Archive for the 'Best Practices' Category

28
Jul
16

Bonus content – Event Garde e-news – August edition

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Stephanie Wohlfert. Courtesy of Michigan Meetings + Events.

Q & A with Stephanie Wohlfert, meetings coordinator, MSAE

Q: Learn: What’s one subject you’d like to learn more about?
A: Nutrition Science – Throughout the last several years I’ve become more conscious about health and wellness and what my family and I eat daily. I focus on eating non-processed foods without all the fillers and preservatives. I have a very good understanding of why this is important; however, I’d love to take it to another level and understand the science behind it, too, so I can educate others as well.

Q: Network: Social media or face-to-face? Which form of networking is better and why?
A: Although I’m a fan of social media for so many other reasons, when it comes to networking, I think I’ll forever be “old school” in thinking face-to-face is the best form of networking. I know we are a lot busier in our personal and professional lives than ever before, but I’ll never get tired of physically attending a networking event to meet people in person. I feel that you can connect with people so much more on a personal level this way.

Q: Transfer: Please share with us a resource you just can’t live without.
A: I don’t read as many books as I’d like but my go-to book to keep me on track is “Secrets of the Obvious” by Harry Cohen. One of my colleagues gave me this book several years ago when I was very green in the industry and feeling overwhelmed with balancing my personal and professional life. Sometimes we get so caught up with the hustle and bustle of everyday activities that we forget the basics and how just focusing on a few positive changes will restore that balance!

Q: Tell us about an experience in which you learned something new and then applied it to your personal or professional life.
A: Ah, yes! Last year I attended the Convention Industry Council’s CMP “Conclave” and I’ll never forget the opening keynote speaker, Andy Cohen. His presentation was titled, “The Assumpt,” and it was all about the daily assumptions we make and how sometimes we treat our assumptions as truths rather than reality. Every time I hear or think the word “assume,” I now instantly think of why I should be more aware, keep an open mind and ask more questions.

Q: Which adjectives best describe you?
A: Dependable. I think I’ve been carrying around this adjective to best describe me for quite some time but I pride myself in always being reliable to those around me. Although I feel like I can always do more for people, I love helping out and doing things for others. I want my friends, family, colleagues and those I meet along the way to know they can always depend on me.

26
Jul
16

Improving knowledge transfer in your organization in 3 stages

 

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Karla Gutierrez, marketing manager and digital strategist, Aura Interactiva

The following guest blog post is adapted from a recent blog post by Karla Gutierrez on SHIFT’s e-Learning blog.

 

Learning transfer is challenging because it’s difficult to predict how each person will respond to a course.

The most powerful reason learning transfer is ineffective, as was revealed during the ATD International Conference & Exposition 2016, is that 90 percent of training is designed without a well-defined strategy that facilitates it.

As a training manager and an e-learning designer, you have to provide a comprehensive learning experience, in all stages of learning transfer: before, during and after training.

You can facilitate a glitch-free learning and transfer process by adopting these measures even before the training program starts.

Before the training

1) Carry out a thorough training needs analysis.

A comprehensive training needs analysis exercise with the trainees will help you assess what skills and knowledge they need to excel in their job responsibilities and the gaps in their existing knowledge and skill sets. The insights you gain from a training needs assessment will help you design e-learning courses with relevant content that helps learners perform well in their jobs.

2) Identify the purpose (the what’s in-it-for-me information) of training.

Identify the training goals and learning objectives before you start designing the course. This ensures all team members are on the same page, work towards a common goal and focus their efforts to achieve similar objectives.

3) Align learning outcomes with business goals and on-job tasks.

Establish a clear association between company business goals and the skills learners will develop by the time they complete the course.

4) Plan to provide just-in-time learning using the most appropriate delivery method.

To ensure your training has the maximum impact on learners, provide training just when they need it. For instance, sales reps need to access a course on the last update on a product when they are at the store in front of the client.

5) Meet the learners.

To motivate your audience of learners, managers must ensure they meet at least some of them before the training and tell them about the significance of the material. Managers, meanwhile, should realize the significance of the learning and understand how they can facilitate the learning process for their team members and create opportunities for them to apply the knowledge.

before-during-and-after-training2During the training

You have to ensure the e-learning course communicates meaning efficiently and creates a memorable learning experience.

1) State the “what’s-in-it-for-me” information at the beginning.

The astute learner wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” The onus is on the e-learning designer to provide a satisfactory and credible answer to this question.

2) Chunk content to prioritize and eliminate clutter.

Chunking and prioritizing content ensure your course is clutter free and relevant. Adult learners are short on time; they appreciate a course that cuts to the chase right away.

3) Draw upon the learner’s prior knowledge to create associations.

