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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, April 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 27, 2017

The most difficult part of change can be convincing stakeholders that it’s needed. You’re working with people who see the meeting through their own filters, including long-held beliefs (beef for Thanksgiving, anyone?). This allows for healthy debate, but can be a stumbling block when consensus is the goal.

How can you manage the conversation without tearing out your hair?

Tip #1

Know your audience

  • Know your supporters and detractors.
  • Pre-wire key influencers.
  • Determine how your stakeholders best accept change—managing the scope (not all at once); demonstrating the new practices (see it in action); hearing it from an outside expert (they always know more than you, right?!); etc.

Tip #2

Prep them

  • Identify strategic goals in advance so everyone starts on the same page. The goals are not part of the discussion, they are the basis for it. Support this by listing them on your agenda.
  • Provide examples of:
    • successful use elsewhere
    • measurable benefits
    • potential outcomes if change is not accepted
    • additional material needed to support objections you’re likely to face

Tip #3

Allow for time acceptance

  • Build in time to ponder the proposals. Don’t expect full acceptance at the first meeting.
  • Get feedback, asking for their likes, concerns and suggestions.
  • Consider a phased-in approach by introducing changes over several years instead of all at once.

One Awesome Idea
Make them feel the change, not just think about it
Your stakeholders’ responses are loaded with emotion. To sort that out, assign each stakeholder a role that represents one participant perspective (e.g., young professional, seasoned exhibitor, one discipline, etc.). Coach them to put themselves in that person’s shoes as you verbally walk through your meeting, asking them to think about how they feel as they “attend” the meeting.

You need to be a great storyteller. Stay neutral by focusing on the outcomes. They need to shed pre-conceived notions and to stay in their assigned personas.

When you get to “happily ever after”, discuss their reactions to determine if you’ve built consensus, need to tweak some things, or try a new approach.

Want More?
There are many resources about persuading stakeholders. Check out a few based on the Google search “how to persuade stakeholders.”

Source Credit:
Aimee Gabel, Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC and David Saef, GES MarketWorks, who presented the awesome session, Win Stakeholder Support for Cutting-Edge Programming at PCMA’s 2016 Convening Leaders.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Tags:  association  events  isae  Leadership  marketing  meeting planners  meeting tips  meetings  social media 

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The Overconfident Leader

Posted By Jackie Rakers, IOM, PFMM, Executive Director, IL Assn of Mutual Insurance Companies, Friday, April 8, 2016
Updated: Friday, April 1, 2016

In our profession, we are asked to speak in front of members several times a year, sometimes in front of hundreds of people. A seasoned speaker knows the rules: write it down, read it, record and listen to it, perform it in the mirror, then… do it again. Practice makes perfect, right?

I have been speaking in front of large crowds for over eight years, am a member of Toastmasters, and have earned the Competent Communicator award. I can speak to any type of crowd with confidence. Or maybe I should say - I should be able to speak to any type of crowd with confidence. After all, I've had a lot of practice.

I used to brag that I put my speech together that morning and actually pulled it off. But I cheated myself and my audience. When I take the time to prepare, I bring valid information. When I practice and know my speech, I know I can deliver a message in a way others can understand. I am blessed with knowledge and ability to influence others by consistently sharing facts, not hearsay. I highlight positive attributes of my subject, versus dwelling on negatives.

Unfortunately, overconfidence led me to a day I will never forget. I stood before a room of over 250 members as I kicked off our annual convention. Part of my role was to introduce the chairman and speaker. I always review the bios, make sure I use proper pauses where needed, and pronounce credentials correctly. Not this year! In my overconfidence, I skipped that important step of preparing and practicing. I'm an experienced Toastmaster. I'm an experienced Executive Director. I've got this.

As I stood at the podium asking for everyone's attention to "Please stand for the presentation of our flags," the room went silent. Everyone rose to their feet. Two veterans began to slowly walk from the back of the convention hall, carrying the flags to the front to be delicately placed into their holders. All eyes were on me.

And I... forgot the words... to The Pledge of Allegiance.

Who can forget the Pledge of Allegiance? Me!

This happened, not because I didn't know the Pledge of Allegiance, but because as I stepped to the podium, I suddenly realized I hadn't prepared. I began to panic. What if there was something in the bio I couldn't pronounce? What if there were errors? What if it wasn't in my notebook at all? As my mind raced forward, I left the moment... and lost my place.

This type of situation can happen to anyone at any time. Hopefully, not at such an awkward time as when the entire membership's attention is on you. I was petrified.

The key is to prepare. Don't shortchange yourself or your audience because you've "done this a hundred times." Be prepared and approach each day with the experience your position has given you, but with the humility of being new.


