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Chapter Conferences

The best practices on hosting a chapter conference.

GREATER ATLANTA CHAPTER: Developing a New Normal for Talent Development Conferences—Going Hybrid With Whova

SUMMARY: The Greater Atlanta Chapter showcased a new way to share expertise and resources by combining in-person and virtual experiences via a low-cost hybrid event platform. Providing a virtual option allowed many people to attend, including individuals living outside Metro Atlanta, and permitted speakers to participate without travel. Conference participants also received a virtual swag bag that included curated YouTube playlists, virtual backgrounds, and a resource guide. Since the conference, the chapter has increased its membership, received positive feedback and publicity from current and potential sponsors and attendees, and gained a new strategic partner. The conference also brought in more than $4,000 in sponsorships, and both participants and partners have already expressed interest in returning for future events.

YEAR: 2022

GREATER ATLANTA CHAPTER: Tips to Quickly Increase Your Conference Registrations

SUMMARY: In August 2022, the Greater Atlanta Chapter hosted its first hybrid conference since the beginning of the pandemic. Three weeks prior to the event, there were only 55 registrants. In the remaining time, the chapter focused on direct marketing efforts via social media and email messaging. Due to their successful marketing campaign, the chapter more than doubled its registration numbers, impressed sponsors with its efforts, and improved financial outcomes.

YEAR: 2022

MADISON AREA: Defeat Zoom Fatigue—Refining Virtual Conferences

The Madison Area Chapter hosted a virtual conference to address its members’ Zoom fatigue by surveying members to see what topics they were interested in learning. Based on member feedback, the chapter developed the conference theme, “Humanizing the Virtual Experience.” The chapter hired a high-energy host to facilitate 30 minutes of games and networking to set the tone at the start of the conference. To make the event unique, the board scheduled three well-known speakers, provided lunch through Grubhub e-gift cards, and ensured all members received a copy of the speaker’s book. The conference had more than 90 registrants for the event, with peak attendance at 75 participants.

YEAR: 2021

GREATER LAS VEGAS: Hosted an Unconference

The Greater Las Vegas Chapter knew its membership wanted additional opportunities to share best practices and network. The board decided to host an “unconference,” an event where the agenda is set but those who attend. The event had three breakout rooms based on the domains of the capability model: Impacting Organizational Impact, Building Personal Capability, and Developing Professional Capability. A board member stayed in each room with questions to help kick things off, but attendees were responsible for leading the conversation. The attendance for the 2020 Unconference doubled from the 2019 Unconference. Along with positive feedback from attendees, the chapter also gained new members from guests attending the event.

YEAR: 2021

HAWKEYE CHAPTER: Virtual Nonprofit Training Day

SUMMARY: The chapter hosted a virtual nonprofit training day so non-for-profit employees and volunteers can attend an accessible and quality training experience. The board and additional chapter volunteers ran the event via Zoom. The day consisted of breakout sessions and a networking opportunity. The president-elect led a committee of volunteers to plan the event, and the vice president of technology provided technical support during the day. The chapter decreased the registration fee per person from $35 in 2019 to $25 in 2020 and hosted 38 attendees.

YEAR: 2021

CAPITAL REGION CHAPTER: Going Virtual – Conferencing in Response to Crises

SUMMARY: The Capital Region Chapter faced an ultimatum earlier in 2020: adapt to a virtual environment or cancel its annual talent development conference. The chapter chose to adapt and hold its annual conference virtually. The team planning the conference was already deep into the planning process and had to adjust its plans to shift to a virtual platform. The two-day conference was done via one Zoom link and had 12 sessions. Having one link for the conference allowed attendees to be flexible with work and home schedules to attend sessions when they were available. The conference content and technology experience had an 87 percent overall satisfaction rate, with an average of 30 attendees per session. The chapter had a 100 percent interest from participants to attend the conference again next year.

YEAR: 2020

GREATER ATLANTA CHAPTER: Strengthen Your Annual Conference to Build Your Chapter

SUMMARY: The Greater Atlanta Chapter created a streamlined effort to put on its annual conference, Atlanta Conference and Expo (ACE). The chapter created a director position to oversee a whole team dedicated to planning and executing the conference. To ensure the conference continues to grow, the board created a leader and apprentice model. The director-elect shadows and assists the director for one year to step into the director role the following year. Having an entire team dedicated to the conference allowed the chapter to expand the conference schedule to attract the broader talent development community. Due to the streamlined effort and volunteer structure, ACE registration increased from 191 in 2018 to 259 in 2019.

YEAR: 2020

GREATER RICHMOND CHAPTER: Inaugural Regional Conference

SUMMARY: After conducting a needs assessment, the Greater Richmond Chapter decided to organize a regional conference to support local talent development practitioners. The one-day conference featured two keynotes and 12 breakout sessions that were aligned with four distinct tracks: e-learning, integrated talent development, leadership, and coaching. The chapter partnered with local chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the International Coach Federation (ICF) to welcome 65 attendees and 10 vendors. Following the conference, chapter membership increased by almost 57 percent, joint membership grew to 52 percent, and social media interactions went up by 150 percent.

