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Everything according to plan: success with faculty.

For successful presentations, free of surprise costs and disappointed attendees, you must fully prepare program speakers. Key is a comprehensive faculty orientation guide.

It's time to put together your next educational program, and you're off to a great start. You already identified the right speakers, and doing so was easy. She is the recognized expert on the topic. He wrote the definitive book. She is politically correct. He is geographically desirable. Both called offering their services.

Or perhaps, easier yet, a committee provided you with the slate of speakers. The committee even made the initial contacts; all speakers are available and at the right price.

Now the nervous tension begins. You had these great beginnings before, but somehow something always wrecked the perfect ending. You think back with angst on previous programs. One presenter read her paper. Another did not provide handouts. Another had an average of 27 words per overhead transparency. Then there was the speaker who neglected to repeat the questions from the audience; half of the attendees could not hear the questions--and you audiotape of the session was ruined.

Think of a few more less-than-fond memories.... How about the faculty member who decided not to show up and, without letting you know in advance, sent an "associate" in his place? Don't forget about the consultant who solicited business from the podium. And my personal favorite (in retrospect): the senator who spent 40 minutes lecturing senior-level health care finance executives about the importance of a clean water supply.

Next you reflect back on the expense reports. There were first-class airfares, rented cars, mini-bars, and in-room movies. In addition there were two-night hotel stays for 90-minute presentations and abusive use of express mail delivery for handout materials. Of course, you can't erase from your mind (or your budget) the $800 bill to prepare four-color slides.

Does any of this sound familiar? Unfortunately, it probably does. If you are even remotely involved in the continuing education aspect of your association (and who isn't?), chances are you have experienced some of these scenarios and many others. And now you have decided enough is enough. Your past experiences have motivated you to improve your program results in the name of TQM (total quality management)--and POM (peace of mind).

Strive to exceed expectations

Your road to improved results with educational programs is marked by total quality management. The expectation on the part of program attendees is that all speakers will be content experts. However, total quality management is about exceeding expectations, and doing so for all your customers--those who pay, and those who give the presentations others pay to hear. By exceeding expectations you help to ensure a successful program and the likelihood of repeat business. Since studies show that it is six times easier to retain a customer who has had a positive experience than it is to recruit a new one, how can we afford not to deliver?

Exceeding expectations is largely a matter of planning and preparation--planning of every detail and preparation that's complete. This TQM practice facilitates the production of high-quality--high-yield programs with a minimum of confusion, complications, and awkward situations. It reduces the number of "heartburn moments" those of us in the business have come to know all too well.

With your educational presentations, as in all types of performances, when the curtain goes up, the lights go down, and the slide or overhead projector goes on, it is the quality of your performers that will determine the value of the learning experience. Staff are responsible for filling up the seats and for the "seat comfort" of the program attendees. But we entrust the education process to faculty we may never have met, speaking on topics we may know little about. This scenario gives even the most seasoned of association executives opening night jitters. But with proper planning and preparation, we can do our work with less anxiety, more enjoyment, and greater overall success.

Your interaction with speakers

Success with speakers is dependent on effective communication throughout the program planning process. The way in which you interact with faculty has a powerful impact on the quality of their presentations.

Common practices with faculty result in tremendous unnecessary costs and headaches. Typically, faculty are invited via telephone, letter, or an intermediary to give presentations. They are then confirmed with the familiar "thank you in advance" letter in which we express our appreciation on behalf of the association for their anticipated contribution to the continuing education of our members. Along with the obligatory dates, times, and location, we make some time-sensitive requests....

"... Please complete the enclosed form and return it as soon as possible, indicating your session title as well as a brief description of your session. Also attach a photo that can be used in our promotional campaign and a biographical statement that can be used on site by the moderator or presiding officer. On the enclosed blue form please list any audiovisual needs you might have.

"We anticipate this program filling up quickly, so we encourage you to make your hotel reservations early. Once again, thank you for agreeing to be a part of this important educational program. Do not hesitate to call with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in October and to a great program.... P.S.: Enclosed is an expense report form. Please complete and return the form within 30 days of the conclusion of the program."

