Interel Wins 3 European Public Affairs Awards

by Kieran O’Keeffe on Thursday, 23 November 2017

Interel picked up an impressive 3 awards including Consultancy of the Year, Best In-House Agency Collaboration and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Catherine Stewart (former Chairman of Interel’s EU practice and now a Senior Advisor) at this year’s European Public Affairs Awards.

European Public Affairs Awards.
Commenting on the result, Managing Partner of the EU Practice, Grégoire Poisson, said: “Tonight’s awards are a reflection of our ability to think strategically and creatively for clients, which helps us to deliver excellence time after time. Our Count on Us strapline encapsulates why we have some of the world’s leading blue-chip companies and international professional societies as clients”.

Fredrik Lofthagen, Interel Group CEO, added: “Tonight’s accolades show the market that when they think public affairs they need to think about Interel. We are the global public affairs firm and that focus helps us to excel at what we’re good at”.

Commenting on her Outstanding Achievement Award, Catherine Stewart said: “This is also an award for the professionalisation of our industry. As a founding member of the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) this has always been an issue close to my heart. I’m grateful to some of the outstanding clients and colleagues that I’ve worked with over the years and of course to my long-suffering family. I intend to add many more achievements to the list in the years to come as part of the Interel team”.

For further information please contact Kieran O’Keeffe [email protected] or 0032 (0)476 900 255.


Notes to editors

Interel is the global public affairs and government relations specialists. We help our clients to manage political risk and capitalise on political opportunity by engaging proactively with all the stakeholders who can have an impact on their success and sustainability. Our experts in more than 60 markets deliver political risk and opportunity analysis, and strategic engagement solutions which deliver measurable results. Interel’s EU Practice has been a market leader in Brussels for more than 30 years and counts, amongst others, the Coca-Cola Company, Asahi, the Alibaba Group, Expedia, Merck, EcoLab, Intel and Sony as clients.

Details of the European Public Affairs Awards can be found here:

The winning entries for this year’s awards were as follows:

  • Consultancy of the Year: The EU Practice has secured 1.5 million euros in new revenue during the course of this year. New client wins included several highly innovative companies such as Chargepoint, Eaton, Frontiers and TE Connectivity.
  • Best In-House Agency Collaboration: Interel seconded Isabel de Castro to Coca-Cola’s in-house public policy team for nine months, resulting in closer and more efficient cooperation between the in-house and agency teams.
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Catherine Stewart was the unanimous choice of the Senior Judges reflecting her substantial contribution to the profession.

IN MEMORIAM: Christine Burgaud (1965 – 2017), CFO, Interel

It is with heavy hearts and deep regret that we share the sad news of the sudden passing of Interel’s long-time CFO, Christine Burgaud.

Christine joined Interel in 2007, and has since been a key part of the firm’s development and expansion not only in Europe but around the world from the U.S. to Asia. Always a “rock” in difficult times and the changing winds of business, Christine kept a steady hand on the wheel to navigate the firm through the global financial crisis soon after she joined and helped maintain a course of continued growth to build what Interel is today.

Christine was also at the heart of the Interel family as her work touched every office, practice and department of the company. A world-class professional with an eagle-eye for detail, Christine could always be counted on to be strictly diligent on the numbers but always easily ready for a laugh with colleagues, whether in person are on an international Skype or phone call. She will be sorely missed by everyone at Interel.

A native of Paris, Christine joined Interel after a tenure at the international firm Securitas as its financial director. Having spent many years living in Africa earlier in her life, Christine was a lover of international travel and experiencing new cultures as well as enjoying the fine arts, fitting in a museum visit whenever she could on her business trips. She was a devoted mother to her young daughter and a dear friend to many.

Words cannot fully express the absence we feel with Christine’s passing, but she would expect nothing less of us than to continue bringing our best to our jobs, each other, and the company that she helped grow over the past decade. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.

Section on Women’s Health Selects Tamela Blalock, MBA, CMP, DES as Executive Director

Tamela Blalock

Tamela Blalock

McLean, VA, June 30, 2017 – The Section on Women’s Health (SoWH), an affiliated and independent arm of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), has chosen Tamela Blalock, a goal oriented leader with an 18 year track record in strengthening associations, as its new executive director, effective July 10, 2017.

Established just over 40 years ago, SoWH is a 3,000-member professional association for physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students working within and advocating for vital areas of women’s and men’s health, including pelvic floor health, sport injury recovery, and continence. The Section focuses on providing high-quality continuing education through courses, publications and outreach. Through its PT Locator, it also connects consumers to local physical therapy professionals who can address their health concerns.

