Pre-Conference Reading List: Articles to Prep for ASAE Annual

 

For most people, summer means warm days, sunshine, beach time, fireflies and lemonade. For us, it means it’s time to get ready for our favorite event of the year—the ASAE Annual Meeting!

We’ve already started browsing through the conference schedule to plan which sessions we’re going to attend. There are a few that caught our attention because they’re covering topics that we’ve had our eye on this year as well, including:

  • A Method to the Madness: How to Strategically Use and Reuse Your Content
  • The Annual Conference as a Year Long Engagement Tool
  • Don’t Just Learn It, Do It! Developing Microlessons for Practice & Application
  • Reimagining an Innovative and Collaborative Conference
  • Four Steps for Growing, Engaging and Retaining Your Membership

In fact, we’ve written blog articles that address some of these same themes.  So, we went back and re-visited these articles to get the “thinking gears” moving in preparation for the conference. And then it occurred to us—maybe others will find these articles helpful as well.

We’ve prepared a list of suggested reading to kick-start your thought process and help prepare you for an engaging discussion at ASAE Annual.

Six Articles That Will Help Get You Ready for ASAE Annual

 

Are You Wasting Your Most Valuable Resource?

Associations are sitting on a goldmine. Unlike most for-profit organizations, associations are in the business of content. You source it for your conferences. You develop it for your educational programs. And you produce it for your publications. You have no shortage of knowledge and ideas to share. But what many don’t have is a well-defined sharing program, both internally and externally, which prevents associations from using that content to its full potential. Here are some ideas on how to overcome internal obstacles and develop a sustainable content marketing process. READ MORE

Association Growth: Conference and Membership Teams Must Collaborate Better

The 2019 State of the Conference Industry Report results demonstrate that conference attendance trends and membership growth trends are closely linked, making it essential that conference and membership teams work together to leverage this relationship, providing increased member benefit and attracting new audiences. Here are four ideas to achieve association growth. READ MORE

The Future of Continuing Education Can be Found in K-12 Classrooms

The way in which we need to deliver education is fundamentally changing because our understanding of how people learn best is changing. The origins of this shift can be traced all the way back to the K-12 classroom.  The school-aged learners of today will soon be the adult learners of tomorrow, and their current classroom experiences are going to affect professional development programs in the future. This article explores five fundamental shifts in classroom learning and the potential impact on continuing education professionals. READ MORE

Five Ways to Continue the Learning After Your Conference

The learning we experience at conferences does not have to end when the conference does. And that wonderful content that you spent months collecting and vetting doesn’t have to fade into oblivion. You can use it to keep the ideas flowing, keep your attendees energized and, better yet, increase the ROI of your conference for months, if not years, after the fact. Here are five ideas to leverage content after an event. READ MORE

Apply Micro-Learning Concepts to Your Printed Course Materials

The discussion of mico-learning is typically centered around online and mobile-based training programs. Recently, however, some organizations have started looking at ways to redesign existing print content to implement and test micro-learning without the need for additional resources. Here are some ideas to consider for your micro-learning programs. READ MORE

Get Your Training Courses Ready for Generation Z

Today, many associations are thinking about how to remain relevant at a time when access to free knowledge is just a click away. But there’s good news: Gen Z will find tremendous value in the opportunities that associations provide…if you can adapt to their needs and meet them on their terms. Here are some things to consider in your next conference strategy session. READ MORE

We’re very interested to gain additional industry perspectives and learn more about where these themes are headed in the coming year.  And, we look forward to joining our association friends and industry partners for several days of great insights and even better conversations.

Be sure to stop by and visit us at Booth #1423. See you soon!

Tips for Designing an Inspiring Conference Program Booklet

 

Your annual conference is so much more than an agenda of sessions, speakers and networking events. It’s an exciting, energized community of attendees, where innovative ideas are shared and new relationships are forged.  You go to great lengths to convey this excitement and energy on your event website and in your marketing and promotional materials. But the program booklet—as one of the last items checked off a meeting planner’s to-do list—often takes on a more practical and utilitarian format. This may be a huge missed opportunity.

