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What Are We Missing? Maximizing the Basics at Virtual Meetings
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Note: The following post is an affectionate note to anyone who actively hosts or facilitates virtual meetings. This may largely include Chapter leaders, but it can also encompass speakers, panelists, volunteers, and even other members.
If you are like me, now more than ever, the majority of your day is spent in some sort of virtual meeting forum; and Zoom fatigue is a real thing. As such, when I go to meetings, selfishly, I want efficiency; I want agendas; I want key take-aways and clear action items. I also want to be human; I want to hear how my peers are doing: I want to hear someone say, “I miss seeing you.” Given this seemingly impossible battle of demands, I wanted to see how IIBA Chapters were handling this in an exclusively virtual world. After all, normally, when we are able to have onsite meetings, the stream of information in combination with social interaction is natural. In this virtual environment, it needs to be intentional.
To explore this further, I experimented by attending a round-robin of Chapter events from various US and Canadian Chapters. Here are some key activities and patterns that I appreciated and that you may want to consider…
Incorporate time for networking and community
Networking is one of the fundamental reasons why I belong to IIBA (and I am an introvert!). So, a lot of Chapters have incorporated a few minutes of informal networking at the beginning of their virtual meetings - a short window to greet friends you haven’t seen in a while, acknowledge new faces, celebrate accomplishments, even a light-weight icebreaker (e.g., use the chat feature to survey where you are from or your familiarity with a topic on a scale of 1-5). This might even be a good opportunity to (re)introduce the Chapter Board as well (names, pictures, hand waves, etc.). Make sure you find a way to create the connectivity that makes your group a community; and, as a member, if you aren’t getting that time, ASK for it!
I loved and appreciated those Chapters that did a little expectation setting before the presentation began. They admitted that they might be working with some new technology and that patience by the audience was appreciated. They encouraged attendees to use the chat throughout the presentation for questions or comments; and, most importantly, they had a Chapter Board member actively monitoring the chat to include the questions and comments in the discussion.
Cater to different learning styles
I know we all have different feelings about PowerPoint, but I found that when there was no visual, I was more easily distracted. Those were the meetings where I was more intentional about notetaking in order to ensure I was retaining the information being shared. As a presenter/facilitator, make sure your message is being heard and remembered by incorporating different cues for the different learning styles in your audience.
Highlight upcoming events
Even in this virtual meeting world, my (evening) calendar fills up quickly. I want to know about the next Chapter event. I want to know about the available IIBA Global activities (such as podcasts, webinars, blog posts, etc.). Help me fill my calendar with IIBA fun and keep me engaged!
Communicate how you communicate
I found the various events I attended largely through the Chapter Events section of iiba.org. I also visited individual Chapter websites. As a take-away from the meeting, I wanted to know how to continue the dialog: website, social media channels, email, etc. During a couple of meetings, the presenter/facilitator was already doing it for me. They were clearly taking note of new attendees and connecting immediately on LinkedIn. (Thanks for the new connections!)
Bring me back
In my round-robin, there were a couple of Chapters that called out the benefits of IIBA membership REALLY well. It included a brief reminder on all the things that we get as members – access to the BABOK® Guide, the digital library, webinars, continuing education credits, certification opportunities and discounts, study guides, conference discounts, etc. In a time where there is constant competition for our time, including other professional organizations, these inclusions reminded me why I love being an IIBA member.
Introduce job opportunities
Like networking, job postings are another major draw for our communities; and, with the current economy, there are a lot more employers and potential employees in the market. I can name countless pairings in my Chapter alone that have occurred because of a job announcement or personal introduction. Make sure to grant a little time to anyone (individuals or firms) who might be currently looking.
Support your sponsors
As individual members, whether we realize it or not, sponsorship is how our Chapters survive. This is how they can host events, engage speakers, and even offer professional development days. This year, many Chapters are finding that sponsorship is either harder or quite different. As an IIBA community, make sure to continue to recognize and appreciate those sponsors that support our Chapters.
Ask for (and give) feedback
Especially now, Chapter leaders need a mechanism to hear from members. In our onsite meetings, you could see our facial reactions, note early departures, and hear post-event thoughts. Chapter leaders need to ensure that they are asking members for feedback; and we, as members, should be providing it. That is the only way that we can ensure they know what works for us. In my round-robin, most Chapters provided some sort of post-meeting survey. I participated in two Chapter meetings where they used the Zoom polling function to gather real-time feedback. Those were by far my favorite. It was a gate for my exit and no homework!
Thank you to the anonymous Chapters who unknowingly hosted me! You are all doing great things for your communities! Keep up the great work!
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About the Author:
Koryn Anderson enjoyed a couple of careers before finding her ultimate one. She has been a business analyst for more than 10 years and is currently a Lead Business Analyst at Baird. She is passionate about the BA discipline, has her CBAP® certification, is Past President of the Southeast Wisconsin Chapter, and is the current Communications Director for the Global Chapter Council.