Plan Your Meetings’ New Digital World

Posted 4 weeks ago @

VirBELA-Expo

To help combat the widespread in-person-event disruptor—the coronavirus—the Plan Your Meetings live event team is leveraging another disruptor by holding events in a virtual world.

Don’t be confused, these are not videoconference calls; these events take place in an online virtual world. No one will be able to see the real you—there’s no camera involved—they’ll only see your avatar. Confused? Watch this video for a basic overview:

Doing a test run with some other Meeting Professionals International and Plan Your Meetings staff, I was reminded—only in the most basic sense—of the first online virtual world I experienced back in 1998 (Active Worlds). That, of course, was on a dialup internet connection with jumpy-blocky graphics that took time to actually render on the screen—it was slow and the audio wasn’t very good as few people had quality microphones, but it still dazzled users as the most visually stunning virtual world yet available.

In the intervening decades, many more people have experienced and become comfortable traversing virtual worlds such as Second Life. The VirBELA Open Campus platform in which Plan Your Meetings live events will take place, however, is a huge step forward for holding interactive events in virtual worlds.

What you’ll experience “in-world”: education and one-on-one networking, as you’d encounter at any previous, in-person Plan Your Meetings live event. You walk around the various rooms and locations (with your avatar), talk with industry peers and, of course, use emotes (ways to communicate with your avatars movement, such as clapping or dancing). Perhaps the most interesting emote in this context is that of shaking hands with other avatars—when was the last time you shook someone’s hand without subsequently applying sanitizer gel? As with any hosted buyer-type program, attendance at Plan Your Meetings live virtual events are free for planners—you just need to register.

Once you register to attend a free Plan Your Meetings live virtual event, you’ll be sent all of the information needed to get started, such as instructions on downloading and installing VirBELA as well as tips to help you make the most of the experience. I recommend exploring the virtual world prior to the scheduled event so you can get accustomed to the most basic controls and options—you’ll need to build your avatar, anyhow, so after creating the look for the virtual you, just poke around. (If you don’t have time in advance to do anything beyond designing your avatar, that’s fine as you’ll get a quick tutorial at the start of the event. But if you’re totally new to virtual worlds, I strongly encourage spending a few minutes exploring in advance.)

Upcoming Dates

July 30 – Northern California

Aug. 13 – Northwest U.S.

Aug. 26 – Rocky Mountain Region

Sept. 10 – Midwest U.S.

Sept. 23 – Southern California

Oct. 8 – Texas

Oct. 22 – Northeast U.S.

Nov. 5 – Online and in-person at MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC)

Plan Your Meetings Digital Events are open to both planners and suppliers. For complete details and to register for any of these free virtual experiences, visit the Plan Your Meetings live events page.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Timing tips for effective meeting managers

June 15th, 2020 @

time management

Successful managers develop a knack for knowing the right time for making key decisions, brainstorming and conducting meetings, among many other aspects of meeting management.

When to make a key decision

Psychology professor Timothy Monk, Ph.S, D.Sc., from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, asserts that in the late morning, as your body temperature rises, along with your alertness, your brain is prime to be at its peak in processing information. Likewise, your problem-solving capabilities are enhanced at that time.

As your body temperature continues to rise, your mind is able to stay more alert. In any case, experiment with making key decisions in the late morning. Then, days and weeks later look back, and determine how well you appear to be doing.

When to make a tough decision

This “when to” is answered by offering the opposite: Don’t make a tough decision when you are hungry for food. Researchers say that when you have a difficult decision to make, put off that decision until after you’ve eaten…a great excuse to go to lunch!

Based on a study from the Columbia University Business School, good nutrition supplies the energy you need to stay refreshed and maintain clear thinking. After you’ve had a good breakfast or a decent lunch, you’re likely to be more consistent in your decision-making.

