Archive for February, 2020

World Health Organization Publishes Coronavirus Event-Planning Guide

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

As concern about the coronavirus grows, the World Health Organization recently released a report with recommendations about keeping attendees safe at large events.

Attendee health and safety are always top of mind for meeting professionals. However, with people worldwide growing increasingly concerned about the spread and impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), many organizers are weighing whether they should still hold their conferences as planned—or if cancellation or postponement is the better option.

Many factors go into making that decision, but for organizations that decide to hold their event as planned, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a helpful resource on February 14.

Key Planning Recommendations for Mass Gatherings in the Context of the Current COVID-19 Outbreak” is a nine-page document that offers both general and coronavirus-specific considerations for organizers hosting large events.

The more general recommendations include, for example, establishing contact with local and national public health authorities and providing attendees with information on  proper hand hygiene and coughing etiquette and how to access local healthcare if they need it.

In context of coronavirus specifically, the report has several recommendations. Among them: that planners consider crowd density and venue layout; the number of participants coming from countries or areas affected by the COVID-19 outbreak within 14 days of their event; and the age of attendees, since the elderly seem to be more affected.

In addition, the document outlines what to do if meeting attendees exhibit symptoms consistent with the virus during the event. “Organizers need to consider where any participant who becomes unwell with COVID-19 symptoms will be treated and how they will be transported to [a] treatment facility,” WHO advises. The report also suggests that organizers may need to provide isolation facilities at the venue for participants who develop symptoms and must wait for a health assessment.

Planners also need to consider the longer-term impacts if an attendee falls ill. “Participants at events sometimes expect they will be returned to their home country for medical treatment rather than be treated in the host country, which isn’t possible for anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 illness,” WHO says.

Several associations with conferences coming up in the next few months have already taken some of these precautions to ensure a safe and productive onsite experience for attendees. Last week, the National Association of Broadcasters affirmed that its April 2020 NAB Show will take place in Las Vegas as planned and announced it will devote additional resources to coronavirus concerns.

“While the NAB stands firm in its commitment to hold the convention as planned, the health and safety of attendees and participants are NAB’s top priority,” the organization said in a press release. “To that end, NAB is dedicated to providing rapid responses and assistance in support of the global NAB Show community’s participation plans.”

NAB’s event management team launched a resource page for attendees and announced that it is following all guidance and safety measures issued by WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; making sure that medical care is readily accessible to address immediate health concerns; and working with the convention center, airport, and hotels to coordinate appropriate safety procedures.

The International Communication Association is taking similar measures for its annual conference, which is scheduled to take place in May in Australia. “ICA is not in a position to make medical decisions in a vacuum, and our policy will be guided by the practical necessity of what is allowed by the Australian government which is, in turn, advised by the World Health Organization as the situation evolves,” ICA said in a press release.

What additional precautions has your association taken related to participant health and safety due to coronavirus? Please share in the comments.

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Daily Buzz: What Meeting Planners Want From Speakers

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The factors that lead to a successful presentation. Also: a look at the most recent changes in the social media landscape.

At professional conferences, speakers are responsible for delivering informative and entertaining presentations. As a result, they often make or break an event.

“When retaining speakers to present at their conference or convention, meeting planners must tread very carefully,” says professional speaker Jeff Davidson on the Plan Your Meetings blog. “Picking the wrong speaker for an event can have disastrous consequences.”

What are meeting planners looking for in the right speaker? For starters, a veteran who has presented to dozens, or even hundreds, of groups—someone who knows how to present with impact, Davidson says. Beyond that, someone who can tailor a presentation for a specific audience.

In addition, planners want speakers who can engage with that audience by asking questions, posing dilemmas, and encouraging participation. “Interaction can be a notable, even memorable factor for audience members, who have sat in front of one staid delivery after another,” Davidson says.

An effective speaker is also succinct, Davidson argues. Event speakers should be able to stay on time and on topic, even when plans change.

“The seasoned speaker, on the fly, knows how to convert what was scheduled to be a 45-minute presentation into what now has to be a 32-minute presentation, and has the ability to do so without the audience knowing the difference,” Davidson says.