One of the first interactions attendees have with your conference is with the program guide. This booklet, while providing all necessary logistical information for attendees, also sets the tone of the meeting, and helps the attendee prepare for what’s to come. How are you hoping to engage attendees at your event? Do you want them to actively participate in sessions and interact with the content? Collaborate with speakers and each other? Do you want to challenge them or pull them outside their comfort zone? The design of your program book can help promote and facilitate these objectives.

What Inspired Program Book Design Looks Like: An Example from ASAE

asae xdp program book 360 live media
Photo credit: 360 Live Media, www.360livemedia.com

We’d like to give a shout-out to ASAE’s newest conference, Xperience Design Project (xdp). This event for meeting planners focuses on helping attendees re-think their own meetings and find new and innovative ways to deliver educational content.  The branding and promotion of the event certainly communicated this. But as an attendee, I didn’t realize just how different this event was until I started paging through the program book when I first arrived.  I could tell immediately this was meant to be a fun, energizing meeting. This extraordinary program book, designed by 360 Live Media, included design elements such as non-linear text, bold typography, graphic cues and on-page interactive elements, the xdp program book made it clear I was being expected to actively participate in my own learning. I was excited to be there even before the first speaker took the podium.

The takeaway: it’s not just about delivering relevant information to attendees, it’s HOW that information is delivered. Challenge yourself to think about how you can present the schedule, session descriptions, speaker bios, etc., in a way that really makes a lasting impact on attendees and sets the tone for the event, getting them fired up before the first session.

Six Design Pro Tips for Your Conference Booklet

First and foremost, your program book needs to be easy for any attendee to navigate. Think of it as user experience (UX) for printed materials. Beyond that, here are six aspects of your booklet design to consider.

Font and Typography

There is a documented psychology behind font choices and how they trigger ideas and emotions. Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, convey a feeling of class and heritage, making them appear formal. Sans serif fonts, like Arial and Helvetica, convey a straight-forward, simple and no-nonsense attitude. Modern fonts, like Futura, convey feelings of intelligence and chic style and have been reported to attract the attention of Millennials. The font choice you make throughout your program book should support the overall “vibe” of your meeting.

Also, don’t be afraid to go big and bold with font size in unexpected places. This is a great way to provide an assertion of key ideas and themes that attendees will expect to hear, gaining their buy-in before the meeting starts.

Color and positioning

Within your brand palette, do you have any secondary colors that provide an interesting contrast?  Use these colors to highlight key aspects of your meeting content, make a statement or direct attendees.

Iconography

Icons have emerged as a popular element of design, particularly on the web, because they provide quick and sometimes complex visual cues quickly while minimizing the amount of text needed. Incorporating iconography into your conference program booklet provides consistent visual cues throughout the book that help direct the reader.   Depending upon the icon style being used, you can interject a bit of whimsy to make a more formal-looking program book feel approachable and conversational.

Interactivity

One of the top trends in meeting design for the past several years has been providing a more interactive and collaborative approach to the learning process. Conferences are no longer a place for attendees to simply consume learning; they are active participants. Your conference booklet can help facilitate and promote this approach as well. Sure, providing dedicated pages to take notes is always handy, but can you take it a step further? Provide thought-provoking questions and space to answer them. Include short workbook-like activities in your program book. Or, give them a specific place to take notes about people they’ve met.

Maximize Branding Opportunities Wherever You Can

cesse conference program bookletOne of our own fan-favorite program books features a simple, but impactful change from the previous year—we happen to know this because they are also one of our customers. The Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives (CESSE) incorporated tabs in their book to make it easy for users to navigate. Taking it a step further, they used what is often blank space to extend their event branding. The flood of bold color and graphics on what is traditionally a blank page helped to reinforce the perception that this is a high-quality, professional conference.

Find Inspiration Outside of Your Industry

Some of the most cutting-edge event designs come from cutting-edge conferences, such as Adobe’s 99U and the Facebook Developer Conference. Take a look at how they are presenting program information and then see how you might be able to scale the execution to fit your audience.

