As anyone in a noisy group message or email chain can attest to, just because you can reply all, doesn’t mean you always should. Keeping virtual communication concise and clutter free, especially during times of confusion, is critical to keeping your audience attentive.
In our last post, we discussed how to maximize virtual governance for chapters so that chapter leaders can continue to provide valuable services to members. With a switch to virtual operations, you may need to pivot your chapter leader communications to make sure you are providing the right kind of support.
CLUTTER-FREE COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES
It’s time to Marie Kondo your communications. While it’s important to still check in with chapter leaders regularly, you should strive for the right balance. If they’ve had to move chapter operations virtual, it’s likely they have a lot more going on than usual. You don’t want to become an additional burden.
Be concise. Make it easy for chapter leaders to skim or quickly read through your emails with these guidelines:
- Put the latest news up top.
- Use short blurbs containing essential information and link to more detail on your website.
- Add bold subheads so they can see what you are covering at a glance.
- Use bullet points.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
- Add a list of linked resources at the bottom so they don’t have to go searching for URLs.
In a virtual world, transparency is comforting. Making your communications as clear as possible lets your chapter leaders make decisions and take action without doubt or hesitation.
VIRTUAL TOWN HALL FOR CHAPTER LEADERS
Another communication option is to gather your chapter leaders for a virtual town hall, open house, or idea swap. A new line of communication can reinforce your organization’s commitment to your chapter leaders and their success.
You can include people from various aspects of your organization to speak to specific topics. For example, have someone on your event team talk through lost sponsor revenue or have the marketing/communications team describe best practices for crisis communication. Leverage members of your IT team to review web-conferencing and other virtual meeting options.
Send out critical information before your virtual town hall so the time together can be focused on questions and idea sharing. You can also request questions ahead of time to keep things moving. Address member and chapter leader needs, for example, guidance on virtual meetings, online education, marketing, and member online engagement.
After the town hall, be sure to post a recording to your chapter leader website or portal. Add a brief description and topic timeline so leaders can quickly get to the information they need. Display a schedule of upcoming chapter leader meetings with an option to add the meeting and reminders to their calendar. Post a form that chapter leaders can use to submit questions, ideas, and success stories.
If you are worried that a town hall might attract too large of a group, add regional virtual meetups to the schedule. In a smaller meetup, chapter leaders have less people to share the floor with and more opportunities to swap ideas. Be mindful of not overscheduling, especially if it’s during a time of crisis.
HELPFUL AGENDA ITEMS
You won’t be running short of material for conversation, that’s for sure. Describe the support and resources you’re offering. For example, guidelines and verbiage on postponing/cancelling meetings, sponsorship strategies, member engagement options, and virtual meeting technology recommendations.
Most importantly, reserve time to listen. Regardless if you request questions ahead of time, make sure you have space on the agenda to address concerns and problems. Explain how chapter leaders can give you feedback. If it’s not being covered in the town hall or meetup, provide them with the contact information on your chapter leader website or portal so they know who to contact about different topics.
CHAPTER LEADER WEBPAGE
Receiving repetitive calls and emails from chapter leaders about virtual operations? Consider creating a dedicated webpage with common questions that they can easily refer to. Here you can include:
- Critical news
- Chapter leader resources
- Recording of virtual town halls, meetings, webinars, and training
- Copies of important email blasts and a brief description of each one’s topics
Keep the webpage easily readable by organizing by topic, for example: events/contracts, sponsorships, virtual meetings, virtual events/online education, marketing, communication, etc.
Alpha Omicron Pi has implemented a pop-up on the front page of their website directing site visitors to a resource page where they can learn more about the organization’s efforts related to COVID-19. The page is dedicated to important updates, contact information, and guidelines. All updates are clearly marked with time and date so visitors can be sure they are getting the most up-to-date information. Additionally, they’ve included bold, capitalized links to the resource page on important pages throughout their website, so it can’t be missed.
Putting in the extra effort to keep the lines of communication clear and open during a time of confusion will go a long way to comfort chapter leaders. Be mindful of their time and capacity to find the right balance of support.