We learn best by associations. It’s easy to comprehend, remember and retain new concepts when we can connect the dots and discover underlying patterns. Try to help your learners draw upon their prior knowledge or experience to understand, discover similarities and make sense of a new concept.

4) Use instructional strategies that establish relevance.

The adult learner is motivated to apply his newly-acquired knowledge only if he or she is confident it will help him or her tackle real-life challenges.

5) Align content with real-life job roles and responsibilities.

Create scenarios or stories that demonstrate positive outcomes. Incorporate case studies and video testimonials to add legitimacy. Use these media to explain how the learner can improve his or her on-job performance, as the people in the case studies and videos have done, after taking the course.

6) Keep an eye on the learning objectives while you design the course.

Whether you’re writing a scenario or planning an activity, continue reviewing the learning objectives. This ensures your content is relevant and there is no information that does not directly relate to the overarching goals of the course.

7) Divide the program into modules.

There are several advantages of spacing out and delivering your course in modules, but most importantly it has to do with the transfer of learning. When learners return to work after completing each module, they get an opportunity to apply their newly-acquired knowledge.

8) Provide action plans to retain and improve motivation.

Help learners prepare action plans to guide them when they are back to work. These action plans lay out the guidelines that will assist learners to apply what they have learned during the training.

boosting-business-performance-with-a-knowledge-transfer-partnership-sme-event-98_3-Knowledge transferAfter the training

The learning process continues long after the training is over.

1) Supplement the training with “social learning.”

We all learn best when we have examples to follow, friends to share our successes with, buddies to learn from and mentors in our midst. In-person meetings, chat groups, forums and videos of trainees sharing their stories are effective ways to incorporate social learning in the learning process.

2) Provide refresher courses.

Trainees often report being unable to retain key learning points after the training is over or recall these concepts when needed. A refresher course can improve recall. The course should be simple and provide just a crisp and coherent summary of the key learning concepts.

3) Arrange post-training follow-up sessions.

Reflection is one of the most efficient ways to cement the knowledge, identify gaps in training and identify the barrier(s) to a strong transfer of learning. You can send follow-up emails to trainees after about a month to reinforce key learning points. You can arrange post-training follow-up sessions to provide supplementary lessons or use these opportunities to let trainees practice their skills or discuss their experiences as they try to apply their knowledge on the job.

4) Create opportunities for practice. 

Multiple research studies have emphasized the importance of repeated practice to cement one’s newly-acquired skills. Employees should be provided ample opportunities at the workplace to practice the skills they have learned from the training program.

 

05
Jul
16

Start with the last first?

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Ethan Edwards

We’ve written about successful e-learning programs in the past and those of us in the industry often singing the praises of such modules.

But from an instructional designer’s viewpoint, what’s the secret to creating a program that works? How can designers help students retain knowledge and then transfer that knowledge to their workplace?

It’s not an easy ask, but a new e-book by Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist for Allen Interactions, lists 10 principles for creating a meaningful e-learning program.

While I’m not going to list them all here, a few suggestions are especially noteworthy:

  • Design the end of your lesson first. This may go against how many of us learn. And for linear thinkers, perhaps this concept presents a challenge. But think about it. How many times have you started a project with raging enthusiasm, only to run out of steam by the end? Edwards contends many instructional designers focus so much attention on presentation that sometimes content gets lost. So to avoid playing “The Little Engine That Could,” Edwards suggests designing the end of a module first to allow designers to expend the most energy and effort on the part of the lesson that matters most.
  • Create real-life activities. E-learning presents specific challenges by its very nature: Most learners use a mouse and a screen, rather than, for example, role play as they do during in-person learning programs. So in e-learning modules, it’s important for learners to complete activities that suggest real-life behavior to complete a concrete goal. Tip: Design challenges rooted in the real world that have meaningful outcomes.
  • Don’t be adversarial. In a classroom, it’s not appropriate for a teacher to judge and ridicule and the same goes for instructional designers. Edwards says too often instructional designers unnecessarily create conflict and use an adversarial tone. Instead, e-learning should be empowering, allowing for people to experiment and make mistakes. Tip: When creating an e-learning module, write to foster a culture of support, assistance and collaboration.

what-makes-a-good-instructional-designer“Instructional designers of e-learning face a constant challenge of how to create learning experiences that actually make a difference,” Edwards said. “Sophisticated simulations and technically-sophisticated designs seem out of reach for many instructional designers. While much can be accomplished in sophisticated development environments, rarely is it the technology that is actually responsible for the impact. Rather, it’s the powerful design ideas that are grounded on some relatively practical and achievable principles.”

 

28
Jun
16

Bonus content – Event Garde e-news – July edition

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Carla Kalogeridis

Q & A with Carla Kalogeridis, president, Arion Media Services. Follow her on Twitter at @CarlaKalo.