Your conference booklet can—and should—do more than simply provide logistical information. By incorporating a more inspirational design you can help shape the attendee experience well before the opening session begins.

Inspiration and Integration: ASAE Annual Meeting 2017 Video Recap

 

A number of Omnipress employees made the trek across the border to participate in this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting in Toronto. As usual, it was an event full of informative sessions and great conversations.

Two members from the Omnipress Print and Fulfillment team that attended the meeting, Tracy Gundert and Janel Savich, talked with Dan Loomis about their takeaways from the week and about two themes that came up repeatedly in their conversations: Inspiration and Integration.

Watch the video below to learn a common challenge that all associations face, and how association staff can use “integrations” to make their jobs easier.

 

ASAE Annual Meeting 2017 Event Recap Video Transcript

Dan: So what was the number one thing that you heard from people stopping by, visiting the booth, or just networking and general sessions. What was everybody concerned about or inspired by?

Tracy: I think they all want to provide, all the different associations, no matter if it’s a trade association, a professional association, they all want to continue to improve the benefits for their members. What more can they give their members? How can they really become part of the value that their members receive from being a part of the association? They want to be sure that they are providing that.

Janel: I think that collaboration, getting together with our clients, hearing how our service fits in to meet the educational goals of their members and the people they serve. It’s inspiring!

Dan: ASAE Annual Meeting always brings people together to talk about innovation, and technology, they always do a good job with that. What types of things did they talk about with integration this year, anything in particular?

Janel: They want that ease to have their systems integrated together so they can talk to one another. Make their jobs easier. Pull the information together; get the reports in one central location.

Tracy: Along with talking about multiple partners, that is certainly one thing we heard, even with print and fulfillment vendors is that they want to have one source. Right now, a lot of them have multiple sources where they are printing at one facility and fulfilling out of another facility and it’s just, you know, its not very integrated in terms of the data. And it also creates a lot more time that they have to spend coordinating it, so they are really looking for that all-in-one type of solution.

 

Tips From The Pros On How To Survive ASAE Annual

 

Large tradeshows like ASAE Annual can be daunting if you don’t have a good game plan going in. Follow the advice of our experienced Omnipress staff and you’ll be able to tackle the event like an Expo Pro!

Tradeshow Tips Infographic

Do you have any tips that have helped you navigate the ASAE Annual event? What advice do you have for other association professionals making their first trip to the big event? If you have some helpful tips, let us know in the comments below!

Infographic transcript
Title: ASAE Annual Survival Tips
Intro: Handle ASAE Annual like a pro with these tradeshow tips from Omnipress!

“Write down your ah-ha notes! This way you will have a full listing of your personal takeaways”
      – Bob, Senior Sales Representative, Conference
“Ditch the work clothes when you travel or go to dinner. That way, you can literally shed the chaos of the tradeshow at the end of the day.”
Matt, Sales Representative, Conference
“The only tip that matters is ‘Wear comfortable shoes!’”
Janel, Sales Representative, Training
“Bring two pairs of comfortable shoes and wear them on alternate days.”
Tracy Gundert, Director of Fulfillment

Stop by ASAE Booth #119 for more tips and advice!
Talk to the Omnipress staff at ASAE to find out how our products will help turn your association’s educational content into a valuable resource!

“Do your homework ahead of time and find which vendors can efficiently check multiple things off your tradeshow to-do list!”
Rob, Director of Shared Services
“All work and no play makes tradeshows hard to enjoy! Try to participate in pre-show fun runs and networking events.”
Dan, Product Director of Fulfillment Services
“Wear your camouflage suit so that you can be stealthy, and talk to only those that you want to talk to.”
Nick Burke, Director of Sales

ASAE 2017 and The Anniversary Effect

 

A few years ago I read an article on the topic of The Anniversary Effect, which is defined as a unique set of feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on the anniversary of a significant experience. Oftentimes, we experience these emotions without realizing why…until we get a good look at the calendar.

