Weekly Now: What We Unexpectedly Miss About In-Person Meetings

In any other year, swag is something we tend to have too much of—but in 2020, it’s just something we miss about meetings, a CVB explains. Also: What might be the perfect acronym to describe the current moment.

With a strange year coming to a close, there’s plenty we all miss about the days before COVID-19.

In fact, you might find yourself missing things that you never expected you’d miss—especially at meetings.

This was the idea behind a recent series of animated shorts from the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, “What We Never Thought We’d Miss About Meetings.”

The shorts—“too much swag,” “the close talker,” and “late-night networking”—each highlight a specific kind of in-person meeting annoyance that doesn’t feel quite so annoying now that it’s gone.

The goal of the clips was to remind meeting planners of “the small moments that permeate the in-person meeting experience,” said Joe Heller, PHLCVB vice president of marketing and communications.

“Nine months into a pandemic that has kept most of us at home, steeped in Zoom fatigue and physical distancing, we found ourselves waxing nostalgic about aspects of meetings and events that no one thought we would ever miss,” Heller said in a news release.

Other recent headlines:

Supporting students during the COVID-19 era. A new survey from the National PTA and the NEA finds that students are less interested in in-person learning at this time, with only 38 percent calling it their preference, compared with 27 percent preferring a hybrid approach. And students who are fully online strongly favor that approach going forward, with only 28 percent of current online learners wanting to return to full-time, in-person instruction. With that in mind, the two groups are making suggestions to balance needs in the current environment, including more tutoring, creating consistent routines, and offering additional support for students managing this new world. “No matter the education model, all students have suffered due to the pandemic and economic crisis,” the groups stated in a news release.

A collective call for mental health help. A coalition of CEOs from a number of major mental health associations are collaborating to work with state and federal governments on the mental health crisis prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The leaders of 14 groups—including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Well Being Trust—issued a “unified vision,” a statement calling for steps to assist the public in managing their mental health amid the crisis. “The levies have broken on an overwhelmed system of care and state leadership must move to address mental health care as an integral aspect of their pandemic response,” the groups said in a statement. “As leaders in mental health care, we offer a viable roadmap for immediate and long-term changes that will lead to a mental health care system capable of saving our nation.”

Get Acquainted With VUCA

Associations are known for their use of acronyms.

With that in mind, the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE) resurfaced one that fits with the times in which we live: VUCA, which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

“While VUCA first surfaced back in the ’80s during the Cold War era, it’s resurfacing to apply to how we view the current whitewater conditions in which we must plan, problem-solve, and make decisions,” explained WACE President Dave Kilby.

Listen to the latest episode of WACE’s Chamber Leadership Podcast to get a feel for how VUCA can prove a useful form of leadership for your organization.


Run into a career setback this year? Read some thoughts from a career counselor with a foot in the association space on how to move forward.

The power of “fast data” can help you make business decisions rapidly, explains Lisa Boylan.

With 2021 on its way, virtual meetings will need to continue evolving to meet the expectations of attendees in the year ahead, Samantha Whitehorne writes.

Yep, we even miss “close talkers”! (PHLCVB)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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