With this all-too-common cookie-cutter type of communication with our speakers, is it any wonder we find ourselves in the midst of the foul-ups mentioned earlier? Moreover, the opportunity costs to the association are substantial.

Standard operating procedures must be tailored to the speaker, expanded on, and fully explained in advance. They must also be tailored to the educational product line. The additional work entailed in this more extensive preparation is well worth it in the end.

In preparing speakers for an educational program, it's essential that you discuss their knowledge of adult learning. Don't assume anyone is a student of learning theory. For example, does the speaker understand that learning is not one process but can be categorized into domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor), depending on what is to be learned? You may have to help speakers prepare for your audience.

Handled tactfully, this discussion should not pose a problem. Faculty want to perform well, and we certainly have an investment in their doing so.

Program planning usually begins with the premise that the faculty are technically competent, but what about their expertise in educating? Do they know anything of the theory and practice of adult education, in contrast to the education of children? Are the faculty familiar with the broad range of teaching techniques that can be employed based on the instructional objectives? Do we assume faculty know, or do we make recommendations about, the type of classroom setup that is preferable based on the projected number of attendees, the instructional objectives, and the classroom techniques to be used? Can we assume faculty know about, or should they be provided guidance in, selecting and effectively using audiovisual aids? In short, do we need to provide speakers with the necessary tips and tools for effective presentations?

Our voluntary technical experts usually need more attention. Most of us have learned the hard way that these experts can be far from polished platform speakers. At the same time, we know that delivery significantly impacts on learning and on perception of competency and value. Our job, therefore, is to assist our faculty with their ability to present effectively.

Faculty orientation (survival) guide

Critical to faculty preparation is an extensive orientation guide. This true survival kit contains all the information your speakers need to work with your association.

A faculty orientation guide, or FOG, includes needs assessment information with demographics about who will be in the target audience, what they know, and what their expectations are. It must include information (sorely needed by the aforementioned off-target senator) about the role and function of the association and the composition of the membership.

From a logistical perspective, faculty must be instructed in the guide about all association policies and procedures pertaining to educational programs. Do you really have a right to deny reimbursement for elaborate folders for handouts when you neglected to tell faculty in advance that you only reimburse $2 per handout if they make their own copies? Faculty also need to be aware of what assistance you will provide before, during, and after their presentations. Will you make hotel reservations or slides? Will you provide a speaker-ready room on site? Will someone introduce the speakers, hand out the materials, flip on the projector, flip off the lights, and collect the evaluations? After their presentation, what qualitative and quantitative feedback can they expect and how quickly? How soon can the speaker expect to be reimbursed?

There are many levels on which we can interact with faculty. It has been my experience that faculty (particularly volunteer faculty) appreciate our functioning as a resource and a reductionist, rather than just an order-filler. By this I mean giving them as comprehensive a guide as possible, and organizing the information in a user-friendly fashion so they can access it as needed. The Type-A person may well read the guide cover to cover, correcting for typographical errors along the way, while the Type-B person may only glance at the expense reimbursement policy. The repeat speaker will likely skip the information about the association, while the first-timer may find such perspectives particularly valuable. Any faculty orientation guide must cover all these needs and more and must present information in a clear manner.

The guide is essentially a self-help manual for speakers and staff alike. It can take many shapes and serve many purposes. For example, the range of information and level of detail you might provide concurrent speakers at your annual meeting probably will differ from what you would provide the faculty members who are going to be teaching your recurring multiday seminars. For this reason, you might consider a loose-leaf binder or some other folder that lets you make the guide as expansive or limited as appropriate. If you are not reimbursing your concurrent speakers, it is unnecessary--and awkward--to include your faculty reimbursement guidelines. One simple approach is to have several versions of the orientation guide. One version can be reserved for long-term "permanent" faculty and one for short-term "adjunct" faculty. I like to have one version for each education product line. Regardless of how you organize different versions of the guide, the vast majority of the contents will likely be the same in all editions.