When to brainstorm for new ideas

Because you’re mentally sharp first thing in the morning, it seems like that would be an ideal time to brainstorm. However, a combined study from Albion College and Michigan State University suggests otherwise. If you want to attain fresh perspectives and creative solutions, brainstorming later in the day is likely to yield better results.

The researchers from the two colleges asked students to tackle and resolve six problems, at various hours over the course of a day. Among self-described “morning persons,” surprisingly, the most creative solutions occurred at 6 p.m. In other words, when the students were mentally tired.

The reverse was true among students who regarded themselves as “night owls.” When it came to brainstorming, they generated their most creative ideas in the morning. The takeaway from these findings: For whatever reason, when we are mentally fatigued, we’re better at creative thinking. How can this be? It seems counterintuitive, but the researchers discovered that since creative thinking requires participants to approach problems from different angles, when rested and clearheaded, participants will gravitate to the most logical solutions. Conversely, a fatigued or distracted brain generates more innovative ideas.

The takeaway: When you are rested and clearheaded, focus on tasks that require your deep concentration. When you are mentally fatigued, focus on innovative solutions to challenges you face.

When to start a scheduled internal team meeting

Begin as scheduled, regardless of who is still missing. Independent of your meeting’s length, it is necessary for you, as a meeting arranger or meeting host, to start meetings on time. This demonstrates to the stragglers that they are late and others arrived as scheduled. Organized managers start meetings on time!

Business meeting specialist Robert Levasseur suggests that at the start of any meeting, “Participants reach a common understanding of what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it.” Hence, everyone needs to be present at the start.

When to read the fine print

Unbeknownst to many—except probably eye doctors—vision fluctuates throughout the day and can be somewhat blurry in the early morning. For most people, vision sharpens after a few hours.

Thomas Friberg, chief of retina services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, contends that your vision is most likely to be at its sharpest in the early afternoon. So, when you’ve got a stack of financial reports to wade through, you’re probably better off tackling them at 1 or 2 p.m., as opposed to 9 or 10 p.m.

When to absorb instructions and new information

When you have to absorb new information, give yourself a good chance of doing so: When it’s quiet, you can relax and can devote your attention to the matter at hand.

The following advice goes against what many might advise, but I believe a favorable time for quiet study and reflection is either before or after hours. I’ve witnessed hundreds of work environments, many incorporating cubicle culture, that are too noisy or chaotic to be conducive to learning something new.

RELATED STORY: Productivity tips for the new year

At conferences and conventions where I speak on work-life balance, harmony and integration, I have been approached by countless career professionals who tell me that they need to find refuge to concentrate. Sound familiar?

Rather than seeking to ingest new information during the workday, especially on a topic or area where you might be a newbie, or where you might otherwise be deficient, designate one night a week, perhaps at home, and spend an hour or two in deep concentration. Or, arise super early and concentrate while it’s quiet.

You might need to bone up on software or technology being used at work. You might need to become familiar with a new process. There might be new procedures for something you’ve been doing for years, but you have to handle it now in a different way.

If you have a partner, schedule your study time in advance. If you have young kids, obviously, after they are asleep gives you your safest chance. If you live alone, the hours are up to you. No particular day of the week is better than another but it’s wise to avoid Friday after work.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

A cry for equity to meeting industry leaders

June 9th, 2020 @

I haven’t written a post here in a while as I wanted to wait until I had something important to say. Today is the day.

Protestors across North America and the world are calling out for justice and equity. Police chiefs and country leaders, such as Canada’s Prime Minister, have joined them with supportive words. Some have even taken the knee. From the CEOs of Ben and Jerry’s to Salesforce to Canadian bank executives, there has been a call for racial equity.

The main focus has been to demand equity and fair treatment in policing and the social justice system, but this is just one VERY large and sharp tip of the iceberg. Let’s hope that this rallying cry is not just “the flavor of the month.” It must be followed by real and meaningful change.

