Author Archives: erinatzzeem

Cat Herding 101: 9 tips for effective meeting facilitation

Cat Meeting

Do you sometimes feel you’re losing control of a meeting and don’t know how to get it back on track? It only takes one side conversation that takes a life of its own or one tenacious attendee to derail the focus of the entire group. Once you lose control, herding the cats back into the corral can seem like an impossible task.

Here are 9 tips to help you become a cat herding champion.

But first, why does it matter? Shouldn’t a facilitator ensure that everyone has their say? Yes and no. The facilitator needs to be respectful of everyone in the room and be aware of his or her responsibilities.

Participants expect that the meeting will run on time, and complete the agenda. When this happens, they feel a sense of accomplishment and that their time has been well spent. If you deliver this consistently, volunteers will be easier to attract and retain for your organization. Effective meeting facilitation is a hallmark of the High Performance Organization TM.

The 9 tips below can be used effectively for any type of meeting; small or large.

Preparation: 3 Tips before your meeting starts

  1. Start with a pre-approved agenda.
  2. Ensure that each agenda item has a time limit consistent with the priority and complexity of the agenda item.
  3. Ensure that briefing materials as required for each agenda item are included with the agenda. Make it clear that participants are expected to have read them.

Onsite: 6 Tips while you are facilitating the meeting

  1. Remind participants of your role as the facilitator. Your job is to keep the meeting on track and on time.
  2. Start by reiterating the agenda, timing and deliverables for the meeting. Note what needs to be accomplished.
  3. Allow equal time for the pros and cons for each agenda item; not equal time for each participant. Call a close when both sides have been well stated.
  4. Beware of rabbit holes. If the conversation gets off track, bring it back to the agenda item. Respect and record items that are not on the agenda and put them in a “parking lot” agenda for later.
  5. Build in regular time checks to the agenda and call out respectfully if the meeting is going overtime.
  6. When the meeting is completed, summarize the decisions and the parking lot items and compliment the participants on a job well done.

If you’d like some help training your leaders to be good facilitators and directors, contact the Zzeem team.

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Filed under Event Planning, High Performance Organization, Leadership Support Program, Volunteer Engagement

Taking Your Board from “Meh” to Magnificent

image-from-rawpixel-id-413315-jpegIs your board of directors a dream team? Do you love heading into board meetings because you’re excited about what is going to be accomplished? Or are you frustrated that the meeting will fail to deliver the high-level and strategic decisions that your association needs?

Your board of directors sets the stage and leads the charge for your association’s success. A great board means an awesome and sustainable association.

Often the CEO faces an uphill battle to move forward because of friction and inefficiency at the board level. So what’s the path to take your board from the ordinary to the extraordinary? Here are 6 tips.

  1. Effective board training.
  2. Top drawer director recruitment.
  3. Effective strategic planning, monitoring and accountability.
  4. Effective, well-facilitated, high-level board agendas.
  5. CEO confidence and conviction.
  6. Managing “difficult” board members

Effective board training

  1. Every new board member needs live training as soon as they join.
  2. Current board members need regular updating of their role.
    • This could be an annual training event or a quick hit at each board meeting.

Top drawer director recruitment

  1. The best prospects are attracted to a strong, effective board. If you deliver that, they will come.
  2. Start your recruitment at the committee/task force level and monitor their engagement. This is your director pipeline.

Effective strategic planning, monitoring and accountability

  1. The board must be engaged in setting strategic planning and accountability for each element.
  2. The plan must be reviewed annually for its progress.

Effective, well-facilitated, high-level board agendas

  1. Design the agenda to focus on strategy, not operations.
  2. Train the President/Chair to stick to the agenda and keep on track.

CEO confidence and conviction

  1. You need to have the conviction to risk your job.
  2. If the board is in danger of making a bad decision, you need to call out and stand tall.

Managing “difficult” board members

  1. This will always be your challenge. Work it.

Want some help in building your board dream team?

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Filed under Association, Association Management, Association Management Issues, Governance, High Performance Organization, Issues Management, Leadership, Leadership Support Program, Volunteer Engagement

6 Powerful Tips for Sponsorship Success

adults-agreement-beverage-567633Sponsorship can be a significant source of revenue for your association, but you have a lot of competition.  To be successful, you need a great plan, a smart process and a powerful SVP (sponsor value proposition).

Sponsors are interested in partnering with your membership organization for one of two reasons:

  1. Because aligning their brand with yours increases their visibility or perceived value
  2. Because your members make or influence the buying decisions for their products or services

So you must provide a compelling case for one or both.

When done well, sponsorship is a business AND personal relationship and both partners benefit. Follow these 6 tips to build an maintain strong win-win relationships with you sponsors.

