Association virtual meetings have become the norm in the age of COVID. Prior to the pandemic, most Associations counted virtual meetings as a secondary way for members to interact with their organizations. Post-pandemic, are such meetings are probably here to stay. Therefore, organizations need to follow guidelines for effective Association virtual meetings to make the most of this type of gathering.
Unfortunately, virtual meetings have some downsides.
Less Member Engagement
As social creatures, humans thrive on in-person interaction. Going 100% on virtual meetings may seem effective but lack of face-to-face contact may cause the members not to feel as strong of a connection to the organization and other members.
Lack of physical presence can make networking more challenging. Tools like LinkedIn can be helpful, but an organization-specific virtual mechanism would have the best chance of keeping the networking energy humming.
COVID-19 restrictions hurt Associations and Nonprofits. In many cases, organizations did not charge members the same amounts for online events like monthly meetings. Also, for larger events like conferences, organizations did not charge the same as they did for the traditional in-person events.
How to Support Effective Association Virtual Meetings
Here are three guidelines for effective Association virtual meetings:
ONE – Event Management
Take a hard look at legacy Event Management software. Is it geared to handling both virtual and in-person events? Does it have a mobile version so event registrations can be handled via smartphone? Does it have direct integration with virtual meeting platforms like Zoom or WebEx? If not, it may be time to check out alternatives.
TWO -Feedback and Surveys
Feedback from event attendees supports better decision-making by Associations as they strive to apply continuous improvement principles to virtual meetings. Make sure to provide a feedback channel at registration, during the event, and, most importantly, post-event. The post-event survey should allow attendees to provide a full range of feedback so future Association virtual meetings can benefit from this input.
THREE – Networking
The Association should provide as much virtual networking support as possible. Leverage the organizational database to find ways to connect members. Making the Member database more open will allow Members to find others with similar interests and connections. Provide Member-to-Member messaging capabilities so virtual networking can flourish even though the face-to-face variety is still in the process of coming back from restrictions on face-to-face gatherings.
Virtual events will continue to be popular after the pandemic. Following these guidelines for effective Association virtual meetings will pay dividends into the future.