Let’s take a hard look at the meeting and event industry. The lack of equity has been glaring. Black and visible minority professionals are missing from:

  • panels
  • podiums
  • leadership positions
  • planning committees
  • breakout sessions facilitation
  • lists of top industry professionals

By contrast, white professionals with less experience have no problem making those lists and receiving accolades. I addressed this glaring omission four years ago in “The Invisible Minorities of the Meeting and Event Industry.” These lists are important because out of sight is out of mind when it’s time to hire speakers, breakout session facilitators and planners.

It’s interesting that when paid engagements are available, black keynote speakers and breakout session facilitators are invisible. When it’s the time to speak for free, suddenly we glow in the dark.

For example, why is it that, despite the fact that I have blogged for major industry portals since 2011 and managed the largest group for event and meeting industry professionals, I am only ever invited to speak for free at industry conferences and events?

This is nothing personal. That is why organizations such as the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, founded in 1983, and recognition ceremonies like Best in Black Awards exist.

As a black facilitator, speaker, and, at times, event planner, the temptation is to remain silent. To speak up means being labeled a troublemaker or an angry black woman and reducing one’s opportunities even further.

No matter what the cost, the time for silence is over for those of us who have been at the receiving end of exclusion.

At this juncture, the worst thing that organizations in our industry could do is issue a call for equity. For the most part, it would be hypocritical, and the words would ring hollow. There are, of course, some exceptions. I started to list a few organizations that have been role models but, if I do, I will leave some of them out.

This is a season to keep mouths closed, listen, learn, reflect and strategize. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau role modeled this a few days ago. He paused and reflected before he spoke. His silence was heard around the world and it added potency to his words.

or

Pause, listen, learn, reflect and strategize in collaboration with black industry professionals, not in a vacuum. These should not be “pick your brain for free” sessions either. Black industry professionals deserve to be compensated properly for any consulting and expertise that they provide.

When mouths are finally opened it should be to apologize and unveil a concrete plan for reparations. Reparations is a heavy word but when individuals have been excluded and their earning potential has been significantly reduced regardless of merit or competence, it’s the appropriate word.

Talk is cheap. Organizations that want to make a meaningful contribution must word their words carefully and then be sure that they are ready to put their money where their mouth is.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Mental health during tumultuous times

June 1st, 2020 @

 

mental health

In times of tumult, it’s easy to get caught up on nearly every major issue making the news. This is an ill-advised practice.

It doesn’t matter on what side of the political spectrum you fall: These days, it’s easy to open a newspaper, surf the web, flip on the TV or tap your smartphone to find news items from around the world that are not to your liking. If this happens to you once a day, consider yourself lucky. For most people, it happens multiple times a day.

All we can do is all we can do. Become the master of your own domain and that will be fine. Open up your intellectual kimono to every issue that comes your way, and you’ll soon feel frustrated and defeated.

Perspective matters

Considering the volume of news and information, that is relevant to us, the chance of ever “staying on top of it” is nil. So, what can each of us do? Can we proceed effectively in our career and in our lives knowing that blizzard of information becomes newly available in the bat of an eyelash? Yes. Understand that everyone is the same boat and the ability to keep up is not some individual or personal failing. Virtually every fully functioning adult faces the same dilemma, continually.

Recognize that we don’t need to pay heed to every little detail that comes down the pike. Viable shortcuts exist. Some come in the way of abstracts and synopses. Some are provided to us by objective editors and writers who have studied an issue and who offer their sustained observations and opinions.

Equanimity matters

Here are four ways to maintain some semblance of equanimity throughout the course of the day, week, month, year and your career, despite the news.

