Give Your Meetings a Competitive Edge

Associations are holding competitions during their meetings and events to not only celebrate their industries but also to engage the next generation of members.

There’s no harm in a little healthy competition, right? After all, competition often creates buzz and brings people together, even if in the form of trash talking. But what could it mean when it comes to your association’s meetings and events? Well, as these three examples show, adding a competitive element to a meeting could be a great way to showcase the work of your association’ industry, and it could also be a way to highlight and engage your next generation of members.

 Adding a competitive element to a meeting could be a great way to showcase the work of your association’ industry, and it could also be a way to highlight and engage your next generation of members.

Lights, Camera, Action

AIGA, the professional association for design, holds a live design reality show during its biennial conference. Called “Command X,” the show—whose fourth season kicked off yesterday with the start of the 2013 conference—allows seven up-and-coming designers the chance “to break into the industry in front of 1,800 peers, heroes, and potential employers.”

The contestants, who are all under 26 and were selected to be part of the competition over the summer after applying, are narrowed down to five after presenting projects during the first round of eliminations. The five finalists are then paired up with a mentor, who will help them through the onsite competition part, which in the past has asked finalists to revamp packaging, logos, and ad campaigns in a short timeframe for well-known brands like Elvis Presley’s Graceland and Captain Crunch cereal. The winner, selected by audience votes taken through the conference app and via text message, takes home a number of prizes, including cash and a year-long subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Adding to the fun is emcee Matteo Bologna and Sean Adams, who AIGA calls its “very own Tim Gunn.”

Want to check it out for yourself? Click here to watch the episodes from season 3.

An Olympic Event

There no better way to illustrate the work of your industry than by showing it in action. And for the National Parking Association (NPA), this means holding its annual National Valet Olympics during its Annual Convention & Expo. Teams, composed of three “Valet Olympians” and a coach, participate in four events: Key Jumble, Valet Relay, Slalom, and Luggage Load.  During the Luggage Load competition, each team member transfers luggage to and from a bell cart into a vehicle trunk, while the Slalom competition requires each team member to drive through a cone-filled course aiming for the safest and fastest time.

Teams, which pay to be a part of the event but are not required to be NPA members, often practice and hold their own competitions in the months leading up to the event. The video below shows Advanced Parking Concepts holding a competition earlier this year to determine which employees would go to the NPA event.

NPA’s competition took place yesterday in Chicago, but as of deadline, the winners had not been announced.  Keep your eyes on this webpage to see who won, or for more information on the competition, here’s a link to the detailed rules and protocols [PDF].

The Verdict’s In

The Hispanic National Bar Association holds an event at its Annual Corporate Counsel Conference to get law students engaged and involved: the Uvaldo Herrera National Moot Court Competition.

Teams, which pay to be a part of the competition and must be members of both HNBA  and its Law Student Division, consist of at least two but no more than three law students from the same law school.

Ahead of the meeting, each team is given a problem. For example, at the 2012 event, contestants focused on whether the 4th Amendment was violated when police placed a GPS tracking device on the car of a drug-trafficking suspect without a warrant. After submitting briefs to HNBA prior to the competition, teams present oral arguments during the meeting.  Their brief and oral argument scores, which are weighed differently depending on the round, are then used to determine the winners, who are awarded scholarship money.

In prior years, around 30 law student teams took part in the competition, which is judged by practicing attorneys and members of the bench from throughout the United States. The 2014 competition will be held in March.

Each of these examples show how holding a competition during your meetings and events can increase member engagement or even get your new or younger members interested and involved in your industry and association. The added exposure of your members to industry leaders can also lead to job opportunities for participants.

Does your association hold competitions at your events to build camaraderie and engage members? Please share the details in the comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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