  1. DISTINGUISH YOURSELF: Know your organization, understand your brand, and be prepared to identify how that aligns with the sponsor’s needs.
  2. CREATE A STRONG OFFERING: Your sponsorship prospectus must be attractive, professional and informative. It must create a business case for an investment in your organization. Clearly define the return on the sponsor’s investment (ROI).
  • Share relevant data including member demographic and purchasing information to demonstrate the “fit”.
  • Define whether the sponsorship opportunity is event specific, year-round with multiple touch points or multi-year. Explain how they can maximize the opportunity.
  • For many sponsors the golden ticket is a speaking engagement where they can showcase their expertise in a way that’s useful to your members.
  • Provide a variety of entry-level to premium offerings that provide a good balance of visibility and direct contact with members. Consider the time required to secure the sponsors. Too many lower priced options take time away from securing higher value opportunities and may undervalue the whole program.
  1. KNOW YOUR SPONSORS: Understand their business goals and objectives. Tailor the sponsor package to meet their objectives.
  2. FOLLOW THEIR BUDGET CYCLE: Reach out to them when they’re planning their budget for the following year.
  3. IDENTIFY DECISION MAKERS: Understand the sponsors’ decision-making process and hierarchy, e.g., who are the buyers versus the influencers? What information do they require – particularly if your contact does not make the final decision? What are their business deliverables and how can your association make them look good and help them be successful?
  4. DEDICATE RESOURCES: Successful sponsorship management requires dedicated individuals who are skilled at sourcing, building and nurturing on-going relationships. This is not trivial. It takes time and effort to research qualified prospects; to develop an effective “pitch” with professional and comprehensive support materials; execute the value proposition; and provide necessary ongoing, personalized appreciation efforts and engagement that is mutually beneficial and facilitates long-term support.

Bottom line: Take this seriously. The more effort and professionalism you put into your sponsor program the more successful it will be.

Find out more about building successful sponsorship programs and the High Performance OrganizationTM on our website. Check out our VIMEO channel for webinars on this topic.

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Filed under Association, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, High Performance Organization, Sponsor Value Proposition, Sponsorship, Successful Conferences, Tradeshows

Are You a Suave Sven or a Nervous Norman? 5 Tips for More Effective Public Speaking.

Nervous NormanAre you a competent, confident and effective speaker? Do you deliver your message in a way that resonates, convinces and inspires confidence in your association?

Public speaking is a fact of life for association leaders. Leaders must address member meetings, stakeholder groups, regulators and other decision-makers. Your speaking abilities have an impact on the credibility and perceived professionalism of your association.

You may be a seasoned speaker or a newbie. Either way, you can improve your effectiveness by focusing on these 5 tips.

How to prepare

  1. What does your audience want/expect? Ensure that you are delivering the information your audience is expecting. What are your key messages?
  2. Speak what you know. Ensure you know your subject matter cold.
  3. Slide deck/script first. Draft your presentation. If slides are to be used, create a high-level slide deck. If not, create a script.
  4. Practise. Find a quiet place and practice your delivery.
  5. Revise, repeat. You don’t speak the way you write. Revise your slide deck/script based on your practice runs.

What to wear

This is not fashion advice, but your attire affects your effectiveness.

  1. Shoes, socks, hemline. Be aware of where you will be standing relative to your audience. If you’re on an elevated platform, their sight line may be focused on the lower part of your body. Ensure your shoes, hose and trouser or skirt hemline are impeccable.
  2. Room to move. Ensure your clothing doesn’t ride up, cling or gape as you move. Ensure you can move comfortably as you gesture and walk on your “stage”. Practice in your chosen attire.
  3. 1-2 steps above. Ensure your attire plays to your audience. You should be dressed in a consistent manner but 1-2 steps above your audience to support your credibility as an expert. E.g. if your audience is wearing business casual, add a jacket to your ensemble.

What’s in your slide deck?

If you’re using a slide deck, it’s not a script, it’s a visual supplement to your delivery.

  1. Cues only. By all means, give yourself cues to remind you of your messaging; but never use the slide deck as a script of your delivery. You’re a speaker not a slide deck reader.
  2. Stories/examples. Make it real. Include real life stories to support your messages.
  3. Images. Ensure that every slide has an image that supports the slide message.

How to mic up

  1. Fixed or lapel? If you present best as you move around your stage or the room space, ensure that you have a lapel mic. This means you need a lapel that is firm enough to support a small mic, and a skirt or trousers with a structured waistband that can secure the support pack, and a jacket or longer top that will cover it.
  2. Podium or table? A podium creates a barrier between you and your audience. If you need to be able to refer to your notes, ask for a table.
  3. Sound check. Arrange with the AV provider to arrive at least 15 minutes before your presentation, and check your sound. By the way, even if you have as strong voice, a mic is your best bet. Your voice could be competing with a concurrent presentation next door.