  1. Pick a handful of causes or issues that you choose to follow and/or support. You can’t be on top of everything and can’t give your heart out in all directions. Narrow the field to what really matters to you and then give yourself permission to dive deeply into those issues.
  2. Don’t waste any time sparring online with others or trying to convince anybody else of your viewpoint when it’s clear that they’ve already dug in their heels. It’s fine for people to arrive at consensus, but it’s a mutual process. If one party is too heavily invested in achieving a particular outcome, when the other is not, pretty much nothing is going to happen.
  3. Give yourself a recurring rest from current events. That in turn helps to alleviate some of your stress and anxiety. You’ve likely got decades to go in this life. You don’t want to dissipate too much more of your time on issues upon which you can do nothing. Pick your spots, stay true to your interests, and recognize that it will be all right. You can take time away from the information maelstrom. There is no cosmic scoreboard detailing whether or not you’ve kept pace hour by hour or day by day. You deserve a break today. Give yourself some time without tuning in.
  4. Recognize that breaking news, as well as fads and what is currently trending, has a way of going by the wayside quickly. Rather than get caught up in the minutia of popular culture, focus on long-term trends.
  • Where is humanity heading?
  • What will the health be of the typical adult 10 years from now?
  • What major milestones are likely to be accomplished within the next decade?

By focusing on the long-term, rather than just fads or current events, you give yourself the opportunity to consider the affairs of humanity from a better vantage point.

The time in your life

From a practical standpoint, by focusing on the long-term you also free up the amount of time you have on a given day. Who among us has unlimited amounts of time to be pulled into this story, and that feature and this argument, and so on, ad infinitum?

Our lives are finite whereas the issues to which we could be exposed know no end. It’s time to pay homage to a mere handful of issues that resonate with you and to have the mental and emotional strength to leave the rest.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Give interruptions the brush off

May 12th, 2020 @

This might come as a shock to you, but most of the interruptions you experience in the course of the day are self-induced. How so? Either you invited them and actually encouraged them to happen, or you failed to safeguard your spaces and places so that interruptions became likely.

Invited it to happen?

Anytime you proceed throughout the course of the work day, after work, and on weekends, with your cell phone nearby and the ringer ‘on,’ you are inviting an interruption. It might be one that you desire, such as to know who’s calling you. Still, you are the one who is in control of that immediate environment.

With perhaps 9 out of 10 calls that you receive, it’s not important to field them in real time. If you casually look at your phone, see who has called, and return when you choose to, chances are everything will be fine. The exception occurs when you’re waiting for a specific call and that’s a different case altogether. At such times, by all means, turn up the volume on your ringer.

RELATED STORY: 21 ways to gauge your work-life balance

For most of the rest of the calls you receive throughout the day or week, you don’t need to have your ringer on. ‘Vibrate’ works for some people, but even that can be disruptive. I suggest you put your phone on ‘mute’ so that no sound is made. If you can’t do this during the workday, at least do it after hours, on weekends, or when your time is completely your own. You’ll appreciate the quiet and the uninterrupted stretches of time that you now have to get things done, or to simply relax.

Failing to safeguard your places and spaces

The second variety of interruptions are those that you’ve helped to have happened. This occurs when you do not take precautions when at work, or at home. The classic way to safeguard your space at work is to simply close your office door. If you work at a cubicle, post a sign that says under deadline or can’t be disturbed.

At home or when out and about, safeguard your space by muting your phone, as discussed above. Also, turn away from the main traffic arteries. If you are on a path that everyone takes, then obviously, the interruptions that you incur will be greater than if you were along some less traveled path.

At work, many places offer quiet, uninterrupted stretches – an empty conference room, a rooftop terrace, or a table in the back of the corporate cafeteria, far from all the other tables. When the weather permits, a park bench could work to your advantage. Even sitting in your car, depending on your task, could work well. In other words, you often have options to keep noise and intrusions from invading your space.

RELATED STORY: 5 considerations for online events in 2020

The fast-forward future

As the world turns, particularly during the work day, the volume of interruptions you’re likely to encounter will increase. Knowing that this is likely part of your future, what steps will you take today to minimize the noise to which you are subjected, to safeguard your spaces, and to work where others are not likely to intrude upon you?

