Should I Say Something?

2015-9-29 Should I Say Something
Image Credit: Benjamin Child

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a group meeting nervously tapping your foot and wondering if you should speak up with your idea. Or, worse yet, the collective sigh as you asked a question left you wondering if you spoke out of turn.

How do you know if it’s the right time to share your idea?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before speaking up in a meeting.

Should I Say Something?

  • Is the idea on topic and on task?
    • If it’s on topic, on task, and an appropriate time to speak up, go ahead and share!
    • If you plan to say, “This is off topic, but …” you should plan to bring up the idea later. You want your contributions help to achieve the goal of the meeting – that will always help you look good.
  • Does the concern or idea affect the entire group?
    • If you want to try a new process but it might affect others, such as cause them to receive emails about the change or affect how their normal procedures work, it’s definitely a team concern, so speak up!
    • If the question is only for your supervisor and doesn’t affect the rest of the team, it’s likely a personal question in disguise.
  • Can the question be answered quickly in an email?
    • Send an email unless it’s an FAQ others are concerned about, too.
  • Has someone else already expressed the concern?
    • Make sure that your question covers new territory or asks for clarification on a particular point. If you’re confused about details, it’s likely others are, too.
  • Does it require a long explanation?
    • If the idea can’t be explained simply, the idea probably isn’t fully developed. Refine your pitch to be brief and focused on the goal of the meeting.
  • Does it require sharing confidential information?
  • Will it put a team member in a negative light?
    • Don’t throw your teammate under the proverbial bus – especially in a group meeting. Carefully craft your comments to be solutions focused before you share your idea. As always, a good rule of thumb is that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Still unsure? During an appropriate time in the meeting, such as the Q&A at the end, ask, “Do we have time to cover [topic]?” Keep this request just as brief and simple as that. Be sure to wait for the leader to respond before you go any further.

Remember, the idea doesn’t have to “die” just because it isn’t shared in the meeting. Great ideas that are off-topic are still great ideas. Make a note of those sidebar, off-topic ideas and share them with the appropriate person after the meeting.

Often, it’s less about when you say something and more about how you say it. It helps to think about how you want people to perceive you. Do you want to be seen as being solutions oriented, a problem solver and a marvel of efficiency? Shape your questions and comments around those ideas.

Whether you share in the meeting or afterwards via email, make sure you pass along your innovative ideas. Your team needs your valuable perspective!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

TED Talks for Associations

Image Credit: Mary Pi
Image Credit: Mari Pi

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

Looking for new and different inspiration for your associations? Check out a TED Talk.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, TED Talks are Technology, Entertainment, and Design presentations under the concept of “Ideas Worth Spreading.” (More on TED Talks here.)

Most of the Talks are about 20min long, which is the perfect length to view over lunch and refresh your mind for the rest of the day.

While TED Talks aren’t specifically about associations we think the concepts can provide inspiration for any organization.

8 Ted Talks to Inspire Associations

  1. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
  2. Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?
  3. Melinda Gates: What nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola
  4. Michael Porter: Why business can be good at solving social problems
  5. Roselinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader
  6. Beth Kanter: Doing Good Online
  7. Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From
  8. Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration

What are your favorite TED Talks? Let us know in the comment section below.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.


How to Unsend an Email

Image Credit: Aleksi Tappura

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

For all those times when you:

  • Forgot the attachment
  • Sent the email to the wrong “Jennifer”
  • Found a glorious typo seconds too late
  • Reconsidered your response to that critical email
  • Neglected the most important piece of information and needed to send a second email
  • Accidentally clicked “Reply All”

And wished you could undo it. This post is for you.

How to Unsend an Email … Sort Of.

Using Rules in Outlook, you can set up “deferred delivery” of an email such that after you click “Send” your email will sit in the Outbox for a time before it actually sends.

During that time, if you suddenly realize you forgot the attachment, etc., you can re-open the email in your Outbox, make changes, and click Send again.

While this function won’t actually bring the email back after it has been delivered, it does give you a small window of time to fix a mistake.

If you use Gmail, you can enable the Undo Send feature.