Keeping Up With Social Media Trends

Are you shifting your social conversations yet? “User sharing of content via reposts and retweets on Facebook and Twitter declined 18%” via @Forbes #assnchat #nptech #socialmedia

— debbie willis (@debbieawillis) February 24, 2020

By now, it’s a safe bet that your organization has a social media strategy. But is it the right one? A new report from the audience intelligence platform Shareablee highlights how social media users are changing the way they’re engaging with U.S. brands, Forbes reports.

According to Forbes’ summary of the report, while the total amount of engagement went up overall, Facebook made up a smaller share of total engagement between 2018 and 2019, falling 3 percent—while the Facebook-owned Instagram rose by 3 percent. (Instagram makes up the lion’s share of engagement, with 70 percent of total likes, shares, and comments in 2019.) Not only has performance changed across platforms, but it’s also changed across content type: Video engagement across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram grew 8 percent, from 23.9 billion actions in 2018 to 25.9 billion in 2019.

Other Links of Note

What does the nonprofit industry look like today? Nonprofit Quarterly presents a map of the industry’s economy in 2020.

For digital transformation to be successful, your organizational culture also needs to change, writes Melissa Henley in CMSWire.

Looking to redesign your office? BizBash asks event professionals how they’re designing their own spaces to inspire creativity.

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Could Audience Curation Boost the Onsite Experience?

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

A lot of thought and time go into curating speakers and sessions for association conferences. But would curating your audience also have a benefit? A look at some possibilities.

A few days ago I came across post on titled “5 Radical Ideas to Re-Imagine Conferences.” All five ideas provided food for thought, but it was the first one that got me thinking.

V R Ferose, senior vice president and head of SAP Engineering Academy, suggested that conference organizers “curate the audience and not just the speakers.”

“Make it a little difficult for people to attend the conference. Make it aspirational. This is one way to create demand,” he wrote. “Have a simple questionnaire; ask why people want to attend the conference in the first place. The response would indicate how serious the participant is.”

He offered the example of The Human Gathering, a three-day conference that brings together the top minds in business, technology, philanthropy, and the arts. People who are interested in attending the 150-person event are required to apply, and according to The Human Gathering’s website, attendees are selected with the goal of having a completely immersive experience where people get to “know each other and participate in various activities that spur a deep human connection.”

From my experience attending conferences and writing about them, it does often feel like more time is spent on recruiting the right speakers and even session topics than on curating or considering the attendee list. For example, it’s likely your association is working to ensure that its speakers come from different demographics and backgrounds and that the same people aren’t being selected year after year. But is that same emphasis put on your attendees?

And focusing on audience curation doesn’t necessarily only mean selecting people based on an application process, which could become burdensome or even inadvertently leave people out.

One initial step to take is to review your attendee demographics from your previous year’s meeting and determine where there are gaps. For instance, are the bulk of your attendees men, even though women make up the majority of your industry? Understand what is keeping women away and consider what you can do to make it easier for them to attend.

However, if you are going to go the application route, your large annual conference probably isn’t the right event for that approach. Instead, follow the example of The Human Gathering and start small. That will be more manageable, and you can scale up if you find it successful.

Even if you’re not going to actively take steps to curate your audience, I could see some value in requiring people to answer this question during the registration process: Why do you want to attend?

With those answers in hand, you may be able to send personalized schedules to attendees based on their responses. Or if you have a lot of attendees responding with “I want to increase my data analytics skills,” but you have few sessions scheduled on that topic, you may be able to add them and meet a previously unknown attendee need.

What strategies has your association used to curate the audience at your conferences or other events? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Associations Cancel Events, Shake Up Schedules in Response to Coronavirus

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Numerous events big and small have had to change their schedules or even cancel in response to lingering concerns about the Wuhan coronavirus. The disease led to the recent cancellation of Mobile World Congress, among others.

While the decision to cancel Mobile World Congress for reasons related to the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, dominated industry headlines last week, that massive global event isn’t the only one affected by the spread of the disease.

Far from it. Events, including many run by associations, have faced major disruptions, delays, and even cancellations. And some of those affected aren’t even taking place in Asia—showing how concerns about the disease stretch beyond Chinese borders.

Here are just a few such events that have been affected:

Inspired Home Show. While the International Housewares Association plans to continue the event, taking place in Chicago next month, IHA canceled the International Sourcing Expo, a part of the tradeshow that was to include dishes, flatware, and other household products made by 500 Chinese companies, according to the Chicago Tribune. “They are factories that are sponsored by the Chinese government … with those Chinese factories, the challenge is that they can’t get here,” said Leana Salamah, the association’s vice president of marketing, in comments to the newspaper.