The quality of your life and career is defined, in part, by how you limit interruptions. No one is coming to help you with this task; you handle and resolve the issue. You have the capability, fortunately, to take charge and give interruptions to brush off.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Free coronavirus-related webinars (May 2020)

May 4th, 2020 @

woman webinar

To help educate professionals during this unprecedented crisis and to help prepare them for the inevitable recovery, many industry groups are amping up their online offerings and making them freely available, as the MPI Academy has done for much of its content.

Following are some excellent, live online programs throughout May 2020. If you miss the original live broadcast, still click through as you’ll likely be able to view the recording. These are free but require registration.

U.S. Travel launched a new weekly webinar series that looks toward the recovery of our industry and the broader economy, focusing on the guidance, data and traveler sentiment necessary to safely restoring travel and tourism in the U.S.

All of these live webinars take place 12-1 p.m. EST on the dates listed

May 7

“Addressing Uncertainty Through Safety: New Guidance for the Industry”

May 8

Meeting Executive Re-Think Tank on Lessons Learned & Continued Impact

May 13

Avoiding Burnout and Managing Stress

May 14

Reduce Stress from Meeting Planning by Knowing Who to Trust

May 14

Back-to-Normal Barometer

May 21                                        

Accessing Recovery: The Three Legs of Research

May 21

The Work From Home Revolution

May 26

Risk Management Planning

May 27

Leading Your Organization, From Any Level, During a Time of Crisis

May 28

No Time Like the Present …Taking Your Meetings Virtual

And some educational webinars that have already taken place, but are archived and available at no cost:

 

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Category : Blog and Industry News

In need of a distraction

April 15th, 2020 @

cat-straction

Between the non-stop coronavirus updates, inexhaustible news stories and self-isolation at home (with work, kids, home schooling, etc.), it wouldn’t be a surprise if you were in desperate need for a fun, mindless or comic distraction. Your mind and emotional state will thank you for the respite.

If you think some quiet time and mediation would help, there are numerous apps from which to choose. One is Calm, which currently offers a variety of COVID-19 channels. For those with minds that are hard to quiet, Calm might take some practice. For others, it’s a nice option for a bit of peace and quiet. Calm even has a channel for kids—if you’re able to pull them away from Animal Crossing: New Horizons!

Speaking of kids, live feeds from a number of zoos and aquariums can be fun for the entire family or the individual who needs to zone out for a few. Choose from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, the Cincinnati Zoo and the Smithsonian National, for starters. Don’t see one here with lots of activity? Try a Google search and enough options will pop up to give you a new stream to try every day.

Miss visiting museums during the lockdown? Try a virtual tour of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or the Guggenheim in New York. There are many options—start with these 12.

Maybe the sounds of waves are more your cup of tea. Then check out live beach cams, available for live streams of picturesque water from all over the globe. If all you have is a few minutes between conference calls or emails, then try the Moments of Nature, mostly two-minute videos of nothing but, well just nature. If a few minutes simply isn’t enough of a distraction, explore.org offers numerous live streams of animals and scenery.

If your distraction requires more civilization, but just a bit more, try the live streams of trains. It takes some waiting, but the payoff is worth it. And if you can’t wait, then pretend you are the railroad engineer in the cab with this live feed of a locomotive crossing Norway (no, this is not a joke).

A no brainer, of course, is YouTube. So many views to choose from, you may get overwhelmed. From recorded cat videos to live feeds to TV shows and more. Some of it’s free and some of it costs. What’s your sanity worth?

Lastly, if this “new normal” makes you feel as if you’re no longer on planet earth, check out the live feed from the International Space Station. That’ll give you all the distraction you need.

Now that you’ve had a taste of the world outside of your home, maybe focus on no- and low-cost online professional development opportunities!

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Category : Blog and Industry News

5 considerations for online events in 2020

April 13th, 2020 @

virtual handshakeIn 2020, we’ve seen a massive shift in how events are being managed and delivered.

