Readers' Comments

Readers share their views on recent Associations Now articles.

We're grateful to our readers for sharing their praise and criticism with us each month. Here's a sampling of what we've heard recently.

Additional Speaker Advice

In the February edition, there was an interesting article titled "What a Speaker Wants." It reminded me of what we do when we prepare a speaker before our annual meeting. (This idea came from Anne L. Bryant, CAE, who uses it with National School Boards Association speakers.)

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Included in the contract with our major speakers is the requirement that the speaker spend a half hour on the phone with our executive director prior to the event.

Some may say that speaking with me for a half hour is an unfair penalty for anyone to pay, but it has helped strengthen presentations in front of our membership.
This is in addition to the time our Director for Professional Development, Lisa Steimer, CAE, spends talking about the logistics, room setup, need for a podium, microphones, et cetera.

We cover issues such as:

  • Who our members are and the number to be expected at the presentation;
  • That school-board members in Connecticut run on party lines and that they do have party allegiances, even though board members are encouraged to drop their political affiliations at the door when at board meetings;
  • That our members are elected and come from all walks of life—with different skills, life experiences, and understanding of educational issues;
  • A little about the roles and responsibilities of board members;
  • What issues the speaker might want to concentrate on, depending on the speaker's expertise and what our members will want to hear about;
  • That we enjoy humor, but that no inappropriate remarks (such as sexual, religious, racial, et cetera) are appropriate, whether as an attempt at a joke or a comment. While we would hope this is unnecessary to say, it sets out a clear expectation;
  • That we appreciate their leaving time for questions if the schedule calls for it.

This half hour has not only helped speakers prepare but has helped us develop a relationship with our speakers that pays dividends when they show up. It makes for a better presentation and a much more enjoyable and beneficial experience for our members and for staff.

Robert Rader, CAE, executive director, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, Glastonbury, Connecticut

Missing: The CEO

From the Twitterati
@nonprofitchick RT @asaecenter Marketing: Best list practices - Associations Now Magazine [July 2007]
@KyleSexton RT @asaecenter Necessary Membership - Associations Now Magazine [March 2009]
@davidbledsoe_pr RT @asaecenter Five Ways Associations Can Use Online Games - Associations Now Magazine [February 2010]
@MemberClicks A year of failure ends in success for one small-staff association ["A Year of Failure Ends in Success," February 2010]
@mcnulty6 Just read "managing tips from the managed" by @maggielmcg on the flight. Well done! & another gr8 issue from @asaecenter
@nolanj1 Are you perpetuating common practices, rather than best practices? Good food for thought - William Burns, CAE in Associations Now ["Best Practices or Common Practices," February 2010]
@JPotestivo RT @asaecenter How Are Your Ethics? - Associations Now Magazine [February 2009]

[From web comments on "Proceed With Caution," February 2010] Where is the CEO? Why is that person always missing in these [fictional case study] scenarios?

The CEO should make sure everything and everybody is working properly. The CEO should run political interference so the staff can do its job and not have to deal with internal political problems.

David M. Patt, CAE, executive director, Association of Running Event Directors, Skokie, Illinois

A Perception Issue

I recently found your article "Technology, Meet Mission" [January 2010] and wanted to pass along my thanks.

Your article was insightful and included good suggestions on how turn around the perception of IT as a "necessary evil." I believe changing the accounting rules so that IT is not a cost center may be difficult; however, changing the perception of IT is possible and critical if organizations want to be successful in today's connected world.

Kevin Johnson, senior programmer/analyst, ACA International, Minneapolis, Minnesota