ILEA Operations Summit. The International Exhibition Logistics Association’s event, which was to be held in Bangkok last week, was postponed until September 2020, according to a note on its website.

Facebook Global Marketing Summit. While not an association event, Facebook’s March marketing event is high-profile, drawing more than 5,000 people to San Francisco’s Moscone Center each year. In a statement to Recode, Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison said the decision  to cancel was made out of caution over “evolving public health risks.”

Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition. This event, run by the National Business Aviation Association, was supposed to take place April 21-23 in Shanghai, but NBAA canceled the event, saying that the uncertainty caused by the disease had made it hard to finalize important decisions. “While the Chinese government is taking commendable steps to address the coronavirus outbreak, the current situation has presented a very challenging environment for decision making and action for ABACE participants to fully prepare for the event,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “This necessary step is being taken in the spirit of partnership, collaboration, and transparency.”

Tokyo Marathon. The Japanese race, taking place March 1, is being limited to just elite runners, notes Outside magazine. While the event is more than 1,500 miles away from the Wuhan region, the limiting of the race participants highlights the nature of the risk that organizers see for the public. Concerns about health risks are also leading another major race managed by an association, the Boston Marathon, to consider its options.

International Congress on Infectious Diseases. This annual event, which was to take place in Malaysia this week, has been delayed until September—but unlike some other events, it’s largely because of the need for the services of members of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. In a statement, ISID President Marc Mendelson noted many of its planned attendees are needed on the home front. “The prevention of further spread and the effective containment of COVID-19 is our top priority,” Mendelson said in the statement. “The people who attend the ICID are critical to the national, regional, and international response to the epidemic and are needed at home in order to engage with and protect their own communities.”

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Put Your “About Us” Page to Work for Members

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Your website’s “about us” page can say a lot or very little about your organization. Go beyond bland descriptions and a staff list to make this page more engaging, a place where members can build connections with your team and your community.

There are so many ways for people to make connections in the digital world—maybe you click “connect” on LinkedIn or “follow” on Twitter—but there’s also a tried-and-true website page that almost every business and brand in the world uses to connect with customers: the “about us” page.

When was the last time you thought about your “about us” page—not just whether your staff list is current, but whether the page is doing the work you want it to do for your organization? The best “about us” pages have something in common, according to Ramona Sukhraj, head of editorial content at Impact, an inbound marketing firm.

“There isn’t an exact formula you have to follow,” Sukhraj wrote in a blog post. “You simply want your ‘about us’ page to be interesting, informative, and personable. You want to give your prospects a reason to fall in love with your brand.”

The Council on Social Work Education is approaching its “about us” page redesign with that goal in mind. “Anything we can do to make the ‘about us’ page a little bit more personal—whether it’s video, photos, or animation—helps us say, ‘This is who we are, and this is how we can help you,” says CSWE President and CEO Darla Spence Coffey, Ph.D., MSW. “The page should serve members and help advance social work education.”

Associations with text-heavy “about us” pages should consider making changes that align with their membership or mission and strategic goals, says Spence Coffey. And if it’s been more than a year since you’ve updated the page or if you’ve noticed that inbound traffic has been lagging, it could be time to make some changes.

Currently, CSWE’s “about us” page features a couple of paragraphs of text about the organization’s mission, along with a menu of links to related pages, including CSWE history and a staff directory with professional headshots.

In the months ahead, the page will be redesigned to inject more storytelling, personal photos, compelling graphics, and even videos to engage members at a deeper level. “The ‘about us’ page should be a conduit to connect members and staff,” Spence Coffey says.

Aside from delivering engagement value, it’s a good idea to keep in mind user-experience and accessibility design principles to make the page open and accessible to all. A great example of an “about us” page with accessibility baked in is the one on the website of the National Association of the Deaf. It features bios written by individual employees and YouTube videos where staff members explain their job and tell a fun fact about themselves via sign language. Here’s an example from Jenilee Marques, NAD’s front desk assistant:

Has your association made changes to improve the ‘about us’ page? How do those changes better serve members? Post your comments, ideas, and examples below.

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