Category: Association Executives

Motivational Speakers Impact Meeting Attendance for Associations

 

As a keynote speaker to national associations on the topic of motivation and overcoming adversity, I know the importance of my mission. This coming year, national association speakers will speak to nearly 207 million attendees at 1.8 million events. These events range from major keynote addresses and breakout sessions to regional workshops and seminars. Often, attendees at general national association meetings will also attend other association functions. Impressions gained from national association meetings and shows often filter down, and define the organization when attendees are thinking about going to smaller meetings.

The average low-ball estimate of the cost for attending a national association meeting is about $1,500 per employee for a three-day meeting.  This is not a decision lightly made.

If you are a meeting planner you already know that bringing in an inspirational and overcoming adversity speaker is a great way to kick off a conference. In fact, it can set the tone for the entire event.

In an article about successful meetings, Forbes magazine (February 10, 2019) explained the motivating effect of a dynamic keynote.

“What is the purpose of the guest speaker? Do you want someone to kick-off the event by electrifying the attendees? Generally, the answer will be, ‘yes.’ Your attendees will come in with high energy and high expectations — you’ll want to match this intensity with your speakers’ abilities.”

Announcing that an inexperienced non-dynamic speaker will speak at the national event almost guarantees the reverse outcome of what you expect.

In an earlier article in Forbes (October 16, 2013), communications expert Dr. Nick Morgan related, “A keynote speaker is a temporary tribal leader who can move an audience to action…people only take action because of other people, and a keynote speaker has a unique opportunity to do exactly that.”

Suppose there is no one to move that audience from the very beginning? Not enough attention is been given to what happens when a national trade association declines to hire the right motivational speaker or hires someone who does not engage the audience to help them deal with the issues they face.

Why Take the Risk?

There are at least seven general outcomes when a national association decides against hiring a keynote speaker or does not bring in a speaker who is dynamic enough to move the audience to understand key issues. These outcomes include: lower attendance; a failure to address an important industry concern; a lack of unifying message; a lack of actionable objectives; a lack of media coverage through online, print and electronic media and lower expected attendance at the association meeting the following year.

Helping to avoid disastrous outcomes are what a professional national association speaker brings to the podium. A strong keynote speaker takes the time to learn about your industry in depth; is invested in moving your audience to action; cares about your association’s success; and is accessible will assure a more successful meeting.

At a time when associations and their membership are more far-flung and remote than ever before, the national meeting may be the one opportunity to bring everyone together.

The question may not be “Can we afford to bring an inspirational keynote speaker to our association meeting?” rather, can we afford not to?

 

Contact Scott Burrows, National Association Inspirational & Overcoming Adversity Speaker today through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

Do You Know Your Members and Do They Know You?

 

As I frequently deliver overcoming adversity keynote and breakout session speeches to association executions, I was quite bothered by a recent poll taken by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

ASAE reported organizations were concerned that member expectations were changing and the organizations themselves lacked data about their members and even a capacity to analyze that data.

Can You Imagine?

We don’t often think of associations as “having customers,” but they clearly do. The customers of associations are their members. Numerous surveys — and I have witnessed this first-hand — warn of members going rogue; of members spinning off and either forming their own organizations or in some way, undermining the original organization. Unfortunately, all that this usually accomplishes is to dilute industry efforts, weaken messages, and confuse potential members about the true mission of the organization.

Peggy Smith, writing for Community Brands, April 2019, talked of several major association challenges. Her organization conducted its own survey and found “…the strategic focus has been on member acquisition and increasing revenue. Fewer have been or think they will be successful at increasing retention, although this is a goal…”

What this tells us is the association industry is doing a pretty good job of attracting new members and increasing the revenue from those members, but the industry doubts it will have much luck in keeping those members. It is widely known that attracting new members is not cheap. In fact, the industry standard shows that it can be up to five times more expensive to attract a new member than to retain a current member.

Here is where my idea of “association determination” comes into play. Combining similar findings of these and other surveys, it seems that many organizations are giving up meeting the expectations of existing members, they are unwilling to overcome adversity; to learn about their needs, in order to keep attracting new members. As it is more expensive to attract new members, many organizations go into a cycle of doing the same thing over and over and essentially marching in place.

Organizations that are determined to retain their members, to learn about them, to really listen to what they are saying are the winners in this scenario. One of the most effective ways to retain members is to continuously engage them. Certainly, we have the means to do so, either by personal calls thanking them for being members, or listening to their concerns and needs, or creating vibrant communities within the association community.

We can be determined to use a blend of modern technology as well as traditional methods to keep members engaged, using tools from mobile apps and websites, to online forums and online surveys, to personal thank you letters and one-on-one discussions.

When Associations Fail

Forbes magazine, in a 2018 article on why associations fail, stress at least three important things associations must do to remain vibrant:  build a strong consensus among the existing membership; make sure the membership supports what they have helped to build; and most important – listen more than you talk.

Are we willing to overcome the temptation to simply take in more and more “followers” rather than to engage, include and reach out to the committed members we already have? Let’s not forget that our “customers” are our greatest strength. Be determined to learn who they are, retain them, value them and listen to their needs. In turn they will be your greatest ambassadors.

 

To book Scott Burrows, Inspirational Overcoming Adversity Speaker for Association Executives, contact him through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169