To set up deferred delivery in Outlook:

  1. Click on Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts.

manage rules

  1. Click on New Rule.
  1. At the pop up, select “Apply rule on messages I send” > Click Next.

apply rule

  1. At the “Which condition(s) do you want to check?” screen, do not select anything. Click Next.
  1. Click “Yes” when prompted to apply the rule to every message you send.
  1. Select “Defer delivery by a number of minutes.” In the Step 2 box, click the “number of minutes” to specify how many minutes to defer delivery. Click Next.
    A one minute delay has served me well. If you find that one minute isn’t enough time you can always modify the rule to boost the delay to two minutes or more.

delay minutes

  1. On the next screen, you can set up any exceptions to the rule here. If not, click Next.
  1. Name your rule, select “Turn on this rule” and click Finish!
    You will want to keep the name simple, such as “Defer delivery by 1 minute.”

finish rule
If you don’t want to delay all of your emails, check out the first part of this post for how to delay a single email.

Do you have any other email tips? Please share in the comments below!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Theft Prevention Measures at Conferences

Image Credit: By Alejandro Escamilla
Image Credit: By Alejandro Escamilla

By Valerie Sprague, AMS Manager

Things can get hectic when attending or working onsite at a conference, not to mention the numerous distractions you encounter. In the blink of an eye someone can grab an unattended item (i.e. laptop, mobile device, etc.) for which your chances of recovery may be very small. You might feel a false sense of security while among your peers at a conference but you can’t forget about all of the other individuals who might be walking around a hotel or conference center.

Here are some tips on theft prevention measures to take while traveling to or attending a conference:

  • Do not leave your device(s) unattended. This may seem like common sense but it’s so easy to think “I’ll be right back” or “I’m just stepping away for a second.” Don’t risk that your device(s) aren’t where you left them when you return from a quick coffee break or a trip to the restroom.
  • Use a theft deterrent device. Consider purchasing a theft deterrent device for extra safety and security. Something like a cable security lock for a laptop would be a good investment that allows you to easily secure your laptop to a fixed item which will hopefully deter any theft attempts. Just don’t forget to hold on to the key!
  • Secure your device(s) in a locked room when not in use. Make sure to keep rooms, such as your conference storage space, locked when you are not present. Especially overnight if this is where you opt to store your device(s) when registration is closed. The same thing applies to leaving them in your hotel room unattended. It might be a good idea to use that cable lock, an available hotel room safe or to just keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room while you’re out so that nobody enters your room unexpectedly.
  • Be vigilant when traveling with your device(s). Don’t forget your laptop when packing your bag up after going through security. Also make sure not to let your travel bag with your devices out of your sight when in the airport. Don’t leave it in the overhead bin of the plane either! The same reminders apply with transportation methods while traveling, such as taxi cabs and airport shuttles.
  • Protect your data. Make sure to password protect all of your devices using strong passwords. And when able, encrypt your local files and folders; or consider storing these sensitive documents someplace other than on your device while traveling (i.e. Dropbox). In the event your device does end up in the hands of someone it shouldn’t, you will want these added layers of security. And you will also want to consider making a back-up of the data from your device prior to traveling.

Remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

How to Get the Most Out of Professional Development

Image Credit: Ariana Escobar

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

Whether it’s a one hour webinar, a conference, or a certification program, professional development is an important investment of our time, resources and attention. How do you make sure you are getting the most out of your investment?


If you’re attending an event, find out if any colleagues plan to attend as well. For the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, IMI sent four staff members which allowed us to take advantage of a variety of the concurrent sessions and maximize the information we learned. Going as a team also helps to alleviate that disappointment when you simply can’t make it to a session on your “wish list.” You can coordinate schedules to see if someone is able to sit in the session for you.


Immediately following the event, get together with attendees and discuss the highlights. Talking through the information can really help to solidify concepts and flesh out ideas. Also, hearing how others experienced the event provides “fresh” eyes on what we experienced. Don’t forget to make a list of any action items that come up as part of the discussion. If you didn’t attend with colleagues, you can journal or write a blog post for a similar effect.

Here are just a few questions you can use to generate discussion:

  • What excited you?
  • What was helpful?
  • What needs further research?
  • What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
  • What did or didn’t work for you as an attendee?
  • How did the speaker make you feel?
  • What made the session engaging?
  • Would you attend next year?
  • What would you do differently?
  • Who did you meet?


Make sure that you share the knowledge and ideas with the entire team – not just those who attended. IMI best practice is to share meeting notes and any resources with the entire team so that everyone can benefit. Get in the habit of taking good notes! If you take notes the old-fashioned way, like I do, type up the important concepts after the meeting. During a webinar, screenshots are helpful to capture visual resources and quickly summarize key points.


