#ASAE16 Lessons on session formats

I did something a little different this time at #ASAE16 and it worked! From each session I attended, I sent an email to myself with a couple of key takeaways. I just read those emails and it was like a flashback. This was a perfect complement to my live tweeting which captured cool ideas, pics of slides and curated other learners’ insights. But my strongest aha was how important the session format is to learning and engaging.

The best two sessions I attended were Motivating Rogue Chapters and Volunteer Story Slam. Check out the handouts on the ASAE16 site. What made these two shine were in part the content leaders and in part the content. A lot had to do though with the session structure.

In Motivating Rogue Chapters, each of four content leader shared their real-life scenario and then asked us in small groups to solve for it after which they shared the “rest of the story.” It kept us engaged, help us practice problem-solving and let us learn from case studies. A few gems:

  • Being clear of why we have chapters: “Chapters exist to help members succeed and prosper” from Specialty Equipment Market Association.
  • Share eye-opening data that tells the story for you, rather than navigating opinions from Project Management Institute.
  • Sometimes chapters do need to sunset so reinforce and reward volunteer leadership qualities for both program
    development and program sunset from Specialty Equipment Market Association.
  • Sometimes dissolving can lead to a fresh approach as American Society of Radiologic Technologists experienced when a new chapter emerged from the “ashes” of another.

Drawing from the Ignite and PechaKucha formats, Volunteer Story Slam drew seven association pros to share key points on seven topics which pretty much followed the seven areas of good volunteer management: the volunteer plan, selecting/assigning, training staff, strategic relevance (aka meaningful relationships), branding, and appreciation/recognition.

Lots of take-aways but my favorite two came from Liz Messner, IOM, CAE / Society of Petroleum Engineers and Caitlin Couture, CAE / Society of Interventional Radiology. Liz offered a solid volunteer program takes two: the organization and the right opportunity. Caitlin reminded us that effective volunteering takes effective staff liaisons and that means investing in staff training.

Beyond these formats, ASAE16 offered the Hive, short, medium and long sessions, pop-ups and much more. The traditional “talk at me” sessions generated far fewer aha’s. What’s your favorite session format?