“I am so excited to have the opportunity to help lead the Section and its wonderful volunteer leaders, especially at such a critical time in both the national health care conversation and within SoWH,” said Tamela Blalock. “The members and board are clearly passionate, accomplished PT professionals, and we will be focused in the near future on implementing our rebranding and on achieving the goals and objectives in our strategic plan – I can’t wait to get started!”

“The Section on Women’s Health has a growing membership and menu of services and educational opportunities that need the right type of member-centric executive director to work with our board and volunteers,” stated SoWH President Patricia Wolfe, PT, MS. “We are confident that Tamela’s drive, energy and experiences will prove valuable as we move ahead, and we welcome her to the profession of physical therapy and the SoWH.”

Blalock will begin her tenure with two July scheduled volunteer leader retreats, the SoWH’s CAPP Education Committee as well as the summer retreat and planning session for the SoWH Board of Directors.


About SoWH
The Section on Women’s Health, one of 25 professional and trade organizations managed by the Washington, D.C. and Brussels-based Interel + AMG, promotes and expands physical therapy’s role in the field of women’s health and wellness across the lifespan. It allows physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students sharing a common interest in the problems and concerns of women to meet, confer, and promote these interests. Among other services, the Section develops educational resources, and practice and education standards for addressing health issues. The section also provides training and fosters research:

Newly merged Interel + AMG (Association Management Group), is dedicated to staffing and managing nonprofits of all types, and to provide government relations and public affairs to clients served. It provides unsurpassed management expertise to empower organizations to meet their objectives and achieve success. With offices in the major world capitals, Interel + AMG is the leading Washington, D.C.-based Association Management Company (AMC), and is accredited by the Association Management Company Institute (AMCI). This prestigious accreditation indicates highest-quality management practices and procedures, as well as optimal delivery of services to AMG client organizations. Learn more about Interel + AMG:

A Card Sorting Snapshot

Leslie Boppert, Senior Graphic Designer, Interel + AMG

Card Sorting 1

Struggling to figure out how to structure and label your association’s website content to make it easier for users to navigate? Try a card sort. Card sorting is an inexpensive and relatively easy way to conduct user research, where participants are tasked with naming categories of topics they’ve grouped together. Conducting a sort allows you to gain some insight on how a user understands and processes your site’s content.

Note, card sorting is user research and not marketing research. Therefore, it is used to find common patterns among a small number of participants to better understand a user’s behavior and needs.

Why is Sorting Important?
Your users, whether members, prospective members, event attendees, students, and/or educators, are visiting your site with an agenda in mind. If they can’t find what they’re looking for or have issues completing a task, frustration and drop offs will ensue. Card sorting will help you understand your user’s process in categorizing topics so you can build a better experience for them. Instead of guessing what users need, you have user research to back your approach in organizing and labeling your site’s navigation and content.

Sort Type
The sort can be physical, using note cards and paper, or electronic, using free online card sorting tools (e.g. While electronic card sorting is beneficial for remote testing and people with illegible handwriting (a.k.a. chicken scratch), being present for a physical card sort allows you to see the process in action. It may involve additional staff time, but you end up gaining more knowledge from hearing the participant’s comments and observing their behavior.

The Prep
Card Sorting 2

How do you determine what topics to include? Topics are drawn from your site’s secondary and third level menu items. Each topic is written or typed on a card, thus creating a deck of topics. While it’s tempting to include all current menu items, limit the number of cards to 30 to prevent participant fatigue. To avoid exceeding the limit, choose menu items you feel are most important and cover a range of categories. In addition, make sure the research location has a large enough table for the participant to spread out 30+ cards. Finally, recruit 7-15 participants who are potential or current users of the site. The whole process can take anywhere from 10-45 minutes, so inform participants that it will take no more than an hour of their time. If you’re having trouble with recruitment, providing incentives can help.

The Sort
Card Sorting 3

When you are ready to start, ask your participant to group the shuffled cards into categories of their choosing and label the categories using blank cards and a marker provided. They can also duplicate an existing card if they feel it needs to go in multiple categories. Let participants know there is no right or wrong answer and encourage them to share their thoughts out loud. While the participant is sorting, observe the task at hand and take notes on any interesting behavior and comments. If they ask for your input, try to turn the question around and ask them what they’re thinking. This helps minimize participant bias. Once the participant is done, thank them for their contribution and provide incentives if previously arranged. Make sure to take a picture of the final sort for future reference.