The purpose of the guide is not only to get full value from your speakers (and to assist your speakers in getting full value from the experience) but also to present the conditions of affiliation. As such, each guide must contain selected policies and procedures and set expectations, often along a tight time schedule. I recommend that you send the guide, containing an acknowledgment of receipt, along with your memorandum of agreement. Both signed documents can then be returned together.

The design I prefer for the guide has three main sections and can include a series of appendixes. These three sections relate to the major components of any event: before, during, and after.

Section 1: Before the event

Section 1 of the guide is your opportunity to launch your relationship with a faculty member in the right direction. Following are before-the-event elements to include:

* Welcome letter.

* Association information: mission, membership, voluntary leaders, programs, products, and services.

* Forms to be completed by speakers: travel, hotel, audiovisual, audiotaping release, biographical, and any others needed to fulfill your association and program needs.

* Reimbursement guidelines.

* Relevant association policies and procedures. Anything from smoking to selling should be clearly laid out here along with other expectations, including timetables. One approach is to produce a summary sheet at the end of this section listing the responsibilities of each party and the time frame for completion.

* For programs that have been offered before, a copy of the former program along with a registration list. This is always appreciated.

* Evaluation form. Speakers appreciate knowing in advance the manner in which they will be judged by program participants.

* Request for suggested participants. Since faculty can be an effective part of your sales force, you may wish to include a form in the guide that solicits recommendations for external mailing lists or other niche marketing ideas. At the same time, faculty should be encouraged to distribute copies of the program brochure to people who might be interested in attending.

* Listing of association staff to contact for various purposes before, during, and after the program.

Section 2: During the event

Now it's time to focus on the heart of the matter: performance. A familiar axiom comes to mind:

"The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you're born and never stops until you get up to speak in public."--Anonymous

To ensure smooth performances by your speakers, tell them what they can expect on site, particularly by way of assistance. In addition, provide them with tips on preparation and with proven presentation techniques.

For example, familiarize your faculty with the broad range of teaching techniques that can be employed based on the instructional objectives. Do faculty know only of the hammer, and, thus, does everything look like a nail? Have the faculty identified the knowledge, attitudes and values, and development of manipulative skills they expect participants to be able to exhibit as a result of course attendance? Have these learning objectives been provided to the appropriate association staff so that the objectives can be highlighted in the promotional copy for the program?

The second section of the guide can take many forms. Following are two sample outlines:

Sample A

* Principles for presenters

* Preparing the message

* Optimizing effectiveness

* Overcoming anxiety

* Fielding questions and comments

Sample B

* Setting the scene

* Getting acquainted

* Involving learners in planning

* Involving learners in learning

* Using audiovisual aids

* Planning

* Communicating

Regardless of the model you elect, you likely will want to cover the issues of teaching adults, presentation skills, instructional objectives, and visual aids.

If Section 2 is lengthy, you may wish to end with a one-minute guide to effective presentations. For me, that includes reminding faculty to follow this training standard:

1. Begin the presentation by telling the audience what you are going to teach them.

2. Teach them.

3. Then tell the audience what you taught them.

I also point out that involving the group in the learning process positively affects retention and that adults enjoy interaction during learning.

As important as guidance in the second section can be, it is perhaps equally essential that you emphasize the value your association places on quality education. At the same time, communicate your appreciation of faculty's role in the delivery of the desired outcome.

Section 3: After the event

Section 3 of the guide often contains the following:

* policies and procedures for reimbursement, plus one or two reimbursement forms;

* policies and procedures for sharing evaluation data, plus a special evaluation form that allows faculty to rate and comment on their experience as customers in the process; and

* a segment outlining additional opportunities to contribute to the association.

The main point of Section 3 is to bring closure to the event and fulfill all commitments that have been made to and by the faculty.


In the appendixes, you can place sample materials from last year's program or accumulate all speaker forms if you prefer not to keep them in the previous sections. You may also wish to provide samples of learning objectives or samples of benefits-oriented promotional copy to assist your faculty in TABULAR DATA OMITTED describing their sessions.