YEAR: 2019

CENTRAL OHIO CHAPTER: Annual Conference SOP and Checklist

SUMMARY: The chapter established standard operating procedures (SOP) to improve the experiences of those planning and attending the conference. In addition to the detailed SOP, the planning committee carefully vetted presenters, provided presentation materials to attendees to further support their learning, and utilized an event app to improve the attendee experience. The chapter also developed a logistics checklist to keep volunteers engaged and on track with various tasks. As a result of these efforts, the chapter’s conference generated over $12,000 in revenue, attendance increased by 7 percent, and 95 percent of those who completed the evaluation rated the conference as “good” or “excellent.”

YEAR: 2019

KANSAS CITY CHAPTER: Gamification of Fall Conference

SUMMARY: The chapter identified a theme for its fall conference that would help engage attendees with sponsors and encourage them to remain present until the end of the day. The conference was centered around the game of “Clue,” and at the beginning of the day attendees were provided with instructions on how to participate. Attendees were given a case folder with each speaker’s information. In keeping with the theme, each speaker had a clue card, which was given to participants for attending the session. Additionally, each sponsor table had a weapon card for participants to collect. During the sessions, if someone asked insightful questions or shared their thoughts with the group, volunteers would then give them room cards. To win prizes at the end of the day, attendees were given a mystery to solve. If they were holding the correct cards, they won a door prize. The chapter received great feedback on conference evaluat
ions, increased sponsor interaction and satisfaction, and had fun while doing it.

YEAR: 2018

GREATER PHILADELPHIA CHAPTER: Reimagined Chapter Conference

SUMMARY: At the beginning of 2017, the chapter created a "Total Member Value" initiative to connect everything the chapter does back to the value provided to members. This initiative drove all aspects of the chapter including the conference, where the goal was to build an experience for each group the chapter serves: internal practitioners, 1099 individual practitioners, and sponsors. The chapter identified Drexel University to be a cosponsor, who would provide the space for free and would co-market the event. The chapter offered continuing education credits, which allowed them to cross market with SHRM, adding even more value. The conference experience extended past the one-day event. Sponsors were given the opportunity to sponsor a lunch-and-learn event in later months, and conference attendees could attend those future events. Overall, the conference sold out available sponsorships and received very high marks from participants and members.

YEAR: 2017


SUMMARY: The Central Oklahoma and Tulsa chapters have created a partnership to hold a yearly state conference and alternate which chapter hosts the event. The Central Oklahoma Vice President and Past President gathered the conference knowledge, information, and tasks after hosting the conference to document and share with future conference planning teams. The idea is that the knowledge management for the conference will continue to improve this annual offering for the professionals in the area and will save an average of 120 hours in conference planning. The document extensively outlines all planning process steps. This will allow the team to continue to add value to the conference and grow the event’s reach in the community.

YEAR: 2017

SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA CHAPTER: Annual Chapter Conference: Transforming Talent Development

SUMMARY: The chapter created an annual conference to provide talent development professionals with an opportunity to experience a smaller version of ATD’s International Conference & Exposition. Talent development professionals from the local area had the opportunity to learn, transform, engage, and experience training transformation. Additionally, the chapter secured two sponsorships, lowered the cost per attendee to $5.25, and increased revenue from $750 in 2015 to $1,090 in 2016.

YEAR: 2017

UTAH CHAPTER: Getting Great Presenters for your Regional Conference

SUMMARY: The chapter found a way to recruit recognizable speakers for free using two options. First, an electronic billboard advertising the conference with the two keynote speakers prominently featured. Second, the chapter’s annual "ATD Utah Thought Leader" award. Stephen MR Covey and Alan Fine, the two keynote speakers drew record breaking attendance to the one-day, state wide conference. Because of the record attendance (with over 40% non-member attendance), 28 new members joined the chapter at the membership table located in the exposition area.

YEAR: 2015

SOUTH CAROLINA MIDLANDS CHAPTER: ATD South Carolina Midlands Partnership with the Disney Institute

SUMMARY: The chapter partnered with Disney Institute to bring the program “Disney’s Approach to Selection, Training & Engagement” to the training and development professionals in the area. The Disney Institute provided participants with tips and insights, which could be used to build and sustain the participants’ organizational cultures regarding training and organizational development. This successful event drew 145 attendees and the chapter earned several thousand dollars in profits.

YEAR: 2015

NEW ENGLAND AREA CHAPTERS: Successful Multi-Chapter Conferences

SUMMARY: For the past three years, eight local New England chapters have joined together to plan and implement a major New England area conference. The event supports the ATD brand across the region, increases local chapter membership, encourages networking, includes best-practice presenters, and enables and, in fact, drives cross-chapter collaboration and volunteerism. Best of all, it is exceptionally profitable, bringing thousands of dollars of revenue to each chapter -- allowing them to fund things like ALC attendance.

YEAR: 2014

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