Last Year At This Time…

As we head into August, I will freely admit that The Anniversary Effect is in full swing. While all of us here have been gearing up for the ASAE Annual Meeting, I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of excitement, anticipation and even nostalgia.  Just recently I realized why. It was at ASAE Annual one year ago that we unveiled CATALYST®, our newest abstract and speaker management system.

It is truly amazing to see how much can happen in a year. CATALYST has been extremely well-received by association professionals in search of a more logical way to manage their submission and review process. And while the feedback to date has been tremendous, we are always looking to keep that feedback loop going, using real-time insights we learn from meeting planners to continue its evolution and development. We have already released five series of updates over the course of the past year, and version 2.0 will be on its way soon!

Meanwhile, as part of an industry that is ever-changing, we have increased our staff and expanded our skills and knowledge so that we can continue to help associations turn their educational content into a valuable resource for their members.

Fast Forward to ASAE 2017

With so much going on and so much to talk about, it’s only fitting that we’ll have a bigger presence than ever at ASAE, so that we have space to connect with each of you one-on-one. Bob, Matt, Tracy and Janel will be on hand in booth 119 to listen to your challenges and share ideas on how to leverage your educational content for your conferences and training programs.  Are you trying to find the right mix of print and digital formats for your attendees or learners? Need ideas on how to increase the visibility of your programs? Looking for a simpler solution to collect, produce and distribute content to attendees and learners? You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Between the four of them, they have worked with thousands of associations, and can share their learnings with you.

Now that I think about it, I may be just as excited about what has happened, as I am about what’s still to come here at Omnipress.

For those of you attending ASAE, we wish you safe travels, and look forward to seeing you there!

The Lesson from ASAE’s Xperience Design Project? Focus on the Micro-Moments

 

Last week, three members of the Omnipress team had the privilege of participating in the launch of ASAE’s newest conference, Xperience Design Project (XDP). Leading up to the conference, we polled numerous association executives and conference planners at other events to see whether they were planning to attend. There was an overwhelming sentiment of “wait and see,” as no one really knew what to expect. For us 1,200+ that did attend, we are now the early adopters of a new mindset: we are no longer conference planners. We are Experience Designers.

A Next Generation Event for the Next Generation of Conferences

Why is it so important to embrace an experience-based approach to conferences? Because, as Rick Karlgaard, Editor-at-Large at Forbes pointed out during the conference, the rate, incidence and impact of business disruption is guaranteed to accelerate. The concept of an organization maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage is dying. Creating a transient advantage through ongoing adaptability is how organizations will succeed. Conferences have plenty of disruptors to deal with: new technologies, changing demographics, increased expectations and new innovations in learning, just to name a few. Yet in general, the conference format has not really evolved much.

ASAE’s XDP was designed to ignite the long-overdue evolution of the conference, not by simply telling us, but by showing us how to fuse all aspects of a conference together into a unifying vision that treated learning as an experiential event.

Our greatest takeaway? There are so many aspects of a conference that we completely take for granted.

Creating Memorable Micro-Moments

The Lesson from ASAE's Xperience Design Project? Focus on the Micro-MomentsMost of us spend a majority of our energy focusing on the major moments – the session leaders, the content topics, the food and beverage, the layout of the ballroom and breakout rooms, the informational emails to get people to register. What we tend to overlook are the “micro-moments” that can enhance learning, deliver memorable experiences and help people make connections. Here are some great examples of ways to create micro-moments that we heard from our Zone Leaders, our fellow attendees and witnessed first-hand as part of our own XDP experience:

  1. There is an opportunity to broaden our definition and use of “location.” Do you have a 30-minute bus ride to a reception? Use it to deliver CE-credit programming. Want to offer more hands-on learning? Create mobile workshops within the host city. Need to deliver more sessions with less space? XDP showed us how to use a simple radio and earbuds to turn a large ballroom filled with 1,200 people into five intimate learning zones.
  1. Even the most mundane aspect of a conference can become a positive, memorable experience. Instead of a traditional registration line, create a “welcome center” complete with local music, food, beverages, etc. Don’t have the resources to take it quite that far? Have personal greeters on hand that make everyone feel welcome and set a fun, personable tone.
  1. Find ways to engage all five senses before, during and after the meeting as a way to drive attendance and generate FOMO (fear of missing out). Rather than a static agenda and speaker bios, make your conference three-dimensional by hosting an interactive Q&A with your keynote speaker via Google Hangout. Turn conference presentations into follow-up videos, articles and virtual discussions to maintain engagement after the event. Use your local DMO to help bring the sights and sounds of the city to life in your marketing materials.
  1. Attendees want to co-create, collaborate and learn from each other as much as (if not more than) they want to learn from a subject matter expert. Help facilitate these discussions, but don’t over-engineer them. Provide white space in your agenda and physical spaces within your venue to allow this to happen.
  1. Draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Reimagining a new conference experience can be a difficult hurdle to jump. Certainly gather ideas from other conferences. But also look to unconventional sources of inspiration: popular apps and infotainment; coffee shops; elementary school classroom configurations; the workspaces top employers; online shopping portals, etc.

The conference as we’ve always known it is going to change because the expectations of our attendees are changing. Learning is no longer static and two-dimensional. It is hands-on, organic, entertainment-based and fluid. The time to take advantage of micro-moments to reimagine the conference experience is here. The question is, where will you start?

Looking Back on ASAE Annual 2016

“Possibilities.”

If you were at the ASAE annual event this year, this was a word you heard throughout the entire conference. A mainstay of the expo hall where vendors explain the benefits of using their products to association professionals, the word drifted its way into the speeches and sessions of the meeting this year, as well. The result was a conference with an uplifting theme about new possibilities made by breaking through limitations. Starting with the opening keynote, the message was simple: With enough determination, you can achieve your goals, no matter how lofty.

The Right Stuff… Eventually

Mark and Scott Kelly, the only two twins to ever orbit the earth, provided this year’s opening keynote address. The astronauts began their speech with a brief personal history that was very different than what the audience was expecting. The stereotypical image of an astronaut as a perfect young student was not their experience, they assured the crowd. In fact, their path to space began with less than stellar grades. The twins continued to discuss the challenges they faced as they progressed through their education and into the Navy. An example of this difficult road came during Mark’s pilot’s training when he was repeatedly asked “Are you sure this career is for you? You didn’t do well.”

Apparently determination is a genetic trait because both men refused to quit. Instead, they continued to challenge themselves until they finally reached such great heights. Mark shared a valuable lesson that a life of overcoming obstacles has taught him, “I’m a prime example of somebody who was able to overcome a lack of aptitude with practice, persistence, and just not giving up.”

It’s human nature to look to the past to predict the future. But as Mark reminded us, “How good you are at the beginning of anything you try is not a good indicator of how good you can become”.

Applying Their Message Closer to Home

For associations, this idea of perseverance leading to new potential is a hopeful—and timely—message.

It can be discouraging when your association starts a new program with high hopes, but success doesn’t come immediately. Maybe you are trying a new way of reaching out to millennials but are having trouble finding a message that resonates with them. Or, maybe a program you’ve designed to bring change to your industry is meeting with more resistance than you expected.

The message we can take away from ASAE is that perseverance is more powerful than early success. Achievement is earned through persistence, it’s not given away for free. Instead, the willingness to “press on” is the key to succeeding. Luckily, this refusal to give up can lead to possibilities you didn’t even know existed! Once you understand that past performance does not predict future results, the only thing keeping your organization from achieving its goals is motivation.

This encouragement to “press on” comes while associations are facing a variety of challenges in the way members perceive their value. Odds are good that your association is working to find solutions to a variety of important issues. How do you begin to answer questions about finding new sources of non-dues revenue? How do you choose which tools deliver the best educational experience to your members? Or, how do you promote your association to new members in an always connected digital world?

“Taking risks and not being afraid to make mistakes, and . . . if you work as a team, you can accomplish anything,” Mark Kelly would tell you.