For event managers today, it’s no longer just about providing content such as a series of talks, sessions or seminars, it’s also about the attendee experience.

Event planning technologies have played a crucial role in these developments; tools such as online ticketing, remote registration and real-time interpretation have all added to the overall experience.

The more event managers are able to cater to the needs of attendees and provide them with ways to better engage, the more valuable and memorable the event will be.

And that’s just it. The focus now is on improving attendee engagement. The success of an event isn’t measured just by how many people attend but also whether those people felt involved.

According to our 2020 Event Industry Trends report, of the 106 event managers we surveyed, more than three-quarters (78%) highlighted that attendees expect new ways of interacting with each other and speakers.

But what methods should event managers be considering in 2020?

 1. Chat and connect with attendees and speakers

During the online event, attendees want to be able to communicate with each other, ask questions and engage with speakers. They want to get answers to their questions, actively participate (rather than just listen) and make new connections.

To achieve this, some events set up chat groups via communication applications, such as Slack, or have their own dedicated chat solution. This enables attendees to readily communicate with each other (whether it’s to talk about the event, ask questions or connect) and for event managers and speakers to provide answers or updates in real time.

RELATED STORY: Livestreaming options for meetings

2. Real-time personalization

Not only does real-time chat improve engagement, it also provides event managers with crucial insight; they can see the questions attendees have and how they felt about the event. This information can then be used to personalize aspects of the event (i.e. what updates and content the attendee receives) for attendees.

3. Diversity

According to our research report, almost two-thirds of event managers (64%) agree that events are far more diverse than they were five years ago. More and more people from different backgrounds are coming together to learn, share and collaborate.

And audiences will only continue to diversify—but all too often, events are offered in a single language or fail to consider the audience’s diversity.

But what does this mean for event managers? Diversity and inclusion are necessary, so event managers need to ensure attendees feel included and engaged.

4. Remove language barriers

To increase event attendance and reception, removing barriers to entry is crucial.

When we talk about “barriers to entry,” we don’t mean physical barriers, we mean language options and the diversity of speakers. For example, let’s say the speakers for an event only speak English, but people from Germany, France and Spain want to attend because they believe the content is valuable.

In this instance, the event manager needs to provide real-time translation services so that non-English-speaking attendees can participate, too. If prior to registration potential attendees see that the content will be offered in their native language, they’ll be much more likely to sign up.

That said, many event managers are reluctant to hire interpreters for their events—not because they don’t want to but because of prohibitive costs. According to our report, almost half (46%) stated that their biggest challenge when organizing interpreter services was the cost.

RELATED STORY: Livestreaming checklist

online

5. Expert speaker panel

It’s important to avoid unconscious bias in the speaker selection process. Consider doing it “blind”; this means evaluating speaker proposals without any kind of identifying information attached.

This should lead to speakers being chosen on the merit of their work, rather than their nationality, background, sexual orientation, age or gender, and put a greater emphasis on the quality of content.

Attendees don’t just want to hear from five men of the same nationality, background and age—they want to hear a range of opinions. If attendees see a varied speaker panel, they’ll be more likely to attend. The more diverse the speaker panel, the more experiences and opinions offered.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Social media as a positive platform

March 30th, 2020 @

online options

“Social media is not going away. It is a business tool, it can be an incredible place to find strength but it can be dark. I am organizing a conference on how to handle social media as a positive platform. I can’t wait to share it with you soon.”

That quickly deleted Instagram post by stylist Jessica Mulroney drummed up a flurry of intrigue with online royal watchers in January, theorizing that the note’s removal indicates a surprise appearance by Duchess Meghan Markle. Whether or not the Suits actress signs on to the event as a speaker doesn’t much matter for our purposes, but the overall tale highlights the oftentimes toxic landscape of social media as well as its importance as a business tool.

