For those who don’t know me, I’ll draw your attention to my picture. At least this way you’ll be able to put a face to my voice. Additionally, I’ve included this same slide at the end of this presentation, so you can jot down at that time any contact information that interests you.
One last piece of housekeeping before we officially get underway. I’ve included here a sample tweet for those of you who may be active on Twitter for the next hour as I deliver this presentation. Feel free to use this as a sample – or post whatever it is you’re feeling during the session. As I won’t be able to monitor this thread, be sure to include the #EventGardehashtag in your tweet and I’ll be sure to follow up after the session. It will also be easier for all of you to keep up with the discussion online, as well.
Without further ado, let me set the scene: Your toes are numb from standing for 72 straight hours. You’ve not slept in days. The most food you’ve eaten is a carrot stick from last night’s cocktail hour and half an egg roll. The annual conference finally draws to a close and the last thing on your mind is the resource and content treasures unearthed throughout the event.
Nevertheless, these are the tangible deliverables that can and should be used to optimize existing engagement activities. In addition to driving the development of timely follow-on educational programs, and aiding learners in linking theory (presented at the conference) with practice (challenges encountered on the job), curated content can also support organizational recruitment and retention efforts (by delivering quality products and services that members value).
Undoubtedly, there is a benefit to enriching the onsite conference experience with the addition of exclusive interviews, video, photos, news about the speakers, vendors and entertainment, and live Twitter feeds and Facebook posts. Certainly, I’ve blogged about this topic myself.However, what I’m specifically talking about here is curating conference content that already exists.
Whether during breakout sessions, informal hallway conversations, networking breaks, meals, receptions, keynote presentations, special events or on The Back of the Napkin (à la Dan Roam), I think we can all agree that learning takes place both inside and outside of the traditional classroom environment – be that at a hotel, convention center or similar venue.
The trick is to capture that content, then curate, repackage, repurpose and leverage it. The solution here isn’t about planning more programs, but rather maximizing the opportunities inherent in the signature events you’re already planning. It’s quality, rather than quantity, and creating professional development experiences that extend beyond the confines of the program itself.
Everyone who attended your program already engaged with your staff, your organization, your content and the other participants. Essentially, these attendees walk away with a tangible experience they can draw upon when they encounter the future marketing of products, programs or services that precipitate from this event. Assuming they had a good experience, they’re likely to become loyal members of your fan club and will be even more likely to engage again with you in the future. It’s like you have a vetted audience that’s eager to buy whatever it is you’re selling.
Following are five simple, but effective strategies for curating conference content. Examples and case studies are provided to help demonstrate how other organizations have executed these strategies. Each may be easily adapted and adopted within your own organizations, as well.
In the spirit of full disclosure, my nearly three year old niece, Bella, inspired the Sesame Street counting theme you’ll see throughout this presentation.Here you see that the first strategy for curating conference content is to “schedule follow-on education.”
In other words, popular education sessions could be repeated in person or online, or content previously presented in a breakout session could be teased out into a half-day or full-day program.
At the Michigan Meetings Expo held on May 23, a block of time was dedicated throughout the morning for a series of four idea swaps. Each idea swap lasted 20 minutes. Participants were encouraged to review the list of 19 different idea swap topics and then select one topic of interest during each time slot, ultimately allowing each attendee to customize a professional development experience that met their unique learning needs. Some of those topics are listed above. Following the expo, the most popular topics were identified and repackaged into deep dive sessions. Notes taken in the mobile app for this meeting served as the foundation for the curriculum development. The schedule for each of these training days is 12 to 2:30 p.m. Lunch is served from 12 to 1 p.m., followed by the learning session from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sessions are open to both association and supplier professionals – and are held at properties that support the organization. Facility tours are then available for interested individuals at 2:30 p.m.Not only do these education sessions provide additional opportunities for engagement, but they are an additional revenue stream, as well.
The second strategy I’d like to share with you this afternoon related to curating conference content is to “link theory with practice.”
A curriculum eliciting a call to action requires appropriate follow through and support. Association resources should be deployed to ensure all barriers to implementation are removed and successes celebrated.
Just last week I had the pleasure of presenting a closing keynote session at the annual convention for the Indiana Society of Association Executives. At the end of my keynote, I was asked by the organization to help facilitate a brief learning exercise. Participants used the postcards above to record key takeaways they wanted to write down and consider at a future time or planned to implement following the event. They then self-addressed the postcard and turned it in to an association staff member. These postcards are set to be mailed back to attendees in 30-45 days following the event to either prompt these individuals to action or to demonstrate learning outcomes. In either case, it effectively extends the conference experience beyond the onsite conference and begins to blur the lines between classroom learning and workplace application.