Applying the new information is the most crucial part. One thing I like to do is carve out a small block of time following the meeting to make the first steps on those action items or to schedule further time to research. Perhaps you need to redesign your Twitter header, set an appointment with your insurance agent, schedule a staff meeting to discuss a new process, or research a new association management system. Break any large tasks into smaller, manageable tasks. At next year’s conference you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

Stay tuned for a list of our top ASAE sessions and more about what we learned. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your professional development opportunities? Let us know in the comments!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.


Loose Lips Sink Ships … And Client Relationships

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Stevie Kernick,  owner emeritus, account manager

No matter what your generational representation, you have likely heard the phrase, “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” coined during World War II as part of a general campaign of American propaganda to warn servicemen and other citizens to avoid careless talk concerning secure information that might be of use to the enemy.

So, might you ask, what does this have to do with associations?

With any long-term client affiliation, the association staff working with that association develops relationships with members and, particularly, those members in leadership positions with whom staff is apt to have frequent interactions. Those client-staff relationship can often move beyond discussion of the day-to-day operations of the association into more personal conversations on family activities, birthdays, weddings or vacations.

So far, this is fairly benign.

But what about the member who wants to talk with you about a negative interaction or exchange with another member? Your antenna should go up … but does it?

It’s easy to get pulled into negativity. Perhaps you also have had a similar negative response to that same member, or even another member. And since you are intimately sharing information already, it’s easy to add to the conversation with your own experiences with members, all of which seems most innocuous at the moment.

The funny thing about relationships, however, is that a riff in the relationship between two members can be resolved almost as quickly as the initial grievance occurred, and a few months later those two members are suddenly congenial and conversive and you are hoping your negative comments are not remembered or, at the least, not being repeated.

Suddenly the confidential relationship you thought you shared with that member or board member is in question. Might your “loose lips” comments be shared with other members of leadership? The board president? Your immediate supervisor? How might that impact the client’s perception of your management company and its ability to maintain appropriate levels of confidentiality?

You are starting to sweat and so you should be.

The advice is quite simple. Do NOT under any circumstances allow yourself to be drawn into negative conversations about any association members. If you find yourself a party to such a negative conversation, excuse yourself and make a hasty retreat.

You can politely and professionally suggest that any problems between two or more members be directed to the association president for action.

Don’t let your “loose lips” be the reason your management company loses a client or you lose your job.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Strategies for Responding to Criticism

Image Credit: Håkon Sataøen
Image Credit: Håkon Sataøen

 By Rachel Owen, communications manager

It’s going to happen. There’s just no way of getting around it. No matter how skilled you are, or how careful you are, eventually someone will come to you with negative feedback. Although the conversation may be uncomfortable, with the right response you can emerge looking like a gem.

Strategies for responding to criticism

Be prepared with a response.

Create a “go-to” phrase to use. Having a response ready to go adds a layer of calm and reduces the chance of saying something you will regret. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • “Thank you very much for your feedback.”
  • “I appreciate you taking the time to share that with me, thank you.”
  • “Thanks for sharing that feedback with me. I’ll keep that in mind if this situation happens again.”
  • “I appreciate that insight into your perspective. That feedback is helpful, thank you.”

Ask for more information.

If you don’t understand the feedback, be sure to ask for clarification. If you believe the feedback to be based on incorrect information, be sure to ask for more information before you respond. Examples:

  • “That’s really interesting. I’d never thought of it that way. Can you tell me a little more about [topic]?”
  • “I want to make sure I have all the information when I bring this concern back to my team. Can you explain a little more about [topic]?”
  • “That [term/concept] isn’t familiar to me. Can you explain what that means so I can make sure I understand correctly?”

Ask for more time to respond.

Sometimes it’s best to let an issue cool off a little. This is especially the case if you will need to refute some of the criticism, such as if there’s a misunderstanding about a contract or service. A little bit of distance will help you stay calm and will help the critic know you carefully considered their issue rather than rejecting it out of hand.

  • “Thank you for letting us know about the issue. We are sorry about the frustration. I’m going to check with my team to see if they have any insight into what happened. I will be in touch soon.”
  • “I would like to talk about this more but I need a little bit of time to process this information. Can we schedule a time to discuss this on Thursday?”
  • “This feedback is very important to me and you’ve given me a lot to think about. Can we set an appointment to discuss this again in a couple days?”

It’s okay to be wrong.

We all make mistakes. What you do in response to the mistake will set you apart from the others. If you made a mistake, simply apologize and offer solutions. Refusing to admit you made a mistake will only dig the hole deeper. A little bit of humility will go a long way.

Be humble.