Jackie Rakers, IOM, PFMM

Executive Director

IL Assn of Mutual Insurance Companies

P.O. Box 116

Ohlman, IL 62076

217-563-8300 Phone

888-403-0935 Fax

Tags:  leadership  public speaking 

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Eight Keys to Success When Creating a Technology Strategy

Posted By Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and CEO, .orgSource, Thursday, November 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 6, 2014

Associations typically have an organizational strategic plan. But there is often a lack of strategy when it comes to technology, even though it is needed in order to implement successful marketing and membership initiatives. 

Your association’s technology strategy must be more than a patchwork of IT systems and digital solutions. Each component should align with your organization’s overall mission and goals. An effective digital or technology strategy is both a communications and management tool. It demonstrates IT’s understanding of the association’s objectives, establishes a methodology that facilitates the accomplishment of those objectives and provides a suite of metrics to determine how effectively those objectives have been met.

Do you want to increase operational efficiency? Take a 360-degree view of your members? Extend your reach to non-members? Ensure you don’t get left behind during the mobile revolution? Having a technology strategy can help you do that. 

Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and .orgSource founder, recently teamed with other experts to develop a strategic technology planning practice statement for the Association Forum of Chicagoland. It concluded:

“To be successful over the long-term, (an) organization must develop strategic technology goals that support an organization’s business goals in every other functional area. …. Understanding the centrality of IT to an association’s strategic initiatives is more important now than ever before.”

Here are eight keys to success when building or revising your organization's technology strategy: 

  • Involve a senior leadership “sponsor” and include strategic thinkers from across the organization. 
  • Assess current technology capabilities and determine if there are infrastructure gaps that are hindering you from meeting your organizational goals. 
  • Identify key features and benefits needed to further your objectives.
  • Interview staff, volunteers and members to gain an understanding of current and future technology needs that will help them meet their goals. 
  • Explain how the technology plan will help your organization achieve its business objectives. Sometimes it’s easier to get buy-in from your board when the pitch is jargon-free and comes from someone outside of IT.
  • Prepare a roadmap for the evaluation, acquisition, implementation and/or enhancement of systems.
  • Set realistic timelines and budgets. 
  • Ensure clear matrix are established and monitored.

Best of luck as you develop or revise your technology plans for 2015 and beyond.


Tags:  .orgSource  association  leadership  strategy  technology 

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Three Ways to Take Advantage of Opportunity Thinking

Posted By Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and CEO, .orgSource, Wednesday, October 15, 2014

You don’t need to be a million-dollar organization to be innovative. You just need to be opportunity thinkers.

Members of the .orgSource team recently attended the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives Innovation Summit. Pam Henderson, Ph.D., author of “You Can Kill an Idea, but You Can't Kill an Opportunity!” was the keynote. Her presentation got me thinking. How could I (and the associations that I work with) become “opportunity thinkers”?

According to Henderson, opportunity thinking empowers us to see potential in new places—across markets, technologies, business models, brands and design. Her definition of opportunity is a convergence of needs, the ability to create the right value and the right conditions that allow it to come together. So, how can an association steer themselves into this perfect storm?

Here are a few ways I think we can harness the concept of opportunity thinking:

1. Be inclusive. A big take away from the Innovation Summit was to understand others’ perspectives and how they solve problems. Don’t assume that the best ideas will come from your board or senior team. Include as many people as possible when you’re brainstorming so that you get different points of view and a new combination of ideas. Collaborate at all levels, from your junior staff to your CEO. Mixing up those in the weeds and those at 35,000 feet might surprise you.

2. Let people fail. If people are afraid to experiment with outside the box thinking, you’ll never break free from the mundane checklists of to-dos that so many associations follow. Swap out “because we always do it that way” with “if it isn’t broke, break it.” Create a culture where it’s OK to try something as long as you learn from the success or failure.

 3. Think about tomorrow’s opportunities rather than today’s capabilities. Don’t go to the dark place of budgetary or staffing restrictions when an idea is presented. Think about your members’ future needs. Better yet, come straight out and ask them. If you can add value (a new benefit, product, service, event, etc.) before your competitors do, you’ve just created your own opportunity.

Innovation takes practice. Experts say that it can take thousands of bad ideas before coming up with a “good” one. Your association can have a 10-person staff or 200. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to thinking outside the box or capitalizing on opportunity.  Just look for potential in new places, let your teams share their ideas and don’t get bogged down with what you’re capable of today. 

Sherry Budziak is an ISAE member and is the executive lead consultant and CEO of .orgSource.


Tags:  .orgSource  association  innovation  isae  Knowledge Management & Research  Leadership  opportunity  opportunity thinking  Organizational Management  thinking  wsae 

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