While the form and substance of a faculty orientation guide may vary, its very existence serves many important functions for you and your faculty. It requires you to identify what is important to the success of the program and commits you to following that protocol. It formally establishes the expectations set forth for faculty and staff. In doing so it raises the level of importance of the entire enterprise and lowers the exposure of the association. It is as if you presented each faculty member with a bumper sticker from your association that reads "Quality Education Starts Here."

This manual is at once your guidepost and council. It is a resource to your faculty and a modus operandi for both of you.

The faculty orientation guide reflects total quality management. It is a systems approach to managing the performance element of the high-quality--high-yield model. The guide also is a way to exceed expectations on the part of everyone involved in the educational program and, by doing so, ensure the peace of mind you seek.


* Improving Performance: A Resource Guide for Association Educators, by David A. Shore. This guide assists association executives with adult and continuing education performance issues. It provides information about U.S. and foreign associations involved in adult and continuing education and about publications dedicated to performance issues.

The resource guide includes information on academic and extended continuing education opportunities. It also includes abstracts on recent books dedicated to instructor excellence. Copies are $14.95. For more information, contact David A. Shore at the office of continuing education, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115-9957; (617) 432-1171.

To order copies of the following ASAE resources, call (202) 626-2748, or fax your request to (202) 408-9634. Refer to the catalog number when you order.

* Finding and Working With the Right Speaker. This background kit from Information Central at ASAE is a compilation of articles and samples from ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT, Professional Speaker, and ASAE resource files. The material focuses on finding, managing, and evaluating speakers. Also included are sample forms such as contracts, letters of agreement, biographic information forms, speaker guidelines, and a bibliography of other sources. Published in 1993 by ASAE. Copies are $22 for ASAE members and $44 for nonmembers. Catalog #121008.

* A Decade of Expertise & Experience in Education is a collection of ASAE Management Conference proceedings from 1983 to 1992. The following proceedings address the topic of working with speakers: "Making Technical Presenters Successful Presenters" (1992); "Producing Top-Quality Seminars: Proven Methods for Selecting and Managing Speakers" (1991); "Selecting Speakers: How to Get the Greatest Value from Your Investment" (1986); and "How to Negotiate With and Book Professional Speakers" (1984). Published by ASAE in 1993. Copies are $78.95 for ASAE members and $95 for nonmembers. Catalog #219904.

* The Comprehensive Guide to Successful Conferences and Meetings, by Leonard Nadler and Zeace Nadler. The chapter on presenters and speakers includes practical information on planning to work with these professionals; extensive checklists and a sample request for proposal are included. Published by Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, in 1987; now distributed by ASAE. Copies are $44 for ASAE members and $52.80 for nonmembers. Catalog #210316.

From the Part-Time Faculty's Perspective

Robert S. Bonney, executive vice president, Research Medical Center, Kansas City, Missouri, serves as a part-time faculty member. Here's what he considers particularly important in attracting and keeping part-time faculty who are also practitioners in the field.

* Ensure that the faculty member has a room at the hotel where the conference is being conducted. Also make sure that the reservation is made by the association and confirmed for late arrival.

* Ensure that materials are on hand with appropriate copies for all of the participants.

* Ensure that the room is set up to meet the specifications agreed to with the faculty member.

* Ensure sufficient lead time to schedule conferences to coordinate with the part-time faculty member's work schedule.

* Effectively market the program to ensure sufficient attendance at the conference.

* Offer financial incentives for the faculty member who consistently achieves minimum attendance and quality standards.

* Deliver prompt feedback on evaluations submitted by participants, and react promptly to comments by the association.

* Be willing to try new formats for programs--for example, modified schedules at attractive locations for participants and faculty.

David A. Shore is director, office of continuing education, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. He formerly was director of professional development at the Healthcare Financial Management Association, Westchester, Illinois. Shore serves on ASAE's Education Section Council.
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Title Annotation:includes related articles; planning educational resource programs
Author:Shore, David A.
Publication:Association Management
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Managing your reserve fund.
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