The Special Offer – Over 50% SOLD!

The Engaging Associations Forum registration is open – and as mentioned a few weeks ago, we are running a special offer for those keen to innovate and create change: registration is available to association executives at $185 (LOWER THAN LAST YEAR).  We had set aside 50 passes at this unbelievable rate, and this category is 58% sold out within 2.5 weeks!

We have garnered a reputation of being THE event for innovative association and not-for-profit executives. With a heavy emphasis on peer-to-peer exchange, thought-leadership and dynamic education, this conference aims to build a stronger, more vibrant association sector in Canada. If you want to experience a uniquely engaging conference, this is the place to be.

If you have thought about attending in the past, and have yet to join us, or if you have attended and want to join us again – don’t wait too long.  We will offer passes at this rate for the first 50 executives ONLY, so register today!  Will you join us July 19-21, 2017?

Are you being receptive to new voices?

In our last post we focused on the seven purposes of a meeting.  While none of these purposes specifically stated it, it was understood that participant appeal is a key ingredient of a successful meeting.  The meeting participant needs to “see him/herself in the picture” for the meeting to hit the mark.

Whether a person could relate to the reason for the celebration, wanted to learn the material being presented, or simply wanted to connect with the type of person anticipated to be at the event, the participant must relate

The problem is, these days, the basis of how people relate to events is changing.  Rapidly.  We could argue about the reasons – smartphones, social media, Millennials… But none of that matters, really.  The bottom line is: how people relate is a fast-moving target.  And if people can’t relate they just won’t show up.

Now some of you may argue that isn’t the case for all meetings.  At corporate meetings, for instance, people are told to attend the meeting… they don’t have a choice.  I think differently – and perhaps that’ll be the topic for another column.  Let’s agree on this: maybe participants will show up but they won’t be that engaged unless they can relate.

So how do you make sure people see themselves in your event’s picture?  One strategy I have come to adopt is listening to the “new voices.”

The new voices aren’t necessarily young or novice in the field.  They often are considered “the outliers.” They are not that loud, just perhaps asking for something that isn’t being offered.  Maybe they are unhappy or perhaps they are just looking for something better suited to their needs.

We’ve been seeing a chorus of voices pipe up in association and corporate meetings, in diverse fields from healthcare to IT.  According to one author, one group that is often not heard at industry events is women.  And it is the reason why women’s conferences is a fast-growing meeting segment. (And with the latest marches going on around the world of late, this trend just may be gaining momentum!)

If potential participants don’t see themselves in the event picture you are creating they just won’t come to your meeting.

So where are they going?  In some cases, they are banding together and organizing their own meeting (hint hint independent planners… a new source of business?).  Or they are finding new events, sometimes organized by similar associations, or even the private sector, but targeting a niche of your audience.

This is completely congruent with a trend we have been seeing for a while; there are more small, specialized events, often winning at the expense of the ho-hum annual conference that tries to be all things to all people…

So who are the new voices in your organization?  Is it time you start listening?

2017 Engaging Associations Forum Registration Now Open!

We are thrilled to announce that registration for the Engaging Associations Forum is NOW open!

And, as you may have expected, Doreen and I kick off with a special offer: Until February 15th, we are offering attendance at the Engaging Associations Forum for a rate of $185*!  Yes, you read that right – EVEN LOWER than last year!  Click here to register now.

2016 sold out; and we fully anticipate 2017 to be no different, so you may think we are crazy, but if you have been loyal to attending the Engaging Associations Forum in the past, or perhaps you want to check it out for the first time, we want to celebrate four years of creating change!

Register while you can! *This special rate is non-refundable.

The 7 Purposes of a Meeting

As an association leader, what are your thoughts about the transformational role that meetings can have in advancing your organizational objectives?

I say can have because meetings are often seen as anything but transformational.  For too many people “meetings” is synonymous with boring, time-consuming, soul-sucking gatherings.  For the media, meetings and conferences too often are how politicians and bureaucrats waste our tax dollars.  And for too many association executives, Board Meetings are something to be endured rather than embraced.

Organizations like Meeting Professionals International have been fighting this perception for years with campaigns like Meetings Mean Business and When We Meet We Change the World.

But in this crazy-busy, hyper-connected and fragmented world, it’s easy to lose sight of meetings’ true purpose.   It is up to each and every one of us to ensure that the meetings we organize are purposeful.

Because, at the end of the day, does the theme of the conference, the taste of the food or the quality the AV presentation even matter if the people at the meeting didn’t connect – to the material, to the presenter, to the organization, to each other?

And speaking of purpose, when was the last time you thought about your next meeting’s purpose?  A few years ago, Marriott Hotels conducted research that identified seven distinct purposes to a meeting.  Some meetings of course may have multiple purposes:

  • TO CELEBRATE: This is when the event is to commemorate a milestone or accomplishment.
  • TO DECIDE: With this objective, the event should focus on meaningful dialogue so an outcome or direction can be initiated.
  • TO EDUCATE: When the meeting objective is to impart knowledge, where participants learn new things or acquire new skills.
  • TO IDEATE: I prefer to call this objective to innovate or generate new ideas, develop new ways of thinking or doing things.
  • TO NETWORK: This is when the objective is to meet and get to know people, often with a mind towards a transaction or exchange.
  • TO PRODUCE: When the objective calls for people to collaborate to towards a specific goal or develop a specific output.
  • TO PROMOTE: Related to or following the networking objective, this objective is to introduce a new offering (product, service) or promote a new idea or message.

I have been working with and dissecting the above purposes ever since I read about the research, and been unable to come up with any other true, positive purpose that focuses on the human interaction (hint: making money isn’t a purpose).  Can you?

In our upcoming series on #PurposefulMeetings, it is my intent to explore different ways we can all plan and produce business events that fulfill their purpose in an engaging and meaningful way.  If you have any questions, suggestions or challenges, drop me a line!  I love to discuss, exchange and debate… So reach out at