Q: Learn: Let’s say you’re studying for a big exam. Are you a crammer, or do you like to plan ahead?
A: I plan ahead to cram.

Q: Network: How do you help a wallflower, who’s not comfortable networking at a professional event, loosen up?
A: My staff knows that if they ever see someone at one of our events who is standing alone, they MUST go up and introduce themselves, have a conversation and introduce the “loner” to at least one other person. If I am the one approaching the person, I start with a big, warm smile and say something like, “I don’t think we’ve met…” and then ask simple questions to get him or her to open up a little. And when an authentic opportunity comes up in the conversation, I try to give the person a compliment of some kind.

Q: Transfer: What resources/tools do you find most helpful in helping you retain knowledge?
A: I’m outgoing and confident, but an introvert when I’m learning. I like to see a visual demonstration or example or read the information (as opposed to just hearing it) and then I like to digest it on my own before putting it into practice with others. I think it’s because I like to retain my dignity during the learning process, so I want to retreat and make sure I know the material – and then, let me loose and get out of the way! For example, I learned how to line dance a few years ago standing at the very back of the crowd. But once I knew the moves, I moved right up in front next to the teacher and had a wonderful time.

Q: Please share with us a tool or resource you just can’t live without.
A: It’s tough to pick just one… but if one is all I get, I pick “Science and Health” by Mary Baker Eddy. I like to think deeply – particularly about spirituality and metaphysical concepts. I find that having about an hour of quiet time in the morning prepares me mentally for my day more than anything else. I’ve been studying “Science and Health” for years, and I am constantly gaining new or expanded meanings from parts that I’ve read many times before. So that’s a personal resource I can’t do without. From a professional standpoint, I really enjoy reading what people post and link to on Twitter. It’s a great way to read the latest information on a topic and an invaluable tool for research.

Q: It’s almost 4th of July! Which type of firework best represents your life?
A: That dud firework that doesn’t light. Right now, one week out from an association client’s big annual conference, I’m simply too pooped to pop.

28
Jun
16

Plan, attack, conquer: A conference strategy

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Tom Morrison, CEO, MTI Management

With the ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo quickly approaching Aug. 13-16, we wanted to share more advice from conference goers to help you capitalize on your experience. This month’s guest blog post is from Tom Morrison, CEO of MTI Management.

Do you have tips to share? Contact Kristen Parker at Kristen@eventgarde.com.

Like many people, when I attended my first ASAE conference in 2006, I was overwhelmed and distracted by how the massive number of people, sessions and booths. And so I ran around like a kid in a playground.

However, it wasn’t the best use of my time and I wasn’t able to maximize my experience to absorb the key ideas that could transform my association’s future.

So I developed a process I now use for every conference, including ASAE.  It goes as follows:

1) Prior to arriving at the conference, determine the two biggest issues for which you need to find an idea or a solution. This allows you to know what you are looking for.

2) Determine the obstacles potentially coming your way that could have a negative impact on your members.

3) Make a list of the types of people you would like to meet and carry enough business cards to meet them.

4) Study the sessions and events and use the ASAE Conference App to build a schedule that keeps you on track. But be flexible and don’t be afraid to jump into a session with someone you meet.

5) Day one of EXPO: Start in row one and walk every aisle, seeing everything in the trade show. Make notes of booths to come visit in more detail on day two.

6) Day two of EXPO: Visit all booths you wrote down on day one to get more details or demos on products.

6) MOST IMPORTANT: At the conference each day, write down three things:

  • One new idea or a new way of doing something you already do.
  • Something you will do differently on the Monday you return.
  • Someone you met who can help you with an idea.

I’ve used this plan of attack for 10 years now and it has contributed to our association growing more than 1,000 percent in net worth and has increased my professional network the same.

 

31
May
16

Community management is about strategy

pr-online-communities-20368498Although still relatively new, online communities are quickly becoming popular platforms for engagement, discussion and membership.

But there’s still some confusion about best practices and culture, according to a new report by The Community Roundtable and Higher Logic.

“In the current environment, it’s easy to question or second guess ourselves, but one thing I feel strongly about is this: A community approach can help navigate these issues in a way that brings along customers, prospects and employees,” said Rachel Happe, principal and co-founder, The Community Roundtable. “It is the best way, and maybe the only way, to keep our organizations in sync with themselves and with their markets.”

Happe said communities are the most effective way to deliver learning and change – much better than social media platforms, which are inundated with advertisements.

The Higher Logic report contains data from 339 community programs from a range of industries. The first takeaway: strategy. Strategy is based upon a shared understanding of value. In other words, communities must define value to their organization and to their community to foster engagement. In addition, the report found those who could measure that value to determine ROI performed best.