No matter how high you climb, there is always room for improvement. Everyone can benefit from feedback. Stay humble and issue a simple, sincere “thank you” to show the best version of you.

Don’t argue.

It’s okay to clear up misinformation by sharing about the experience from your perspective, but don’t be confrontational. Don’t spend a lot of time picking apart the misunderstanding. When the situation dissolves into arguing, no one wins. The end goal of the discussion always should be resolving the conflict, not blame casting. Briefly share your perspective and then move on to solutions.

Say thanks.

My rule of thumb is always say thanks. Not sure what to say? Say thanks. You disagree with the feedback? Say thanks. The critic is being a jerk? Say thanks. The feedback really helped? Say thanks. “Thanks” is the best way to help the critic walk away feeling like you handle feedback well.

Do you have other strategies for responding well to criticism? Let us know in the comments!

Related posts:

The Other First Impression

The Gift You’re Probably Rejecting

How to Say No

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

The Other “First Impression”

Image Credit: Ben Rosett

By Rachel Owen, communications manager

We hear a lot about how first impressions are one of the most important moments in any relationship. When we think of first impressions we primarily think of the first meeting, the first proposal to a new client or the first project after you join a new team. Instinctively, we understand that in that moment how we present ourselves can make or break a relationship.

How you respond to negative feedback creates a supercharged “first impression.”

Negative feedback is inevitable and how you respond can be a turning point in a relationship whether the feedback comes from a client, coworker or friend.

While we put a lot of time and effort into first impressions, we often overlook this important moment of receiving criticism. Here are a few reasons why your response to negative feedback is a critical “first impression.”

How you respond to feedback shows your character.

If you reject feedback by saying you are so successful that you don’t need feedback (as someone said to me recently) you will say a lot about yourself – and it may not be the story you want to tell. Think about how you want others to see you: Do you want to be known as someone who is willing to learn, who is able to change and who listens carefully? Or do you want to be seen as someone who always needs to be right? Be prepared so that you will always show the best version of yourself.

You can build bridges or you can burn them.

When you respond well to feedback you build bridges of communication. You teach your client, coworker, boss or friend that they can come to you with issues and you will make it right without a hassle. You show that it doesn’t take a sledgehammer to get through to you – and that’s a good thing. Also, when others see that you are easy to work with they are more likely to stay in connection with you – whether that means renewing contracts, selecting you for other projects, or otherwise maintaining the relationship.

You can turn the tide.

A frustrated caller once launched into our conversation by expressing that he was very angry. Despite his obvious frustration, I kept things casual and asked for more information “so we can make this right.” I’ll never forget how his voice and behavior immediately changed – he was pleasantly surprised! He expected defensiveness and an argument, but I let him know right away that we’d help. In the end, we had a great conversation, were able to resolve his issue and he learned firsthand how we respond to conflict.

Feedback is a gift.

We’ve talked before about how feedback is a gift. Just like receiving physical presents, how you receive their feedback is important. Remember, there is always a piece of the giver in the gift. If you reject the gift harshly you may create a breach in the relationship. Always be prepared to accept the gift with grace.

Stay tuned! Soon we’ll share some strategies on how to respond to criticism and come out better on the other side.

Related posts:

The Gift You’re Probably Rejecting

5 Ways to Save a Bad Day

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Simple Tips to Complete Your To-Do List

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Adrian Emerson, Association Accounting Specialist

Recently, I attended an interesting class presented by Emily Parks with Organize for Success, LLC, called, “Moving From To-Do to Done: Task & Project Management Tools.” The class was a combination of tips to get things done more efficiently and suggestions of software that can help. Did you know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different technology options to help with your to-do list? Of course, everyone has their personal preferences. Here is a brief overview of what I found to be the best tips to help get things done.

Decisions, Decisions.

With every task you must first decide what to do with it. Parks suggests four main options: Discard, Delegate, Delay, or Do. Making this decision should be done as soon as you get the task and update your task list as necessary as part of regular daily/weekly planning. Parks recommends the following four questions to help you determine what to do with a task:

  • Does this task move you or your company towards achieving goals? Or are you passionate about the task? If not, is its completion legally required?
  • Does the task require skills that you are exclusively qualified for or can others complete the task in an acceptable manner?
  • Could another person gain useful experience by completing the task?
  • Does this task really need to be done immediately?

To automate is to delegate.

Delegating does not always mean assigning the task to another person. You can also use technology to automate some tasks, like scheduling social media or blog posts and email filters to automatically move certain emails to different folders for later viewing or automatic filing. There are even some online services that use the simple format that if a certain action happens then you can have the service automate another action. For example, if you’re tagged in a photo on one website then you can have the same photo posted to another website.

