This was originally published by Guy Wallace in the ISPI Chapters Coalition, a WordPress site that is no longer available. Thanks to Guy Wallace for his thoughts on programming and dedication to chapters. Gary DePaul updated this blog for PerformanceXpress.

By Guy Wallace

Programming is probably why anyone would want to join your chapter. To attract and retain members, programming needs to be high quality and applicable for chapter members. Here are some thoughts about chapter programming that you might consider.

Program Frequency
Chapters need to determine the right frequency that is appropriate for attendance and manageable by the chapter’s board.

  • Should you do 10 or 12 programs per year? Only 4? Or 6?
  • What day of the month should you schedule programs?
  • What about the time of the day? Some chapters have evening programs, and others have lunch or breakfast events.

In-Person or Virtual
Face-to-face meetings are typical and traditional, but virtual meetings through webinars are growing as another alternative. Even traditional face-to-face chapters have leveraged virtual programs. Some online vendors may be able to offer low-cost platforms with limited seating. This might meet a small chapter’s needs. Some chapters may be able to find local sponsors that can lend their capability.

For face-to-face meetings, selecting meeting sites can be challenging, especially in large metropolitan areas. Some chapters select a central location (such as a university), and others rotate locations.

Should workshops be two-day events, full day, or half day? At least two chapters that I know have a one-day workshop that follows a regularly scheduled evening event. The facilitator presents at the evening event, followed by the workshop on the next day. Those who cannot attend the workshop would at least be able to attend the regular event. Sometimes after seeing the evening event, attendees want more and register for the workshop.

National Speakers
Chapters often recruit speakers who are nationally well known and who present evidence-based practices in terms of knowledge and skills-building opportunities. The challenge is that national speakers can be expensive. Fortunately, some national ISPI speakers only ask chapters to reimburse for travel expenses.

Programming Tip
Try to publish the entire year’s worth of programming before that year begins. Members and prospective members appreciate this. Some people budget for professional development. Knowing the chapter’s programming would help them with their budgeting.

Alternative Programs
Consider meetings conducted as book clubs using human performance technology (HPT) books, articles, podcasts, or even videos for discussions. You could schedule an audio or video conference with an author to ask questions about the published work.

Your group could get together to work on applying HPT for a community service effort! If you do a project, be sure to debrief as you go. As Thiagi says: “All the learning happens in the debriefing!”

Resources for Chapter Programming