The Results
Card Sorting 4

The goal is to review all the photos of the participants’ groupings and pinpoint common language and pairings. Grouping trends form the menu structure with each group being a main menu item. The secondary menu items consist of the topics within that group. In addition, the common language used for categories can help label the main menu. The results don’t have to be taken word for word and structure for structure. However, you should find it easier to make these decisions using the results.

For more detailed information about card sorting, please visit

Term Limits for Board Members and Committee Chairs – Careful What You Wish For!

Maria Bianchi, CAE, Vice President of Client Service and Best Practice, Interel + AMG; Executive Vice President, American Ambulance Association (AAA)

About 10 years ago the American Ambulance Association (AAA) changed its Bylaws to implement term limits. There were a number of reasons for the change including little movement or change in leadership as well as a lack of candidates for AAA President (few were willing to go from committee member or Director to President-Elect). There are certain committees in our trade association that are quite powerful (government affairs and Medicare regulatory are two of them) and we had Chairs in place for over a decade. And while term limits did indeed mitigate those two problems, there were some unintended consequences.

If your Board is setting the strategic vision and policies for the industry of which it represents, many of their issues are quite complex. Policy decisions need to be based on years of background and the learning curve is steep. While having a fresh approach and a new perspective can be helpful you are also losing years of experience from those members who have been term limited out of leadership. In order to expedite the learning curve staff must build in additional time for orientation and training, including policy review.

You can also create vacancies in leadership without enough qualified candidates to fill the open positions. It means spending extra time cultivating and encouraging members to become involved with the association at the committee level; again, not impossible but certainly something to plan for and most important set aside time and talent to insure success.

Retaining key staff is a critical success factor if you move to term limits for key leadership positions. Staff and consultants can play an important role in both continuity of policy decisions and vision as well as in leadership training and orientation. If your association suffers from a high staff and consultant turnover rate, leadership longevity may be necessary and term limits counter productive.

When all is said and done, term limits can assist with a number of issues including leadership stagnation and chairmanships and positions “for life.” And for every issue that is created by term limits; there are tactics and strategies that can mitigate or eliminate completely the fallout.

One important “tonic” to the loss of volunteer institutional history is to create a past leadership council and invite term limited leaders to participate. You can also create ex-officio positions on committees and tie certain positions to certain committees. This is a wonderful way of retaining the industry knowledge and showing respect and deference towards much beloved former Board members. In with the new and elevate the seasoned should be your Board mantra!

10 Things to Consider When Planning a Hybrid or Virtual Event

Mary Pat Hanlin, Meeting and Marketing Manager, International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD)

Mary Pat Hanlin

Mary Pat Hanlin

Virtual and hybrid events allow participants who might not otherwise attend a conference or training because of costs, security concerns, or scheduling an opportunity to participate and engage. According to the American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast, 27% of all events in 2017 will include virtual or hybrid components. As your association considers adding virtual or hybrid events to your annual events calendar, here are ten things to keep in mind:

  1. Start with an Objective: Not all events have the same purpose and the objective will help share the planning of the event. Some events are meant to generate income, others are meant to provide free content to members, others are meant to showcase a sponsor.
  2. Develop a Timeline: Just like with an in-person event, developing a timeline of all tasks that need to be completed is a key to success.  If you are preparing for a hybrid event, some tasks completed for the in-person portion of the event will be the same for the virtual portion.
  3. Select the Right Technology Partner: Not all technology platforms are created equal. What works for a 50 person webinar with one speaker might not work for a hybrid conference. Do your research and figure out which partner fits your needs for each type of event.
  4. Choose Speakers Who Fit the Needs of the Event: We have all heard that content drives attendance for meetings and this is equally true for hybrid or virtual meetings. Choose content that has a broad appeal, especially if you are only offering once session during a particular time-frame. Work with your presenters in advance to make sure their presentations are engaging for both in-person attendees and those participating at home.
  5. Don’t Forget the Legal Aspects: Make sure you have the appropriate sign-off from speakers to use the content of their presentations both live and in a recorded format. Forgetting this step could be costly down the road and might prevent post-event use of the recorded content.
  6. Pricing is Key: For first-time events, consider making the event free or available at a special reduced rate to encourage participation. If using early and late pricing for a hybrid event, make your early bird deadline much later for the virtual portion than for the in-person portion as participants in this type of event tend to make purchasing decision much closer to the event.
  7. Market Early and Often: Allow plenty of time to market your event and create a marketing plan that includes items such as email marketing and social media. For hybrid events, market the hybrid portion separate from the in-person portion.
  8. Enhance the User Experience: Producing a digital or hybrid event is about more than setting up a camera and streaming out a presentation to an at-home audience. Truly successful hybrid and virtual events engage the at-home participants through chat and polling questions and allow participants to submit questions to the presenters. Consider finding a member of your association who is an expert in the content to be presented to serve as the moderator.
  9. Develop Metrics for Measuring ROI: These metrics go far beyond the dollars and cents of registration fees. Other items to consider are conversion to in-person meeting attendance, increased participation in future hybrid/virtual events, and new memberships.
  10. Repackage and Resell to Maximize Audience: Just because your event is over does not mean that your opportunity to monetize the content is also over. Recorded content can be packaged for viewing later by those who cannot attend the event live. Also, consider rebroadcasting the content and bringing in the speaker to answer questions live at a later date.