Next: operations. Giving members a voice is key to community success. Communities that provide a formal feedback system, multi-tiered advocacy program and member-led community programs far outperformed their peers.

And then, tactics: Most communities measure basic activity and membership, but going beyond that, including regularly tracking activity, behavior change and outcomes, reaps big rewards.

Happe

Rachel Happe, principal and co-founder, The Community Roundtable

Some recommendations from Higher Logic:

STRATEGY: Create strong, defined value statements for your organization and members, highlighting the shared value of the community. Tip: Boil it down: What’s the value that the organization and members get from being a part of the community – and where do those value statements intersect?

OPERATIONS: Engage and empower members, through feedback programs, member- and internal expert-led programs and by prioritizing getting organizational buy-in and understanding of community. Giving the community a say in its operation can help increase engagement and community contributions. Tip: Tap into the expertise in your membership – communities that include member-led programming demonstrate higher engagement and maturity than their peers.

TACTICS: Focus metrics and measurement on the behaviors you want to see, not just the ones you can easily measure. Everyone measures something, but the best-in-class communities are digging into the metrics that demonstrate the impact of the community. Tip: Use frameworks to better connect behavior changes to metrics so that you can more readily explain the value of the community to members and the organization.

“As community professionals, we need to keep our focus on the fundamentals and continue to reinforce value and success,” Happe said. “Don’t lose sight of the basics; continue the dialog with those that can benefit from your community; and develop an ROI model to define the specific business value that is generated from the community.”

19
Apr
16

Would Mother Earth approve of ‘green’ venues?

Earth-DayOn Friday, we’ll celebrate Mother Nature’s finest creations. Spring is finally here in Michigan and as robins chirp and flowers start to bloom, it’s the perfect time for Earth Day.

Friday is Earth Day, so in anticipation of all things sustainability, let’s take a look at the Green Venue Report 2015, produced by Greenview and Twirl Management.

In the second annual survey, 30 convention centers, representing more than 57 million square feet of space, responded.

According to the report, there are seven best practices among environmentally friendly venues:

  • 83 percent have achieved a sustainability-related certification.
  • 80 percent donate excess food to local charities on an ongoing basis.
  • 85 percent participate in sustainability programs or initiatives led by their city.
  • 77 percent have an employee green team or sustainability committee.
  • 70 percent have a dedicated sustainability coordinator or sustainability manager on staff.
  • 87 percent have secure bike parking for staff.
  • 72 percent can provide event planners a specific waste diversion report for their event.

As for physical attributes, some venues have a green roof, which means it’s partially or all covered with vegetation. Green roofs reduce building energy use, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, beekeeping seems to be an increasing trend, with some venues practicing it on their green roofs.

Another emerging trend: onsite gardening. About one-third of venues produce food onsite from their gardens.

In addition to bolstering accessibility options for guests, an increasing number of venues offer transportation options for their employees. Fewer cars on the road means fewer emissions, so 63 percent of venues offer alternative transportation, or incentives for using public transportation, while 64 percent of venues offer electric car parking and charging.

The report states that while having someone lead efforts is key to fostering venue-wide sustainability, it’s challenging to keep employees engaged. Managers report they spend significant time training staff on environmental stewardship to help them understand the “why,” not just the “how.”

In fact, some organizations hold incentive programs for employees who are the most dedicated to reducing environmental footprints, hosting things such as luncheons.

global_sustainability-green-integrationAnd, of course, efforts would be remiss without effective communications. At the foundation of communications should be a clear sustainability policy that’s shared with all audiences. In the survey, 97 percent of venues reported having an internal sustainability policy and 64 percent said their policy is publicly available. At the same time, 45 percent of venues produce an annual sustainability report.

All efforts aside, Greenview found there’s confusion about terminology and measurement of practices. Data aren’t consistent and standards are lacking.

From the report:

“If these numbers are telling us that convention centers and planners are actually discussing sustainability, yet planners are still not taking advantage of sustainability programs, then perhaps this misstep in communication highlights a significant problem in the way we talk about sustainability in general. Perhaps there is an opportunity for centers to change the way they communicate their programs. Event sustainability conversations can’t be focused on additional costs and impact reports. Conversations need to happen in a way where planners better understand how utilizing the sustainable programs in place will enable them to create a unique and powerful event experience. An event that can be a showcase of organizational brand values, that has the potential to enhance attendee experience, demonstrate leadership, potentially reduce costs and is more efficient and less wasteful.”

So take some time on Friday and think about how your organization practices sustainability. And the next time you’re booking a venue, ask about its sustainability practices.

We’re all in this together. We only have one Earth, so let’s take care of it!




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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