And now that so many meeting professionals find themselves at home, exercising extreme social distancing, many without active events on which to work, some no longer employed, perhaps obsessively searching for and scanning coronavirus news on Twitter, it’s prime time to focus on your professional education—you can only watch so many hours (or days) of Netflix before that leisure activity becomes a chore.

So here we go again. Decades into social media’s communication takeover, many meeting professionals still need to learn the proper uses of the various social media platforms and hone skills in what author, futurist and artist Howard Rheingold terms “crap detection.”

Even though social media is fluid with new rules, mores, opportunities and threats swirling around seemingly every day, one trend I’ve seen over the past decade is that the best published guidance for effective social media use has remained evergreen. More specifically, the most basic social media communications concepts are just as valid and important to learn now as they were 10 years ago. Sadly, many users continue to dive into social media—and claim fluency in that domain—while ignorant to these essential lessons.

Here are four important elements of social media in which all professionals should be fluent—with links for those seeking a refresher.

Get your facts straight

Fake news—both well-meaning yet erroneous and propagandic in nature—is enjoying a golden age thanks to the easy-to-share nature of social media. Sadly, the art of fact-checking is not receiving the same love. Not only must event professionals be able to communicate with stakeholders clearly and correctly via social media, they must also know how to deal with disinformation online. In Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, Rheingold shares sage wisdom to help readers develop authentic digital literacy and critical thinking skills (“crap detection”), with the hopeful goal/promise similar to that of any good meeting or event: to produce a more thoughtful society. (Those really wanting to get into the weeds of digital communication theory should explore the materials for Rheingold’s past courses at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.)

RELATED STORY: What Meeting Planners Have Learned from a Decade of Social Media

Trolls!

Some of the disinformation encountered online comes from these jerks of chaos. In short, the goal of a troll is to disrupt, distract and cause grief. How you respond/react to trolls can affect the tone and quality of your event. Consider this hypothetical: Your keynote speaker engaged your community via Twitter in advance of your event, seeking to identify their most under-served pain points. A couple of valid responses are posted, then a random user chimes in to denigrate the physical appearance of the speaker…then moves on to abuse the other respondents. The valuable pre-event back-and-forth has been hijacked. Suddenly, there’s a negative taste tied to your event and the quality of community feedback disintegrates, all thanks to an anonymous digital heckler. In general, the best approach to a troll is to block/report the account and do not engage—ignore the petulant child. Hootsuite offers some excellent additional insight on how to deal with trolls.

RELATED STORY: 6 B2B social media marketing tips for eventprofs

eyes online

Where’s the strategy?

You develop strategies for every aspect of your meeting/event, so why don’t you have a social media strategy? This begins with deciding upon a social media policy—guidance (sometimes simple recommendations, sometimes enforceable with penalties) for staff, partners and/or attendees to ensure communication is respectful and on-brand. In “Open Door Policy,” I explored the reasons for and against having a robust social media policy. Although published 10 years ago, the lessons shared in that article are just as important and overlooked by meeting professionals today. (Go here to read an updated version that also provides 0.25 hours of continuing education credits.) Once you’re past the policy question, move on to the nitty gritty of your social media strategy—Hootsuite has a PowerPoint template for that.

RELATED STORY: 10 lessons for creating social media videos

Is this what ROI looks like?

Early discussions about the ROI of social media were a bit ephemeral in nature. How can you quantify the value of your activities on the various platforms? The ah-ha moment for me came with the understanding that you define how to gauge the success of your own social media actions—there’s no singular metric that applies to every organization or event. A valid entry point to this topic is “Untangling the Value of Social Media,” my own initial foray into the social media ROI discussion.

The post Social media as a positive platform appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Social media as a positive platform

March 30th, 2020 @

online options

“Social media is not going away. It is a business tool, it can be an incredible place to find strength but it can be dark. I am organizing a conference on how to handle social media as a positive platform. I can’t wait to share it with you soon.”

