If you are in the meetings industry, you know that for the most part your efforts to educate your members have revolved around the production of an annual meeting. You and your staff spend the whole year putting together an annual meeting program and you invite dozens of speakers to present the latest in your industry’s field. For many organizations, once the meeting is over, the education is lost and the non-attending members never experience the value that was created.
I have firsthand experience with this as I have worked at over 500 annual conferences and have over 30 years’ experience in capturing the education from these conferences. For the most part, associations have not needed to think beyond their annual meeting to keep their members engaged, but that is all changing.
In the early days, just capturing the education and providing any means of accessing it after the fact was an achievement. As these capturing techniques got better and the formats moved from audio based products, i.e. cassettes and audio CDs, to multimedia formats, such as video, the value of the educational experience became greater and greater. Thus the explosion of YouTube and the educational video market.
But offering just video wasn’t the end of the format transformation. In 2009, we were asked to re-broadcast some sessions through our Live Player for members who missed the meeting because of a snow storm
The live engagement along with the ability to respond to polls and share resources enhanced the on-demand experience exponentially. No longer were the survey comments based around the content, but they revolved around the user’s experience. “This was a great online experience” became the usual comment from the end user. The results were amazing.
Thus began a complete shift in an association’s ability to re-purpose their conference education to a much wider audience and start to reach out to the world community as a whole, while extending the annual meeting to a 365 opportunity.
Today, these end users are starving for not only the content that you can offer, but also for the experience of networking and engaging with others while they consume this content.
With the advancements in high speed bandwidth and robust content delivery platforms, your organization can and should be delivering an ongoing stream of content, monthly at least and weekly at best, that will satisfy those professionals looking to consume more and advance their professional careers throughout the entire year.
“Session rebroadcasts have been a successful tool for engaging members and the broader international community,” says Eileen Kiley of the Material Research Society. Session rebroadcasts have become a very successful way of repurposing your annual meeting content, providing a simple yet effective use of this content all year long.
The annual meeting “feed them once a year” mentality is dead and associations need to feed their community in an ongoing basis or risk becoming obsolete.