 

Taking risks can be an uncomfortable feeling; and, making mistakes is not something most association leaders would encourage. But when an initiative doesn’t show the immediate results you had hoped for, don’t give up! Take a step back and re-examine your goal. If the goal is still important and your methods seem sound, ask yourself, “Is this something that can be overcome with “practice, persistence, and just not giving up?”

 

 

Source for quotes: http://associationsnow.com/2016/08/astronaut-twins-mark-and-scott-kelly-asae16/

The Countdown to #ASAE16 Continues!

As we’ve mentioned before, this year will mark Omnipress’ tenth trip to ASAE’s Annual Meeting. We love having the opportunity to talk with association planners about the high-stakes challenges that arise during The Life of a Conference:

  • How will you handle the inevitable last-minute submissions?
  • Will you be able to get your materials printed before time runs out?
  • Who will upload and organize all your conference content online?

Omnipress has always been a resource for finding a solution to these kinds of questions, and at ASAE this year, we are ready to share our newest offering to help you source and produce high-quality conference content!

If you will be at ASAE this year, don’t miss the big reveal! Be sure to request an appointment for a one-on-one conversation on how this new offering will help your conference.

Working with hundreds of associations over the years has given us a unique perspective on what it takes to create a great conference. We’ve been working hard to turn that experience into something that helps conference planners collect and manage conference content, and we’re excited to unveil the results with our friends at ASAE this year!

PS: If you are not attending ASAE this year, this blog is the next best place to learn about what’s new! Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing the big news along with plenty of details to get you up to speed on what we’ve been working on. Stay tuned…

We’ve got some great news to share at #ASAE16!

Here we are, already more than halfway through the summer season (if, like us, you define summer as the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day). Which means it’s time to start packing our bags for #ASAE16—one of our favorite events of the year!

As an organization, this will be our tenth year at the ASAE Annual Meeting. Although you could consider us to be event veterans by this point, every year we are amazed by the level of energy, excitement and passion that permeates throughout each session. It’s truly contagious, and reminds us why we love working with associations each and every day.

But what we’re most excited about this particular year is what we will have to share with you. Of course, we can’t reveal too much yet. But we have been very busy over the past several years listening to associations, speaking with conference planners, and identifying opportunities to make the job of sourcing and producing high-quality program content easier than ever. The results of our work will be revealed for the very first time to you, our ASAE friends, at our booth (#724, to be exact). And we can’t wait to share!

Don’t forget to book your one-on-one appointment to get a personalized demo of what’s new.

We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

3 Days in 3 Minutes: What We Learned at The Great Ideas Conference® 2016

As a company that was founded to serve associations, we get a tremendous amount of value from attending ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference® each year. We’re there to listen, to learn and to find inspiration for tomorrow’s solutions. And this year did not disappoint.

With over 50 sessions spread across three days, there was a tremendous amount of ground covered—diverse topics providing lessons on leadership, growth, engagement and innovation. What’s interesting, however, is how well each and every session connected to one another, intertwined with three reverberating themes:

  1. Take what’s working and make the most of it
  2. Change what isn’t working
  3. Lead the change, don’t respond to it

TAKE WHAT’S WORKING AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT
You may already have everything you need for success. You just need to change how it’s packaged and delivered. Here’s an example of what this looks like specifically within the context of your educational content.

Many associations are already rich in educational content, but need help gaining visibility for that content to maintain your association’s place not just as a subject-matter authority, but as the source of truth for your industry. Some may think the solution is to create more content or more education programs when in fact your organization just needs to do a better job using what you already have.

Sounds easy, but the silo’d nature of associations actually makes this task extremely difficult.

What this can look like in practice:

  • Develop and execute an association-wide content strategy so that your educational content can be collected from your subject matter experts once, and leveraged across multiple departments, delivered in multiple formats, in a coordinated fashion. This type of content strategy can increase visibility for your association, raise your profile and help reinforce learning beyond a particular program
  • Develop learning programs that deliver the same content in multiple formats, based on how today (and tomorrow’s) members want to learn, such as micro-learning, social learning and binge-learning.
  • Structure your educational programs to facilitate engagement, conversation and collaboration to increase their value to your members. Change the role of your members from attendees to participants. Use your programs to facilitate the solving of problems and exploration of solutions, rather than as a delivery method for more content.