Make it manageable.

Now that you are left with only the necessary items on your to-do list, here are some tips Parks gives to make the list easier to manage. First, break larger projects into smaller tasks and always give a task a due date even if it’s a month into the future. Next, group similar items together, like blocking off a section of time to make all of your phone calls for the day or clean up and respond to emails instead of going back and forth between tasks. She also proposes have a list of small action items that only take a few minutes, like making a phone call or reviewing an invoice, to be completed during small time blocks, like waiting in carpool or waiting for a meeting to start. Lastly, be realistic about what you can complete in a day. Parks says that on average you should only schedule to complete 3-5 tasks each day depending on your meeting schedule for the day.

Prioritize to stay focused.

Next you have to prioritize your task list, which for me is one of the more difficult things to do. Sometimes we are faced with emergencies and last minute requests, but Parks has strategies for those unexpected tasks, too. She advises two concepts for prioritizing tasks. The first is the Urgent & Important Matrix:

Image Source: Karthik Gurumurthy

It is suggested that Urgent and Important items be completed first, followed by Not Urgent but Important items, then Urgent but Not Important, and finally Not Urgent and Not Important items.

Another concept which can be applied in conjunction with the Urgent & Important Matrix is the Rock vs. Pebbles vs. Grains of Sand. The idea is that tasks that are Urgent and Important are Rocks, Urgent but Not Important and Not Urgent but Important tasks are Pebbles, and Not Urgent and Not Important tasks are Grains of Sand. Each day’s tasks should be a good mix of all three items. Think about it like this: A Rock can be something big and important like spending time with your family, then a Pebble can be something like finishing the laundry, which you would like to do today but ultimately can wait until tomorrow, and then Grains of Sand can be watching the newest episode of your favorite show.

Schedule for success.

Finally, you should plan your schedule of tasks weekly and revisit the schedule daily. Parks suggests that once a week you should create a schedule of 3-5 tasks for each day of the following week. Start with any tasks that were not completed this week and coordinate around meetings or other projects due in the coming week. Remember to plan out your Rocks, Pebbles, and Grains of Sand evenly. Parks goes on to recommend doing a daily wrap up at the end of each day. She suggests you take 10-15 minutes to review completed tasks and tasks that need to be rescheduled. Make sure you are prepared for the tasks scheduled for the next day, and request updates from team members as needed. She also advises tiding up your work space for fewer distractions the following morning.

Forward movement!

Finally, she says to celebrate the work that you were able to accomplish, even if you didn’t actually “finish” anything. Remember, they say starting a project is often harder than completing it.

For more tips about organization and information about Emily Parks, visit her company website:

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

The Gift You’re (Probably) Rejecting

Image Credit: Sebastian Pichler
Image Credit: Sebastian Pichler

By Rachel Owen, communications manager

Nobody enjoys receiving criticism. Whether the “bad news” comes from a client, coworker or a friend, receiving negative feedback is not fun. We instinctively want to defend ourselves and reject the criticism. Unfortunately, that defensive posture often keeps us from gaining value from the experience.

Criticism is an often overlooked way to grow and learn.

One of the best ways that I have found to help learn from criticism is to consciously consider the feedback as a “gift.”

Why Feedback is a Gift

It’s an opportunity to improve.

Now that you know where the hot spots are you can make them better. When you receive feedback, always ask yourself “what can I learn from this?” You can tweak, reformat, regroup and make changes to come out better on the other side.

It shows us our blind spots.

Feedback, whether positive or negative, is an opportunity to see from an outsider’s perspective. If you do any sort of writing you know that typos hide from the writer’s eyes! Only a fresh set of eyes can help us weed out the mistakes. It takes an outsider to make us our best.

It shows a measure of trust.

Negative feedback is hard to receive, but it’s also difficult to give. When someone provides negative feedback it indicates they trust that your relationship is strong enough to handle a little friction. It also shows that they want you to succeed and they care enough to take the time to provide feedback.

It’s not all about you.

Criticism is just as much an insight into the critic as it is about you. Negative feedback is a snapshot of what makes them angry, what’s important to them, their pet peeves and their expectations. You can learn what makes that person “tick.” Listen well and you may be able to avoid future misunderstandings.

The next time you receive negative feedback, I hope you’ll think of it as a gift. Don’t forget to take one small moment to say “thank you.”

Related Posts:

5 Ways to Save a Bad Day

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.