That quickly deleted Instagram post by stylist Jessica Mulroney drummed up a flurry of intrigue with online royal watchers in January, theorizing that the note’s removal indicates a surprise appearance by Duchess Meghan Markle. Whether or not the Suits actress signs on to the event as a speaker doesn’t much matter for our purposes, but the overall tale highlights the oftentimes toxic landscape of social media as well as its importance as a business tool.

And now that so many meeting professionals find themselves at home, exercising extreme social distancing, many without active events on which to work, some no longer employed, perhaps obsessively searching for and scanning coronavirus news on Twitter, it’s prime time to focus on your professional education—you can only watch so many hours (or days) of Netflix before that leisure activity becomes a chore.

So here we go again. Decades into social media’s communication takeover, many meeting professionals still need to learn the proper uses of the various social media platforms and hone skills in what author, futurist and artist Howard Rheingold terms “crap detection.”

Even though social media is fluid with new rules, mores, opportunities and threats swirling around seemingly every day, one trend I’ve seen over the past decade is that the best published guidance for effective social media use has remained evergreen. More specifically, the most basic social media communications concepts are just as valid and important to learn now as they were 10 years ago. Sadly, many users continue to dive into social media—and claim fluency in that domain—while ignorant to these essential lessons.

Here are four important elements of social media in which all professionals should be fluent—with links for those seeking a refresher.

Get your facts straight

Fake news—both well-meaning yet erroneous and propagandic in nature—is enjoying a golden age thanks to the easy-to-share nature of social media. Sadly, the art of fact-checking is not receiving the same love. Not only must event professionals be able to communicate with stakeholders clearly and correctly via social media, they must also know how to deal with disinformation online. In Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, Rheingold shares sage wisdom to help readers develop authentic digital literacy and critical thinking skills (“crap detection”), with the hopeful goal/promise similar to that of any good meeting or event: to produce a more thoughtful society. (Those really wanting to get into the weeds of digital communication theory should explore the materials for Rheingold’s past courses at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.)

RELATED STORY: What Meeting Planners Have Learned from a Decade of Social Media

Trolls!

Some of the disinformation encountered online comes from these jerks of chaos. In short, the goal of a troll is to disrupt, distract and cause grief. How you respond/react to trolls can affect the tone and quality of your event. Consider this hypothetical: Your keynote speaker engaged your community via Twitter in advance of your event, seeking to identify their most under-served pain points. A couple of valid responses are posted, then a random user chimes in to denigrate the physical appearance of the speaker…then moves on to abuse the other respondents. The valuable pre-event back-and-forth has been hijacked. Suddenly, there’s a negative taste tied to your event and the quality of community feedback disintegrates, all thanks to an anonymous digital heckler. In general, the best approach to a troll is to block/report the account and do not engage—ignore the petulant child. Hootsuite offers some excellent additional insight on how to deal with trolls.

RELATED STORY: 6 B2B social media marketing tips for eventprofs

eyes online

Where’s the strategy?

You develop strategies for every aspect of your meeting/event, so why don’t you have a social media strategy? This begins with deciding upon a social media policy—guidance (sometimes simple recommendations, sometimes enforceable with penalties) for staff, partners and/or attendees to ensure communication is respectful and on-brand. In “Open Door Policy,” I explored the reasons for and against having a robust social media policy. Although published 10 years ago, the lessons shared in that article are just as important and overlooked by meeting professionals today. (Go here to read an updated version that also provides 0.25 hours of continuing education credits.) Once you’re past the policy question, move on to the nitty gritty of your social media strategy—Hootsuite has a PowerPoint template for that.

RELATED STORY: 10 lessons for creating social media videos

Is this what ROI looks like?

Early discussions about the ROI of social media were a bit ephemeral in nature. How can you quantify the value of your activities on the various platforms? The ah-ha moment for me came with the understanding that you define how to gauge the success of your own social media actions—there’s no singular metric that applies to every organization or event. A valid entry point to this topic is “Untangling the Value of Social Media,” my own initial foray into the social media ROI discussion.

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