CHANGE WHAT ISN’T WORKING
Change is hard. Actually, change is very, very hard. But, with an informed plan, a thoughtful approach and an open mind, positive change can happen, faster than you might think.

Whether you’re looking to reinvigorate your board, reinvent your membership or chapter model, remove internal obstacles or even change your own leadership style, it’s going to be difficult. Because our brains are programmed to resist change. Creating a path to change takes patience, persistence and flexibility. And more importantly, it requires us to be prepared to drop the proverbial ball at least a few times, learn from those mistakes, and adjust accordingly. Because any change, even by the most brilliant and talented person, requires practice before mastery.

What this can look like in practice:

  • Take time to identify the true cause and effect to make sure you’re trying to solve the right problem. Do your homework! Talk to your members, use your existing data, assess the industry landscape to make sure you understand what needs to change, and why. This makes it so much easier to formulate the “how”.
  • Create a people-centric, rather than task-centric change management plan to help your people understand, embrace and engage in the change before the specific tasks or processes are introduced. Answer the “why” before you talk about the “how.”
  • Break your change plan down into manageable steps, and focus on one thing at a time.

LEAD THE CHANGE, DON’T RESPOND TO IT
One of the few guarantees in life is that change is inevitable. And change is the most disruptive when it comes from the outside-in.

The world is not still. Social, economic and political climates ebb and flow. Technologies evolve. Demographics shift. Disasters happen. Every day, outside influences have the potential to re-shape your industry, and therefore re-shape the role of associations within that industry. If you’re finding yourself in a position where you need to react to the change, you’re too late. Chances are, your association has already become sluggish, and will have to play a fairly aggressive game of catch-up. This is not the most efficient way to operate. Associations will fare much better, remain more nimble and more relevant if they take steps today to build a “culture of foresight.”

What this can look like in practice:

  • Scan your environment on an ongoing basis. Consult with internal (your members) and external resources to identify changes and trends across all categories—social, technological, economic, environmental, political and demographic. Make it common practice to discuss the relevance and impact of these trends with your internal teams and with your members at regular intervals.
  • Look where everyone else is looking, then turn and look in the opposite direction to see what no one else is seeing, and whether there is real, measurable opportunity in that space, and what it would take to get there.
  • Purposefully pair unexpected combinations to “connect the dots” in a new way—to reinvent (a new product, service or delivery model) and redefine (the value you provide to members or what you do better than the competition).

So there you have it. Three days of incredible sessions distilled into three minutes, covering three key themes. We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you have anything to add? Are there other insightful topics you’d like to discuss? Let’s continue the conversation by sharing your comments here.

ASAE Annual 2015: Takeaways & Random Thoughts

Earlier this month, association professionals of all stripes met in Detroit for ASAE’s Annual Meeting. There was so much to see and do (I’m told) that it was nearly overwhelming.

Chief among the activities were educational sessions, including keynotes by Josh Linkner and Sherry Turkle. The expo hall was buzzing with activity from vendors, including Omnipress. We sent three team members: Steve Manicor (VP of Business Development), Bob Hamm (Senior Account Manager), and Holly Meyers (Account Manager).

In discussing ASAE 2015 with the trio and doing my own reading from association news sources, including Associations Now and MeetingsNet, I’ve collected a few takeaways and random thoughts from ASAE 2015 that might be worth a second look.