My third strategy to curating conference content is to “keep the conversation flowing.”
Online communities could be formed and moderated to continue conference discussions long after the closing keynote session has ended, encouraging opportunities for further engagement and collaboration.
Quite frequently, this happens after the ASAE annual meeting. For example, my good friend and mentor Cynthia D’Amour will be joining me in Dallas next month. Together, we will be presenting a session on Tuesday morning titled, “Reimagine Signature Events to Empower Self-directed Learners.” For60 days following the program, we will prompt and moderate discussion related to self-directed learning in an ASAE collaborate group. Not only will we post discussion questions each week, but we’ll be prepared to respond to questions and comments as they’re posted by group participants.
Our fourth strategy this afternoon related to curating conference content is to “develop a library of resources.”
Speakers, vendors, attendees and staff could be invited to transform important topics presented at the conference into valuable resources such as blog posts, newsletter articles, white papers or YouTube videos.
The Michigan Society of Association Executives has an Emerging Professionals Committee that develops educational opportunities for young Michigan association professionals and those new to the association industry. For two years now, the committee has developed a series of brown bag lunches - with a commitment to securing knowledgeable facilitators and to developing interactive material that is guaranteed to stimulate discussion. Topics are timely and uniquely tailored to meet the needs of this target audience.The lunches begin at noon and end at 1 p.m., and include time for Q&A. Following each session, detailed outlines are created – complete with notes,tips and additional resourcesfrom the facilitator – and are posted in the members-only section of the organization’s online community. We find this to be a valuable resource both for participants who attended the session and for those who were unable to make it. Clearly, those who actually attend the session benefit both from the networking component and the ability to ask questions, but also don’t have to be too diligent about taking notes while they eat their lunch.
Finally, our fifth strategy for effectively curating conference content is to “aggregate social media content.”
Pictures from the event, as well as Facebook updates and Twitter posts from both the official conference feeds and the attendees at-large, could be compiled into a meaningful story and shared.
For example, Storify helps its users tell stories by curating social media. Every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET, an intrepid band of association leaders convenes on Twitter (using the hashtag #assnchat) to engage in conversations about the future of our community. The questions and answers are then neatly compiled and organized by the host into a valuable resource that is easy to digest, search, review and reference for future use.
[Review the details of the slide above.]I think this goes without saying, but more engagement and better engagement mean members perceive your organization to be valuable – not to mention the effect it can have on your bottom line. Years of research reveals that association members are interested in doing business with someone they are familiar with and have learned to trust; will try to establish a long-term relationship with an organization after a positive experience; are loyal to organizations with whom a relationship has been established; and often base their membership decisions on past experiences, customer service and quality. By curating conference content, you create additional touch points with members to ensure their continued engagement in your organization.
Thank you for your time this afternoon – and I hope you’ve found this program to be beneficial. Please be sure to phone or email me with questions or potential projects you’d like to discuss. Additionally, if you email me, I’ll be happy to share with you a copy of this PowerPoint presentation. Also, to stay up-to-date on the latest news, updates and best practices in the meetings and education arenas, please take a moment to “like” my consulting firm on Facebook. As a fan, you’ll also be the first to know about our newest photos, videos, blog posts, client projects, speaking engagements and firm updates.
Finally, what would this webinar be without a contest?The first person to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to the following question will receive a complimentary 30-minute consultation. The question is: “What is the name of my nearly three year old niece who inspired the Sesame Street counting theme I used during this presentation?”
Curating Conference Content to Promote Member Engagement
Curating Conference Content toPromote Member Engagement Thursday, July 26, 2012 2 – 3 p.m. ET
Housekeeping• Participants attending live will have a chance at the end of this webinar to win a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Aaron.• All participants will receive 1 CAE credit hour for full participation in this live webinar.
Final Thoughts• Conference content already exists.• Repackage, repurpose and leverage it. – Engage volunteer leaders as curators. – Create quality products/services members value.• Experiences loyalty engagement.• Technology and social media can enhance deliverables.
Top 5 Strategies1. Schedule follow-on education.2. Link theory with practice.3. Keep the conversation flowing.4. Develop a library of resources.5. Aggregate social media content.