Canceled or Postponed Events: Should the Value Stop for Your Members?

Posted by Sheldon Senek

I was an attendee in a fantastic session yesterday led by a top keynote speaker, Phil M. Jones, as he presented for an industry association (IASB) that I belong to. He really lit a spark for me on to compare the way we used to approach the things in our business and, because of the way the meetings industry has shifted (to virtual) from the pandemic, how we can reframe the way we do business in the future. I should note that the association that provided this session was supposed to hold our annual event this past April. Like so many reading this, who knows how long it will be before we all meet in person, comfortably, for a large convention. What struck me yesterday, though, was that our association thought it was important enough, even with the annual conference being canceled, that we still were given value to help our businesses.

That leads me to this question as there have been a number of conferences (conventions & meetings) postponed and/or canceled:
Should organizations wait six months, or a year or more to help provide value to their members/teams to achieve business success?

At a time where there is a real need for guidance, innovation, leadership, diversity/inclusion, etc., isn’t it important that members get strategies and insight to help navigate their company to grow? Let’s put it another way, how disappointed might members/team be if they don’t have value between now to possibly a year from now (or who knows when since there is so much uncertainty with F2F meetings)?

As another example, last week, I viewed Phil Hansen, who did a virtual presentation on working with limitations and a systematic approach to innovation and creativity. This gave me a whole new thinking of some possible innovations we can take internally, and externally. how we can better help our clients. With both of these presenters, I was given actionable items that I can use to help our company and team during this time (and build for the future).

For groups that are postponing their event and moving it to a future date, it’s understandable — you’re not able to have an in-person meeting. That is a fact. But how do you solve the challenge of your members getting proven, outside ideas/education to help innovate and deal with limitations in your own industry?

Aside from the importance of networking, what is the most important part of the conference? It’s not the chicken or vegetables that’s served for dinner, it’s the content. On top of that, of all the components within a meeting (hotel, food, AV, staff, etc), the presenter is the most flexible part (both in-person and virtual). We realize that the traditional keynote and conference as we knew it might be on hold. However, what isn’t on hold are solutions.

Our strategies have shifted here in our business as I’m sure yours has as well. We’re thinking outside the box as much as possible … like to better understand how you are connecting with your members (for corporate and associations). Are you doing a series of large virtual hangouts, focused on management or sales meetings, or virtual happy hours? Maybe the presenter no longer fits for a keynote because your conference is on hold, but what about 4 sessions over the course of 4 weeks. What about a pre-recorded message or short live presentation to jumpstart ideas for your next internal meeting. What about a message of inspiration for your clients/members (like a motivational Monday)? The options and solutions are endless.

It’s summed up with 3 items:

  • Value for your members
  • How you want to present the value for your members
  • The importance members get the value sooner than later

While the other parts of the event industry are uncertain, let’s bring clarity and provide value to your members/team. After all, there was a reason you were interested in a presenter for your in-person event, right? Your hope and expectation for a positive impact and change remains. Your members need it.

Posted by Sheldon Senek
Sheldon Senek is the President of Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau and writes about expert keynote speakers and Motivational Speakers, as well as tips for corporate meeting planners.

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