VIrtual Event Lessons: The New Normal for Community Association Education

Reaching out in the time of a Pandemic. How to keep HOAs and Condos informed using virtual events

The human tragedy of the Covid-19 Pandemic cannot be overemphasized and will be remembered for generations to come. The economic implications have been harsh, and it will take some people and businesses years to recover.  We hear a lot about the first responders, medical professionals, and essential workers, and they are to be heralded as the heroes that they are. They will not be forgotten and deserve all the praise that is heaped upon them. One classification of essential workers that are often overlooked are the managers and their crews who keep our HOAs and Condos running. You cannot quarantine in place if your housing is not being adequately cared for.

During “normal times” community association managers are learning and training to keep up with new technology, new laws, changes in regulations, and a myriad of other information critical to the industry. Changes that affect the lives of the owners and residents in community associations nationwide. Usually, this is done by way of educational opportunities that can be obtained by attending classes at trade shows or various “lunch and learn” events sponsored by association vendors. In the pandemic, it’s all gone virtual.

Virtual Events, the New Normal for Community Association Education

The Covid-19 epidemic has changed the way we eat our meals, socialize, walk, talk, dress, learn, and receive vital information for the businesses that we run. Many entities in the community association industry have taken to webinars and social media to continue to convey important information to community association board members, managers, and even owners. The most important information is advice from professionals on how to deal with hygiene and regulations during this crisis. Nevertheless, community associations are businesses and other lessons need to be taught during these times to deal with the financial and business side of governing a community association.

Life goes on and the business of running community associations requires that all those involved in the governance stay informed. Webinars have been helpful, and the information has flowed into our home offices, but we can do better. A webinar is more than a TV show. For the information that is being conveyed to be best utilized, there must be a follow-up. After a webinar is completed viewers should be given an opportunity to follow up with questions and materials that need to be distributed to the viewers. If not, all you may have done is just produce or watched an infomercial (depending on if you were broadcasting or viewing).

Lessons We Have Learned From Virtual Events

Axela Technologies has produced quite a few webinars and have participated in many online trade events. We find that the webinars that are most compelling will have at least two or three other professionals from related businesses join in on the webinar. Of course, the experts must be speaking to the same subject the webinar advertised. This gives a more rich and varied learning experience to the viewer and enhances interest and attention.

We have also learned from our experience that when a webinar is over the work first begins. Best practices in this new field of keeping managers and board members informed is the converting of the PowerPoint presentations into pdf formats and sending them to the viewers for them to review and share with their colleagues.

For all future webinars that Axela will be hosting “round table” events (limit of 20-25 people per event) will be offered. We will do a webinar and then a follow up of four smaller virtual events (speaking to the subject matter of the webinar) so that a value exchange can be established, and questions asked. A webinar is much better when it generates questions that will be answered. The job is not done until all the questions have been asked and answered. (Stay tuned for Axela’s next webinar to be announced very soon featuring some of the most informed experts in the community association field.)

How Virtual Events Can Help Your Clients (and you in the process)

But virtual events aren’t just for management company employees. Your management company can incorporate virtual events into your business to help your clients. This can cover such things as board member training, Q&A forums, board meetings, annual general meetings, and even social events. The key to success for these events is to have a clear goal for the event and to follow a plan to achieve that goal.

One event type that we have seen to be successful is Board Member Training. In some states, board training is required, but even if it isn’t, it is still valuable to newly elected board members who are unsure of their new role in their community. To encourage all of your board members to participate (not just the newbies), consider adding additional content that is of interest to all. For example, invite some of your community vendors and partners to participate in the event. An AMA (Ask Me Anything) style forum is a good way to give current board members answers to their questions, and the event can be recorded and placed on the company’s website to help future members as well.

Events like these will put your management company front and center of your board members minds (in a positive way), help keep the flow of information even when everyone cannot be in the same room together, and helps make your management company more ‘sticky’ for your clients.

If you are considering hosting or participating in virtual events for the education of your management team or board members, we hope that the above tips give you some insight into what has worked for us and ways you can separate yourself from the crowd. As your partner, Axela is always available to help out if you need a speaker for your virtual event.

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