Source: American Express Meetings & Events. (2017). 2017 Global Meetings and Events Forecast (Rep.).

The Challenge Coin: Creative Currency for Associations

By: Cynthia E. Berry, Esq., Managing Director Civil Justice Reform Group (CJRG)

Challenge Coins

Cynthia E. Berry

One symbol of the bonding and camaraderie among members of the armed forces is the challenge coin – a medallion or coin that bears the insignia, motto, and/or colors that identify a particular unit or group. Traditionally, these coins are given to demonstrate membership and instill pride in those who carry them.

A familiar story about the “first” challenge coin involves an American fighter pilot who was shot down over enemy territory during World War I. He was captured by the Germans but eventually escaped. French soldiers later found him. Believing him to be a German, they planned to execute him on the spot. The American presented the French officer with the challenge coin he had received from his lieutenant prior to deployment. The officer immediately recognized the American unit’s insignia on the coin and spared the pilot’s life.

Today, challenge coins are routinely traded among military personnel. They also are presented to dignitaries as a sign of respect. If you walk into the office of a Member of Congress who serves on the Armed Services Committee or if you are lucky enough to find yourself in the Oval Office, you likely will see an impressive collection of challenge coins.

Borrowing from this time-honored military tradition, local police and firefighter units now design, present, and trade their own challenge coins. Private sector corporations have begun to embrace the custom as a way to reinforce a common purpose and identity and enhance morale among employees. For trade associations, a challenge coin could accomplish the same and more.

  • Why not distribute your unique coin to your members as a “thank you” for their commitment and participation? (It might be more cherished than a lapel pin that may be worn once, if at all, and tossed in a drawer.)
  • Why not use it to issue a membership recruitment challenge to your members? Ask each of them to give a coin to a prospective member as an invitation to join the association. (The gift will make the recipient feel like they have been asked to join a special group.)
  • Why not present the coin to honored guests and speakers at your association conferences as a “welcome” and a token of appreciation? (Chances are they will be thrilled to add the coin to their collection.)

Whether carried in a pocket or purse or displayed on a desk, the coin will be a tangible and constant reminder of your organization and its mission.

You may be thinking that it is too difficult and expensive to create a custom challenge coin. Not so! There are numerous companies that specialize in producing these coins for civilian as well as military use. They have in-house artists who can turn your general concept into a spectacular design at no charge. There is a wide array of options in terms of size, metal finish, edging, enamel colors, and the like. The cost depends on the features and quantity you select, but they are generally more affordable than you might think. You can even purchase a variety of presentation boxes and pouches. I recently used Challenge Coins Ltd. and could not have been more pleased with their design service, options, quality, and speed of production and delivery.

Take the challenge! I think you and your members will be delighted with the result.


Photo courtesy of Challenge Coins Ltd.

Getting Back to Basics with Everybody Writes | Part II: Social Media Advice

By Emily Francis, Association Administrator, Women in Government Relations (WGR)

Social Media

Emily Francis

Emily Francis

Everyone needs to get back to basics every once and awhile, and that’s what I did by reading Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes, where Handley explores just about every way you could be marketing your organization, and how to do it with better writing. I was most interested in what Handley had to say about email marketing, but another thing I really wanted some advice on was social media.

Social media: every organization has it, but we don’t always give it the attention it deserves. Handley goes into  depth about the three heavy hitters of social for organizations: Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Below are some of the more applicable pieces of advice for an association.

1. “Don’t pitch slap” – This means try not to make everything you write a pitch or a sale. Be aware of the voice your brand has, and don’t overshadow it with adding your organization’s pitch to the end of every tweet. Because you know what kind of voice you have when everything you say is a pitch? Car salesman voice. Stick with your own – I know you’re better than that.

