Food For Thought

by Abigail Solazzo

As we approach the middle of summer, many of our chapter leaders have already turned their thoughts to fall meetings. Unforeseen circumstances presented challenges for our chapter spring meetings, and we may face those same challenges in the fall. Depending on your state and/or facility’s recommendations for travel and/or gatherings of large groups, an in-person meeting may not be feasible. If your chapter decides to forego the in-person meeting, keep some ‘do’s and don’ts’ in mind when developing the meeting or sessions to present virtually.

DO Start with Learning Objectives – Similar to any face to face course or session, virtual sessions should also include objectives, and attendees should still be able to walk away with takeaways. For more information on how to write objectives, please refer ‘How to Create Learning Objectives’ in the Prior Approvals Toolkit on ANFPConnect.

DON’T Try to Re-Create a Live Event on a Virtual Platform – Trying to give your attendees the exact same experience as an in-person meeting is not feasible. Sitting in front of a screen watching a slideshow or a ‘talking head’ is far less engaging than being in a room with other attendees and a live speaker. Keep this in mind as you develop your agenda and consider a shorter program broken up over several days or even weeks.

DO Plan for Interactive Activities - Maintaining engagement during a virtual session can be difficult. Often, attendees have many behind-the-scenes distractions that compete for their full attention. To make the session more engaging, consider implementing polls, asking for feedback via the chat function (depending on the platform), Q&A sessions, trivia, or bingo (related to the learning objectives) through the session.

DON’T Use a Platform You are Unfamiliar With – For many of us, we have been forced to learn new technology that includes video/audio features. Whether it was for meetings, trainings, or even seeing the faces of our loved ones, we have likely had to learn to use a platform such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, etc. When it comes to your virtual events, go with what you know. Take the time to become more familiar with all the features available of the preferred platform and ensure your speakers feel comfortable with the technology as well.

DO Assign Volunteers to Help Facilitate the Session – While you may have one or two chapter leaders responsible for developing the program, there are many facets of a virtual session that require support and attention. Consider having one volunteer dedicated to monitoring the questions that come through on chat, dedicate another volunteer for troubleshooting for attendees that have difficulty with the technology, and designate someone as the virtual emcee/host.