Engaging your audience

  1. Who are you? Why are you here? Start your talk by engaging the people who are here for your expertise. Ask them what they want to learn from your talk and be prepared to answer their expectations in your delivery.
  2. Sharing/discussion points. Ensure that your presentation gives your audience opportunities to express their personal experience.
  3. Move in. You’ll need a lapel mic for this. Move throughout the room to connect with your audience.
  4. Toastmasters. This is an excellent and inexpensive club to learn and practice your speaking skills. Investigate the clubs in your neighbourhood.
  5. Have Fun and be yourself!

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Filed under Association, Association Management, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Leadership Support Program, Speaking

What is a High Performance Membership Organization and how do we get there?

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More than ever before, members are questioning the ROI on their membership fees.

Membership organizations must be seen to deliver value commensurate with their fees and compare favourably to alternatives. A high performing membership organization (HPO) delivers a highly efficient “back stage” and a highly valuable “front stage”.

Back stage efficiency drives down costs and improves service delivery. Front stage value drives revenue. The back stage elements are the internal systems and processes that support the outward facing activities of the organization. Like plumbing and electricity, the back stage is invisible when it is working well and painfully visible when it is not.

The front stage includes the elements that stakeholders and members see and interact with. They are highly visible and have a direct impact on the credibility and profile of the organization.

8 Elements of the High Performance Organization

There are 8 elements to the High Performance Membership OrganizationTM1:

  1. Governance
  2. Planning
  3. Resource Management
  4. Human Resource Management
  5. Revenue diversification
  6. Member Value Proposition
  7. Sponsor Value Proposition
  8. Stakeholder relations and issues management

These 8 elements comprise the front stage and back stage elements that tie back to the Sustainability Model TM for membership organizations.

So how do we get there?

BACK STAGE

Governance

If you’re an HPO in this area your directors and management are clear on their accountability for the following:

  1. They are to serve the needs of the membership as a whole; not constituent interests
  2. There is a process to evaluate the board’s governance performance
  3. Directors and the CEO are crystal clear on the distinction between operations and governance and that the CEO is delegated all operations decisions within policy parameters
  4. There are policies to govern actions and decisions; including specific guidelines for the CEO

Planning

The HPO has a multi-year strategic plan, and an annual business plan and budget. All directors are engaged in creating and monitoring the strategic plan and review an approval of the business plan and budget.

Resource Management

The HPO uses all resources, including staff and volunteer time, effectively and efficiently; maximizing the value to members.

Human Resource Management

In this back stage element, the HPO uses HR best practices. Every employee has a current employment contract, there is a documented process for onboarding new staff and there are annual, meaningful performance reviews; including one for the CEO, by the board.

Revenue Diversification

This element manages business risk for the HPO. Revenue should not be too heavily dependent on any single source of income (e.g. member fees). Where this risk is an issue, there is a documented plan to increase diversification.

FRONT STAGE

Member Value Proposition

This is the ground-zero element of the HPO’s front stage. The HPO has defined and documented a compelling, clearly articulated member value proposition (MVP). All staff, directors and other key volunteers can state this in their sleep. They can answer “What’s in it for me?” to current and prospective members, and they do; consistently and with a unified voice.

The HPO also has a sales and marketing plan for member retention and recruitment, with the necessary supporting collateral.

Sponsor Value Proposition

This is critical for an organization that wants or needs to attract sponsors. The HPO has defined and documented a compelling, clearly articulated value proposition for sponsors (SVP). All staff and directors tasked with recruiting sponsors are fluent with the SVP. The SVP delivers a compelling case for ROI for the sponsor.

The HPO also has a sales and marketing plan for sponsorship, with the necessary supporting collateral. This includes a professional and appealing sponsorship prospectus.

Stakeholder Relations

Every membership organization has stakeholders that share similar goals and/or with whom the organization wishes to have influence. Your association may advocate to government on behalf of your members an/or may work closely with other organizations to enhance member value.

If your stakeholders see value in a partnership with your association, you will have influence and support for your objectives. The trick is to look at it from their perspective. What can you do to help them achieve their objectives? How do their objectives align with yours?

If you’d like some help from Zzeem in your journey to the HPO, find out more here.

View a 2-part webinar series on this topic: Part 1 and Part 2.

1The High Performance Membership Organization, Sustainability Model and HPO are trademarks of Zzeem, Inc. These may not be used without attribution to Zzeem. www.zzeem.com

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Governance, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Member Engagement, Member Value Proposition, Sponsor Value Proposition

Outsourcing – Legal and contractual issues; What should you consider?