Sarah P. just completed WGR’s leadership training program “Getting to Know Yourself,” and she’s ready to take herself OUT! #loveyourself

Notice I didn’t end that with a “REGISTER HERE (link)”. That’s because you can give your reader a break and just have personality sprinkled in with your promotions.

Note that this advice means you might have to think through your Twitter plan a little more than five minutes before you post. #thinkbeforeyoutweet

2. Use twitter as a content-idea generator. I love this explanation used in the book by author David Meerman Scott: “I use what I call a ‘writing ladder’. If a tweet resonates – it gets a bunch of RTs and @ replies – then I consider it a good blog post fodder. If a blog resonates, I’ll explore it with a riff in a speech and maybe another blog post or two. If a series of posts on the same topic resonates, that’s my next book.”

Basically, let your twitter-verse do the work for you. Write more about what your audience wants to hear! This is also a good thing to remember for the next time it’s Friday at 4pm and you just remembered that you have to schedule all the tweets for next week by the end of the day.

1. Post when your audience is online. Don’t know when your audience is online? Check your Facebook analytics, but also, FRIDAYS: “Facebook users engage with brands more on Fridays than on other days of the week, according to a recent report from Adobe that looked at 260 billion Facebook ad impressions and 226 billion Facebook post impressions from the first quarter of 2014. Some 15.7 percent of all impressions in the quarter occurred on a Friday – the most of any day. Thursday had the second highest share of impressions (14.5 percent), and Sunday had the lowest share (13.4).”

2. Post with pictures for the highest engagement, and use this size, ideally: 800 x 600 pixels.

3. Even though Facebook has a post-character limit of 63,206 characters, please, PLEASE do not use even close to that. Handley advises that limiting posts to 100-140 characters is actually the ideal length. And if you aren’t convinced, read this.

1. This is where you prove you are a thought leader. Our girl Ann says of Linkedin, “If Twitter is where you go to meet people you don’t know and Facebook is where you got to talk with people you do know, then Linkedin is where all of you can meet up to get stuff done.”

Thought leader is a great buzzword, but what does it mean? It means that you are actively sharing relevant content that is helpful and tied back to what your organization is doing or provides to people. Check out what your members are up to and share their news. If you worked so hard on that salary survey white paper, this is where you should be posting it.

2. As far as your organization’s profile goes: “use active language.”

No: Responsible for conducting program evaluations
Instead: Increased program retention rate by 30% over 2 years

In addition to using the active voice in both of these sentences (as opposed to the passive voice), the difference is also that the generic “responsible for VERB” was traded out for definitive proof. With numbers. Maybe stats isn’t your forte, but for these little bullet points, they are worth it. You want as much of your impact to come across as possible in the fewest words. Numbers help with that. Dig out your annual report if you have to.

All Handley’s tips on social come down to this: social may be easy to consume, but it’s not easy to produce. It takes just as much planning as email marketing, or any other type of marketing campaign. But it’s all worth it when your members are engaging with your content, sharing and creating new ideas!


CLICK HERE | Read Part I

Image: Unsplash / William Iven

Think Check-Ins, Not Performance Reviews

By Laura Ransone, Director of Membership & Events, Women in Government Relations, AMG Associate

Laura Ransone

Laura Ransone

 Say goodbye to formal annual performance evaluations and hello to more informal and regular check-ins. Why the move to more fluid feedback benefits not only managers and employees but also associations.

Have you heard? Annual performance reviews are dead.

But don’t fear! Their replacement comes as a breath of fresh air to all generations in the workforce—not just young professionals.

On September 4, 1998, Google was born and revolutionized the way people access information and do business. Today’s young professionals grew up in an age where they could ask, “What does Google say?” and they could have an answer in seconds. So, it should come as no surprise that the expectation to obtain instant answers is applied to many aspects of life, including performance evaluations.

Organizations are already moving toward a more fluid form of feedback. Timeframes range from quarterly, monthly, weekly, or at-large project checkpoints. The stiff corporate title “performance appraisal” has gone by the wayside and been replaced with the modern term “check-in”.

Check-ins are quick and informal, providing employees the opportunity to constantly get feedback and grow. They provide managers the ability to serve as coaches instead of managers, building a deeper connection. I find weekly coaching to be both helpful when I’m being managed and when I’m managing. A quick check-in on the status of a membership recruitment project has redirected my efforts and saved me hours of unnecessary work. It has also allowed me to grow in my position at a faster rate and helped the organization as a whole.

