff.com/planning_programs.html titled,template_program_tracking.xls.Include name of speaker, business name, contact info, statusof IAAP required documents and when shared, documents formeetings.
10. Market your chapter and your programsMarketing should take advantage of as many outlets aspossible. Fliers for members to post at work or an e-mail forthem to forward to co-workers and friends. The newsletterarticle with links posted to the chapter website. Asking membersto Tweet or post to FaceBook a short description with date andtime and a link to the chapter website. Post to local news outletsonline or wherever they will run community events for free. Try amobile meeting app like Bizzabo.com.Get creative and get the word out. Encourage members toTweet during a meeting and follow up your events with postsabout how good the event was, whenever and whereverpossible. Find ways to share the positive feedback from yourmeetings that you receive via evaluation forms.
Thank you for reviewing thisinformation and I wish you a successful year! Marcia Mehlhaff www.marciafied.com