  • The time for innovation is now. At the opening general session, Josh Linkner spoke about pushing boundaries and asking “why,” multiple times, to break out of your comfort zone. Innovation requires us to be both introspective and exploratory. What part of your association’s conference content process could use a little shaking up?
  • The auto industry—and associations—continue to evolve. Did you get a load of that Volt? How about the Tesla? Pretty incredible driving machines, born out of innovation and further improved by pushing boundaries. How do you plan to push boundaries with your conference content? Which formats have staying power? Which will help your association push into 2016 and beyond? Is there room in your budget for multiple formats? Could there be?
  • Your perspective may require sharpening. Think like a rookie! If you didn’t have a framework for the way your association has always done things, in terms of your conference content, where would you start? Does that look different than the content delivery you have in place now? Try on a fresh perspective to make innovation easier.
  • The theme of ASAE 2015 drives you to reconsider your mindset. (Pun intended. I’m so sorry.) Ready Set GO reminds you to keep moving forward and think of your association as an entity on the move. Where do you want your association to go? How might you get there? Do you think doing the same thing you’ve been doing for the past 10 years will work?
  • The impulse to check your smartphone might bring you out of the conversation. But it might not. Is empathy in decline, as Sherry Turkle suggested in ASAE 2015’s closing general session? Have we forgotten how to listen and how to focus as we got swept up in the digital revolution? Perhaps. But some people use technology as a means of connecting with others—at least as a starting point—and, I believe, all communication is a valid means of conveying ideas and information. That said, many people (myself most certainly included) could stand to put away the device and have a real conversation more often.

What did you take away from ASAE 2015? Add your thoughts in the comments!

Omnipress thanks everyone who took the time to stop by our booth for conversation and information.

Didn’t get a chance to drop by? That’s okay! We’ll share our new white papers here on the blog as well. Enjoy!

19-Point Conference Content Inspection
8-Point Training & Publications Content Inspection

 

5 Signs That Your Conference Content’s Check-Engine Light Is On

Last week on the blog, you learned how to tell if your content engine needs a tune-up. In other words, it would be a good idea to take a look under the hood. It’s not urgent, though. You should do it, but your content engine will still run if you don’t get around to it right away.

When your check engine light is on, however, you’ve reached critical mass. Action must be taken. There are several reasons why those lights on your dash illuminated, from the innocuous to more problematic causes. It could be something simple, like a loose gas cap, or something more serious, such as a catalytic converter that needs to be replaced. Regardless of what the ultimate cause is, you shouldn’t ignore it.

When it comes to your conference, there are a few surefire signs that your content engine needs immediate attention.

  1. You overhear conversations about content outputs at your conference. Two colleagues lament the loss of the printed program, for instance, or voice complaints about the new app. Like it or not, people are more honest in conversation with each other than they are in surveys with you.
  2. You find yourself trying to convince the board (again) to budget for additional formats to deliver conference content. Does your association’s board need to be reminded that content is the engine of the annual meeting? A shift in priorities may be in order. That shock of recognition you’re feeling? That’s the light on your dashboard.
  3. You have noticed that your attendee demographics are shifting. Do you cater to more millennials and fewer baby boomers than you did in the past? According to a survey we conducted, millennials prefer to learn from printed materials. Have you welcomed more international attendees in recent years? They may find printed materials cumbersome; their capacity for additional carry-on space may be limited. Perhaps online conference materials are the best choice for them.
  4. You have learned that attendees have a strong preference for one type of output (say, online conference materials) … except for those who show an equally strong preference for a different one (say, print). As the famous quote goes, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” (John Lyndgate) Trying to win with everyone is a losing proposition, so just do the best you can to offer multiple outputs to your attendees—printed materials, online conference materials, USBs/CDs, and a conference app.
  5. You know fellow association professionals (say, the ones you’ll meet up with next week at ASAE) who have had success with offering multiple outputs. We have found that in the association world, it helps to know how other groups like yours are handling their content. Hearing success stories from colleagues (or reading case studies) may have you wondering if you should make a change.

When signs like these point towards potential danger, it’s best to take care of things right away. Conference content is too important to take for granted, or continue on autopilot because it’s easier than making a change. Attendee satisfaction does depend, in part, on whether content comes in the format they prefer—and everyone is different. The best solution is to invest in your conference by providing as many different ways to consume the content as you can.

The Omnipress team will embody the automotive theme we’ve been using in recent blog posts at ASAE Annual 2015 in Detroit. Stop by booth 515 to learn more and pick up a USB that includes our newest white paper, Your 19-Point Conference Content Inspection. We hope to see you soon!