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Outsourcing is a great way to engage highly specialized expertise at a lower price than engaging a full-time staffer. Membership associations have a number of outsourcing opportunities. These fit into 3 broad categories:

  1. Full service or hybrid services from an association management company (AMC): The full-service model outsources everything. The board of directors engages the AMC to deliver all back-stage and front-stage tasks, and the AMC provides an Executive Director who reports to the board. The hybrid model has one or more full-time employees (e.g. Executive Director) and the balance of the association management tasks are delegated to an AMC. The AMC reports to the Executive Director.
  2. Events: The association delegates the management of one or more events to an external service provider. This may or may not be an AMC.
  3. Contract Services: The association delegates stand-alone tasks such as:
  • Bookkeeping, audit/review
  • IT (managing hardware, software and technical support for in-house staff)
  • Webmaster (taking care of website updates)
  • Government Relations/Advocacy

This post focuses on what you should consider in terms of legal and contractual considerations. These are relevant regardless of the type of outsourcing.

The Contract

You should always have a contract with your service provider(s); regardless of whether it is a company or an individual. Your contract should include these provisions:

  • Clearly defined and measurable deliverables
  • Price (fixed annual price or hourly rate)
  • Process for engaging in non-contractual “extras” and out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. travel)
  • Service level agreement (SLA). This describes considerations such as response time and turnaround time for the deliverables.
  • Intellectual Property (IP). This clarifies who owns what. You own the IP that your association brings to the partnership and your service provider needs to make clear what of their IP you may use but not own, and terms under which you may or may not continue to use the supplier’s IP after the contract concludes.
  • Exit terms. What are the terms under which either party may terminate the contract? This should include a notice period even if the contract has a fixed end date.
  • The contract should include a provision that each party has the appropriate level of insurance (e.g. general liability, errors and omissions)
  • If your service provider is delivering services that require compliance on member privacy, anti-spam, labour and/or other legislation, spell this out in the contract.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

If you’re engaging an individual, it may be appropriate to treat them as an “employee” for CRA purposes and make the standard payroll deductions from their compensation. This is to ensure that your association does not become liable for taxes they are responsible for remitting to the CRA. As a rule of thumb, if their major source of revenue is from your association, then treat them as an employee. Keep in mind, this partnership may mean that your association has the same obligation of notice for termination as if they were an employee.

Consider your options, choose what’s right for your association and protect yourself by taking a professional approach to your partnerships. For a more comprehensive view of your outsourcing opportunities watch our webinar on outsourcing here.

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Outsourcing, Sponsorship

To Join or Not to Join – Why Is That a Question? Insight from a Millennial.

Millennials

Written by Anne Mazile – Manager, Marketing

As a young professional in today’s workforce, I always enjoy hearing about my colleagues’ experiences. Whether they’ve been in the workforce for 25 months or 25 years, hearing others talk about their past adventures is always fascinating. Changes in technology, work-life balance and work culture are just a few of the important shifts in offices around the world.

Attitudes about membership associations have also changed. In the past, joining an association was a no brainer. At times, joining an association was the only way to get access to valuable resources and networking opportunities. These days, connecting electronically is often cheaper than the traditional face to face conversation. Also, finding industry information has never been easier. All you need is an electronic device with an internet connection to access the latest news.

Why should young professionals join associations? Simply put, why not?

  • Information Resource. Membership associations are still a great resource for information. Associations are a great starting point to get industry perspective and insights. The content provided by associations are curated to cater to you and your industry. Researching information online might be more accessible today but time is everything. Let the association do the legwork for you!
  • Professional Development. Associations also offer numerous opportunities to perfect your skills. Young professionals can gain new skills that can help them excel in current and future jobs.
  • Networking Opportunities. Make connections and grow your network! Networking opportunities are still a big part of many associations’ member value. Mentorship programs are also a great benefit.

Tips for joining an association:

  • Ask for financial assistance. Associations are a great resource. But, financially, they may not be accessible to everyone. Paying for a membership out of pocket can be an hindrance to joining an association. Ask your employer if they would consider paying for your membership for your professional development. In the end, they’ll also benefit from your engagement.
  • Pick the membership that works for you. Many times, associations offer varying levels of membership. Make sure to pick the category that fits you best. You want to get the best value for your membership.
  • Get involved. Paying for a membership is one thing. Using the resources is another. Researching and evaluating the available opportunities may be a big undertaking at first but, over time, the tools you use may offset the cost of your membership.

Joining an association may be considered to be old hat by some but I would encourage others to look into associations that cater not only to their professional life but personal as well. Find resources that aid your professional and personal life outside of your bubble! Ideas that work for one group may work for yours. I always want to learn new life hacks and time management tips! The old adage that there’s an association for everything still rings true today. Find the hat that fits – it’s out there!

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Filed under Association, Association Management, Association Management Issues, Governance, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Member Education, Member Engagement, Member Value Proposition, Volunteer Engagement