June 2015
What To Look For When Hiring a Meeting Facilitator - Kristin Arnold
What To Look For When Hiring a Meeting Facilitator
-Kristin Arnold

Guide Your Conference Task Force To Be More Strategic

There's an emerging trend in associations, . Boards and/or Chief Execs are making Annual Meeting re-invention a very high strategic priority. Many are charging existing education committees, or new task forces, to develop and bring long-term recommendations to the Board for their future Annual Meetings.


This type of project falls into the mission critical category since the Annual Meeting is often the major source of organization revenue, profit and membership value. Committee and task force participants are always comprised of loyal, caring and smart folks. They have a deep understanding of their profession, but rarely are knowledgeable on conference business models and 21st century education.


These committees and task forces provide the best stewardship when strategy session facilitation is coupled with a baseline knowledge of conference trends and business models. Most conferences have not articulated their purpose. They need direction on whether to put mission before margin or margin before mission. They need an honest assessment of their competition and true benchmarking and insights on their conference indicators. Once they're armed with these new lenses; big ideas follow.


This trend has had a huge impact on our company. While a number of our team members have exceptional facilitator skills, we've needed to evolve to wear two hats - facilitator plus consultant. When committees are guided with the right combination, they develop a plan that is grounded in evidence and one that they truly own. 


Is your Annual Meeting re-invention primarily staff or volunteer/member driven?


When it comes to the traditional volunteer conference planning committee model, there seems to be plenty of room for improvement. Here are a half-dozen ways to create a more rewarding experience for your volunteers and better results for your organization: 1. Stay out of the weeds...



Odds are, you have some ideas on how to set up a strategic conversation-but less than total confidence in how to get great results. Most leaders approach strategic conversations with a degree of anxiety because it's a skill they were never taught. To our knowledge, no major business school or executive education program includes a course (or even a module) on how to design them.

anchor3What You Are Doing Today Probably Will Not Drive Your
Long Term Conference Growth

Too much of our annual conference strategy is stuck in organizational silos and volunteer committee roles. We need to tear down those silos so that our organizations are appropriately structured to capture and act on opportunities. We need to move volunteers to advisory roles where they can add their brainpower to big ideas and not the conference details. We need to find a new set of courageous conference leaders that will be quicker and more decisive with their decision-making. 


article4Letting Go Of Past Conference Planning Experience

To Foster New Ideas


I have a fairly inquisitive mind. I like to ponder things and ask tough questions. Wondering who, what, why, why not, how and when. I'm always chewing the cud so to speak. Thinking about how to improve things. Make them better. Thinking About Questions And Experiences. I think a lot about how to improve a conference attendee's education experience. I know that the traditional conference lecture doesn't work. The research and science says so. Still, lectures are the currency of today's conference. Why? Why don't we change?


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article5Reminders for Designing and Facilitating an Effective Session


Making a list and checking it twice?  It's not just for Santa.  You can leverage the power of the checklist to help ensure the key elements of effective facilitation are present at each stage of your effort.  Many people think of event prep in terms of before, during, and after.  For facilitation, however, I'd suggest breaking the during stage into finer segments: opening, the core, closing.