This year, as our team prepared for ASAE’s Annual Meeting, we wanted to do something different. We wanted to disrupt the traditional booth interaction of us talking about what we do, and instead create an opportunity to learn from everyone else.
To do that, we set up a thought wall where attendees posted their answers to some questions that were top of mind coming out of the pandemic. For every post, we made a donation to the ASAE Research Foundation.
It feels like everywhere we look today we’re reading and hearing so much about the strategies, tactics and best practices for meetings that we can miss the voices of the people behind them. From planners to producers and everyone in between, there are so many people who make every single meeting come together.
That’s why we’re kicking off our “Project Your Voice” series where we talk to professionals about their experience in the industry, what advice they have for others, and their hope for the future. Everyone brings a unique background and life experience to their role, and we wanted to share some of those stories and recognize the incredible individuals that have kept moving, shining their light, and bringing people together – even when the world felt pretty dark.
Of course, we can’t kick off the series without highlighting the voices of those who stopped by our booth in Nashville. Here’s a snapshot of the questions we asked, and answers attendees shared.
How do you create value for your members and attendees?
- Content and networking
- Produce memorable moments
- Help them feel understood / give them a chance to share & listen
- Create niche community groups for networking
- By being indispensable to them
What is your biggest concern or challenge right now?
- Sustainable income
- Bridging where we are with where we want to go
- Creating and justifying events that combat feelings of isolation and dysconnectivity
- Member engagement and burnout
- Balancing in-person and virtual attendees
- Broadening input from diverse membership
How are you putting DEI into action?
- Hiring women in leadership
- Ensuring Board has diverse representation
- Grants and scholarships
- A listening tour with a DEI consultant
- Starting a committee to address inclusion
What new strategies, tactics and technologies have you implemented for your events?
- Digital advertising opportunities
- Treasure hunts
- Interactive virtual expo hall
- Building pre-conference community
- All-hybrid sessions – no member left behind
- VR escape room on show floor to let doctors explore this new learning tech
What’s your biggest lesson learned from producing in-person events in the last year?
- Greater awareness of attendee health concerns
- Be prepared to pivot continually
- Expectations are higher than ever
- The importance of networking
- Be patient and embrace small wins
Asked about the future, Paula Eichenbrenner, executive director of AMCP Foundation and ASAE attendee, wants us all to find a way to give back. “Associations are uniquely positioned to lead social change, and that needs to be executed at all levels of the organization. For example, giving meeting attendees the opportunity to donate to a cause and/or participate in a community service event will not only cultivate a significant and meaningful impact, but inspire attendees and members in a way that keeps them coming back. There’s a business case for social impact, and it’s up to all of us to prove it.” (Stay tuned for Paula’s full Q & A coming to the blog.)
We had such a great time talking to and learning from ASAE attendees and can’t wait to bring more insights from the individuals that keep our industry not just running, but thriving. As we all watch attendees fill opening ceremonies, exhibit halls and breakout sessions again, it’s clear that the work we do – bringing people together – is not only fun, but critical.
If you or anyone from your organization would like to be a contributor to the “Project Your Voice” series, please let us know at email@example.com.
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