Last year Harvard Business Review highlighted Deloitte’s efforts to adopt a check-in format, which involved asking team leaders to hold weekly check-ins with employees. The company found that if you want employees to do their best work “in the near future,” they need to know what that entails and if they are on the right path. Most importantly, Deloitte found “a direct and measurable correlation between the frequency of these conversations and the engagement of team members.”

In addition, the Society for Human Resource Management offered up some other options for organizations to modernize their performance-appraisal processes. SHRM’s guidelines advise employers to provide examples of positive and negative behaviors, focusing on strengths more than weaknesses, and centering on the things an employee can work to change. Many organizations are no longer using a rating system, which has proven to be rigid and inaccurate depending on who is filling it out.

Associations are fast-moving vehicles. We don’t have time to slam on the breaks midway through the race to check all the systems in a lengthy review. Quick check-ins are important to make sure projects are on the right track and employees on pace. And while you may think you don’t have time to constantly check-in with employees, in the long run, this new process will be more productive and will take less time. After all, most managers meet with their staff at least once a week to cover updates on projects and tasks.

By incorporating check-ins into these meetings and giving feedback in emails when projects and tasks are completed, you can provide your employees with micro-corrections and the ability to grow at a faster and more efficient pace. Employees on their toes means engagement. A few small changes in your workplace can shift the culture to productive and on-task, creating greater employee retention and overall happiness.


This blog post originally appeared on Associations Now October 4, 2016.

The Benefits of Face to Face Meetings

By Kent Hamaker, Director of Education, Communications, and Benchmarking, Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF)


Kent Hamaker

Kent Hamaker

Association staffers do most of their work with clients via long distance methods: conference calls, emails, texts, and websites like Basecamp. These technological wonders are necessities, of course, and make possible the work we are hired to do. But amidst the overwhelming chaos of the information we have to manage we too easily forget the benefits and importance of meeting our clients face to face.

The value of meeting face to face was highlighted for me when I first traveled to a local chapter’s education event. The simple act of smiling and shaking hands with those I had been speaking with on the phone and emailing for months previous was like a homecoming of sorts. There was a feeling of solidarity and mutual support for the journey we were taking together. Since that first visit, I have tried to take every opportunity available to meet with our clients face to face, as the value has proved to be worth the cost and effort. Here are some of the advantages of face to face as opposed to long distance communication:

Face to face interaction gives you the ability to build client relationships. It helps to build camaraderie, credibility, and trust. It helps to generate a collaborative environment and generates a positive emotional environment. In a survey by Forbes that spoke to 760 business executives, 84% preferred face to face communication. Out of those, 85% said their reason was that it builds stronger, more meaningful business relationships. Respondents of the survey also said face to face meetings are best for persuasion (91%), leadership (87%), and engagement (86%).

Body Language
James Borg, author of “Body Language: How to Know What’s REALLY Being Said,” says that human communication consists of 93% body language and paralinguistic cues, while only 7% consists of words. Just like action, body language speaks much louder than words; you can gain a better understanding of how a client is feeling than through your regular means of communication.

We’ve all had the experience of misunderstanding or being misunderstood or misread on an email or online discussion. In-person meetings give us an opportunity to revisit and realign those misunderstandings while laying the groundwork for avoiding or constructively approaching future misconceptions.

For just about all of us, budgets are tight, but traveling to meet your client face to face shows them that they are worth the effort in attempting to provide exceptional service. Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts surveyed more than 2,000 men and women in the UK, US, United Arab Emirates, China, and India to dig into how the business world perceives face-to-face meetings, and the findings are positive for all meeting professionals. Here’s a look at two key takeaways:

  • • 81 percent of business professionals believe face-to-face meetings are better for building long-term trust and ensuring strong client relationships.
  • • 47 percent believe they have lost a contract or client because they didn’t make enough in-person time to develop their relationships.

My advice is to make an effort to meet with your associations’ clients face to face. You’ll have each other’s full attention and both sides are guaranteed to be heard and understood more fully. This may mean thoughtfully adjusting your budget to put funds aside for appropriate travel expenses. When doing this, try to remember that even one meeting is better than none, and the return on investment in building trust results in higher morale, productivity, and deeper relationships.


David; “Advantages and Disadvantages of Face to Face Communication;” April 15, 2013
David McMillin; “See Why Face to Face is More Important than Ever Before;” November 18, 2013;