Category Archives: Leadership

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

Association Trends – What’s Happening in Europe?

Dutch DelegationBy Asif Ahmed, Manager at Zzeem

Zzeem recently hosted an European-Canadian summit to exchange views on how associations and Association Management Companies (AMCs) operate across Canada and abroad. The 10-member delegation represented various Dutch associations and AMCs. There seemed to be a lot of similarities and differences between Europe and Canada not only in the way associations are run but also in what members perceive as value.

Current research demonstrates that networking is the major reason why people become members of an association in North America. Similarly, it stands true for the Dutch too. One member of the delegation noted that “an opportunity to meet peers and socialize” is the reason why people join an association and go to events. It’s the member to member interaction that everyone is looking for whether it be in Europe or North America. The other similarity that I observed was the fact that their members are looking for smaller, more intimate events where there are more opportunities to talk to the attendees as opposed to the big conferences with umpteen education sessions where people are busy trying to catch the next session.

One of the associations in the Netherlands has had huge success in achieving record attendance at their events by making them free for members to attend. The story doesn’t end there. They have gone a step further by penalizing the no-shows. Yes you read it right! They charge 30 Euros (CAN $45) as they consider it to be disrespectful to register and not show up at the event.

In The Netherlands, they have incorporated XDP which stands for Xperience Design Project.

The next generation of conferences are evolving as multidisciplinary, experiential marketing platforms to better personalize the learning and networking options for attendees. They’re also a hell of a lot more fun.

— Greg Oates

This is fairly a new phenomenon for the North American market. So what is XDP? It is an event built specifically for leaders who plan, design, execute, and support association events and want to:

  • Attract and invite the right people to their events
  • Create positive experiences for the audience before, during, and after the event
  • Keep attendees engaged and, most importantly, coming back

Young Professionals Network (YPN) is yet another growing trend that all parties are experiencing with respect to the structure of their associations. The Europeans have made great strides to empower the younger members by letting them have their own Board and budget for events, which is laudable. However, the challenge they’re facing is the transition for the young professionals to move over to engagement in the ‘regular’ association (for a lack of a better word) once they have crossed 40.

At the end of the day, it was a very meaningful exchange and my regret is that we didn’t get a chance to record the audio of the conversation. Nonetheless, I am happy that they left with some sweet memories – of the mutual learning and the Timbits that we ordered.

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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

Even Associations Experience the “Seven Year Itch”

Seven Year ItchThe “Seven Year Itch” is more than just a romantic notion made famous by Hollywood, where partners take stock of their relationship and decide whether it’s working or it’s time to find something new and “better”.

This also happens to associations and their association management partners.

After all, association management is like any other relationship. In the beginning, each partner is excited and looks forward to a great future together. However, after a time, the “honeymoon period” comes to an end; reality sets in and both parties realize neither one is perfect.

It is at this point that both parties must address any challenges or concerns that arise – real or perceived – in a timely, open way. Otherwise, one or both run the risk of becoming resentful and dissatisfied. These negative feelings can further fester and negatively impact the relationship.

Communication is key to managing the “itch”! – 4 tips

  1.  The moment you think you have an issue – big or small, address it right away.
  2. Keep all conversations open, honest and constructive with solutions and measures of future success identified.
  3. Coordinate quarterly “touchpoint” meetings with the association’s leadership and the association management executives to discuss the relationship. This is when you both highlight what works and where improvements can be made.
  4. Once a year, conduct a more in-depth annual review that includes board and staff feedback prior to your discussion.

Don’t be intimidated by the “Seven Year Itch”.

I am aware of many associations who periodically evaluate their management services and/or conduct an RFP process to compare other services and fees – often around the seven-year timeframe. This is healthy and is a great opportunity for each partner to assess the current and future relationship. It represents a new stage in your relationship, where both of you have the opportunity to build upon what you have accomplished together.

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Bylaws – Your Association’s Playbook for a Winning Team!

playbook

Many directors think bylaws are something the association is required to have but don’t see it as a vital tool for how they do business. It is considered complicated and full of legal language that no one really understands. Often no one looks at them and they gather dust.  This is a CRITICAL mistake!

Think of your association as a sports team and the bylaws your playbook. Essentially the bylaws provide important instructions about the team and individual players and how the association plays the game. If the board doesn’t follow the “rules”, the association and individual directors can face serious consequences.

Association bylaws are designed to ensure stability, continuity, and structure. They are a required legal document that represents an agreement between the association and its members. They provide the foundation for good governance practices which in turn should lead to positive results.

It is important that your bylaws: 

  • REPRESENT REQUIRED LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS AND INTENT: The jurisdiction under which your association has been incorporated has specific acts and legal requirements that must be included in your bylaws and governance structure.

TIP: Invest in hiring a lawyer who specializes in not-for-profit legislation to provide the bylaw content and ensure your bylaws are compliant with current legislation.

  • ARE HIGH LEVEL AND SIMPLE: Provide just enough detail to ensure the association has adequate direction and is compliant. Address high-level governance issues such as the association’s purpose; board and officers structure, position descriptions, responsibilities, terms of office, succession and removal, official meeting requirements, membership provisions, voting rights and requirements, conflict of interest processes, how bylaws can be changed, and other non-negotiable items that reflect the association’s work.

TIP: Create policies that are separate from the bylaws. They will allow your association to address more detailed governance requirements in a less rigid format.

  • ARE RELEVANT: Things change and your governing documents need to reflect new realities and opportunities. The board and staff should review the bylaws annually and make revisions as needed.

TIP: Make sure the changes make long-term sense and will not unduly restrict the organization’s progress.

  • ARE SHARED AND UNDERSTOOD: All directors are legally bound to follow everything in the bylaws and what it means for the association. If a grievance is filed by a board member, volunteer, employee or recipient of services, the law typically sides with the bylaws. Ensure that new directors receive the bylaws upon installation and all directors and staff re-familiarize themselves with the provisions regularly.

TIP: Ensure an overview of the association bylaws are part of an annual Board Orientation session.

Don’t leave your bylaws on the sidelines – make them part of your winning team!

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Filed under Association, Association Management, Association Management Issues, Governance, High Performance Organization, Issues Management, Leadership