Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 9

"You know next-gen members are tech savvy, but
you can't just get a conference app and call it a day."
Doing, Not Hearing
Your conference formula may work well as it
is, but are there ways to create more value
for next-gen attendees? Once they are at
your conference, how do you engage them
enough that they want to come back?
DECA is an organization that knows
something about that. Most of its conference
attendees are emerging student leaders
involved with its high school and college
chapters around the country. But its
conference model had some traditional
elements that weren't a good fit.
The opening session, for example, "had a
corporate feel, with an awards presentation,
and it wasn't the most engaging for our
audience," says Christopher Young, director
of DECA's High School Division.
Now, they have brought in "entertainment
with more of a 'wow' factor," shortened the
keynote speech, integrated social media into
presentations, and tweaked the session's
overall music and tone to be more relatable.
"Our goal was to keep the show moving,"
Young says.
Many associations are making their
education programs shorter and more
interactive to appeal to next-gen attendees.
People lose interest after about 10 minutes,
says Chris Ballman, SmithBucklin's
senior director of education and learning
services. "But," he points out, "this is
multigenerational-nobody wants to be
bored."
Next-gen attendees are likely to appreciate
"short bursts of content," such as how to
create a great LinkedIn profile, Thompson says.
Ballman warns that presenters may resist
efforts to shorten sessions. But his team
convinced some speakers to cut their
presentations from an hour to 15 or 20
minutes, and the change increased attendee
satisfaction.
More interactive offerings might include
small-group meetings, allowing attendees
to bring problems to the conference so that
they can work on solutions while there.
Attendees also might participate in live
demonstrations or tour local industry-related
facilities "to enhance their knowledge of
leading practices," Ballman says.

Interactive programs help "create
conversations rather than just push
information to them," Young says.
Mobile devices can make typical
presentations more interactive. Through
"second screen" technology-using either
web-based tools or apps-attendees can
submit questions or responses to presenters'
questions through their smartphones and
tablets, and that input can be displayed for
the audience. This way, attendees become
part of the presentation, and they can ask
questions anonymously, Ballman points out.
It's "having them do as opposed to hear," he
says.

Getting Social
The ubiquitous presence of social media
provides rich opportunities to engage the
young professionals who grew up constantly
interacting in those platforms, meeting
planners say. In addition to the now-familiar
channels-Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
Snapchat-conference apps have evolved
beyond displaying conference schedules and
expo hall maps to feature an activity feed,
allow members to connect on social media
through the app, and facilitate live polling
and rating of sessions.
And that means there's a lot of potential to
harness real-time, organic content coming
straight from attendees. DECA puts usergenerated content to work in several ways.
Students apply to be considered for a spot
on the social media correspondent team by
submitting their social media handles and
a writing sample, among other materials.
The correspondents report to their peers on
various aspects of the conference, creating
conversations and connecting attendees.
When students interested in the conference
"look at what their peers posted the year
before, they can see people's excitement,"
Young says. And DECA employs the previous
year's user-generated content to promote
the conference on social media.
"Students like instant recognition, even if
it is just us retweeting them," Young says.
DECA's students may be more likely than a
typical association member to jump at the

Think Casual
A conference's networking
events might pique
members' interest in
registering, but you can
do better than offer coffee
in the expo hall between
sessions-especially if your
goal is to attract younger
attendees.
Young professionals value
personal connections and
typically prefer less formal
networking opportunities,
says Cassie Thompson,
event services manager
at Smith Bucklin. They are
more likely to look for a
casual meet-up at a bar
or even a "sweatworking"
session where they start
with a group workout.
The National Beer
Wholesalers Association
experimented with formal
dinners but found the
social interaction to be
limited, says Chief Financial
Officer Kim McKinnish,
who manages NWBA's Next
Generation Group.
"We have favored more
casual events, such as
happy hours, since then,"
McKinnish says. "We are
also planning to introduce
the 'Next-Gen Jam Band,'
where attendees who play
an instrument will come
together to give their
first-ever performance
at the conclusion of the
conference."

continued on page 10>
july/august 2017

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success

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Success by Association - July/August 2017

President’s Message
Event Calendar
Four Ways Managers Can Help Improve Employee Performance
Attract Millennials to Your Meeting
Address These Employee Needs for Maximum Retention
Seven Ways to Improve Panel Presentations
Growing Event Attendance Through Content: Very Useful for Associations
Thank You to our Annual Meeting Sponsors
Creating a Pocket of Excellence When Surrounded by Mediocrity
Get the Message
Member Updates
5 Reasons to Consider Live Streaming Your Next Event
Strategies for Effective Business Networking for Young Professionals
Young Leader Profile
Buyers’ Guide
Advertiser Showcase
Advertiser Index
Executive Director’s Message
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - intro
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - cover1
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - cover2
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 3
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - President’s Message
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Event Calendar
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 6
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Four Ways Managers Can Help Improve Employee Performance
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Attract Millennials to Your Meeting
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 9
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 10
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Address These Employee Needs for Maximum Retention
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Seven Ways to Improve Panel Presentations
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 13
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Growing Event Attendance Through Content: Very Useful for Associations
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 15
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Thank You to our Annual Meeting Sponsors
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 17
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Creating a Pocket of Excellence When Surrounded by Mediocrity
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 19
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Get the Message
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 21
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Member Updates
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 5 Reasons to Consider Live Streaming Your Next Event
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Strategies for Effective Business Networking for Young Professionals
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - 25
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Young Leader Profile
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Buyers’ Guide
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Advertiser Showcase
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Advertiser Index
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - Executive Director’s Message
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - cover3
Success by Association - July/August 2017 - cover4
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