7 Section Meeting Takeaways
April 24, 20121) Overlapping the meetings really worked – This year we combined the Secretaries/HR, Presidents, and Investment Section meetings in an overlapping schedule at the same location. The cross-pollination really worked as member society executives took advantage of the deep discounts on registration fees to attend multiple Section meetings, compare notes with colleagues from other disciplines, and discuss a wide variety of issues with experts in communications skills to asset management, and everything in between. 2) Every CEO could use media training – Hats off to Tim Kuzma, Dave Gautsche, and Rudy Krasovec, the three “volunteers” who participated in mock interviews in a crisis management situation (responding to questions about a fraternal insolvency, a breach of their society’s member records, and a bill to repeal the tax exemption). As participants found out, it’s one thing to discuss these issues with your Board or staff and quite another with a reporter. Speaker training should be a “must do” for every CEO. You may never get a call from "60 Minutes", but the skills you’ll learn will help you in everything from interviews with prospective job candidates to presentations at your convention. 3) A little controversy is a good thing – The “Connecting the Dots” panel was a highlight of the Presidents Section Meeting, as leaders debated the duration of the interest rate environment and its impact on financial services providers. 4) Members are engaged – Alliance executives are not shrinking violets. We always have a few questions for each presenter prepared in advance just to get the Q&A sessions going. This year, we did not use one of those questions – members were more than happy to ask the ones we had thought of, plus many more. 5) It’s all about the networking – The educational sessions are the heart and soul of any Section meeting (and this year’s presentations received stellar reviews from participants), but it’s the conversations in the hallways that create opportunities for strategic alliances, cooperative joint ventures, and consolidations. 6) All shapes and sizes were there – Section meetings drew executives from member societies of all segments of the fraternal world – small, medium, and large; ethnic, religious, and general. That tells me the program had topics with broad appeal. And while attendance was excellent – more than two-thirds of the membership was represented at the meetings – it would sure be great if we could get even more members there to benefit from these programs. Over 25 societies missed these valuable meetings – what are your thoughts on how to get them there? 7) On-site polling technology is really cool – I confess that I was a doubter, but presenter Greg Jacobson made the polling tool using members’ texting capabilities work unbelievably well. Look for the Alliance to utilize the same feature at our Annual Meeting this September in New Orleans. His polling tool revealed that while many attendees place a high value on leadership development, few in the room carve out the time to focus on it. Here are just a few comments from meeting participants’ evaluation forms:
- Topics were great and relevant.
- Wonderful value; we’ll make sure to attend future conferences.
- Timely topics presented in an interesting manner. Well worth the cost.
- Everyone was friendly and ready to share information.