PSA Chair’s Blog, April 2024

29th April 2024 | By Joanne Lockwood

PSA Chair’s Blog, April 2024

I am pleased to share with you a comprehensive update following my recent Chair’s address at the Spring Convention, Impact!, held in London.

You can watch a YouTube video replay and review the presentation here.

Here are a few key points and initiatives that we are excited to discuss and implement.

Strong Membership Survey Response and Engagement
We are delighted to see an encouraging increase in member participation, as evidenced by the recent membership survey, which saw 129 responses—a notable improvement from last year. This enhanced engagement provides us with a rich dataset, allowing us to make informed decisions to steer our efforts effectively. Your voices are integral to shaping the future of our Association, and it is heartening to see such active involvement across different age groups and membership tiers.

My thanks go to Michelle Miles-Porter FPSA our Membership Director and Simon Raybould for their hard work in getting this delivered.

Emphasis on Building and Enhancing Value
The feedback on membership value has been mixed, and it’s clear we have areas to improve. Notably, some members feel the Association could offer more in terms of tangible benefits and reasons to upgrade their memberships. We are committed to addressing these concerns by continuously enhancing the value provided through our memberships. Initiatives such as offering CPD accreditation and improving professional development resources will help us ensure that every pound spent with your PSA membership has value. Retention remains our focus and drives our priorities.

For more information on CPD Accreditation please scan the QR code or follow this link

Focus on Community and Networking Opportunities
The core of our Association’s strength lies in its community and the networking opportunities we provide. Many of you join to tap into this vibrant network, sharing pains and triumphs, and gaining invaluable insights through peer support. Recognising this, we will intensify our efforts to bolster these networking opportunities through our regional and national events, which have proven to be highly beneficial and impactful for our members.

Improvement and Innovation in Services
Tackling technological advancements, we are excited about the launch of our new digital membership system based on the Sport:80 platform which we have nicknamed “Bob”. This will offer you a self-serve portal that will allow you to manage your profiles, renew memberships, and book events with ease.

This move not only modernises our approach but also enhances accessibility and convenience for all members. We are keen to make this transition smooth and user-friendly and we will be seeking your input to help us test it as we fine-tune this system.

I am please to announce that William Buist has been appointed by the Board to head up this significant project and will become our Programme Director. We will therefore be commencing the recruitment a new Finance Director shortly. I would like to take this opportunity thank William for all his contribution over the past 3 years.

Best Practices for Effective Collaboration and Working Together.
I would like to address a recent incident that was published on our Facebook Members Page and in several PSA WhatsApp groups. This resulted in a member of the Association withdrawing their membership, and two of our Regional Presidents feeling publicly attacked because of this.

I want to take personal responsibility as Chair of the Board by saying we, as a Board, could have done better in this – we have an ethics and safeguarding process, which didn’t fit this case effectively.

I am reminded of the aphorism “No plan survives first contact with reality” often attributed to the Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke (thanks to Sarah Fox FPSA for that quote). Whilst we had a process, it had never been tested in this way – and it didn’t work.

The result of this was that two of our valued Regional Presidents felt unsupported and upset for an extended length of time, for which I am truly sorry.  I am also mindful in this, that a member felt a lack of psychological safety and vulnerable as a result, and I am saddened and regret that we, as an Association, were not able to do better by them.

What am I/are we going to do about this?
I will be working with our Ethics and Safeguarding Officer, Jane Gunn FPSA to review our process and give clearer guidance to the Board, RPs, and members on the steps we should follow. Over the coming month or so, I will also record a video with Jane to introduce this and tackle the frequently asked questions.

I have started a conversation with Alan Stevens FPSA, who will guide our Social Media Platform moderation protocol to ensure our right to free speech is balanced with our respect for others’ ethos.
We will also extend this to managing the multidimensional aspects of Reputational Risk to individuals and the Association.

Moving forward please carefully consider these points:

  1. Clear Communication: Every successful interaction begins with clear communication. Our Speaker Confirmation Form and Speaker Application Form set out expectations and provide guidelines to facilitate a mutual understanding of the responsibilities involved in taking on a speaking engagement within the PSA. When any of us agree to speak at a regional event, we must take note of these, and treat The PSA as you would your ‘best client’.
  2. Respect for Roles: We encourage our members to exercise consideration and respect for the roles of Regional President, The Board, and other key figures at our National Events. Respect is a fundamental component that drives constructive engagement and fosters an inclusive environment.
  3. Engagement with Integrity: It is crucial that engagement at all levels, especially during disputes or disagreements, is handled with integrity and respect for differing opinions. This ensures that all parties feel heard and valued, contributing to a more cohesive community.
  4. Learning from Mistakes: The recent incident within our community has been a learning opportunity for us all. I hope to not to dwell on the past, but to strive forward with a commitment to betterment and personal accountability.
  5. Ongoing Support and Development: We remain dedicated to providing a conducive environment for learning and development. Our commitment extends beyond resolving issues to actively creating opportunities for professional growth and community building.

Please remember your social media profile and public persona reflect on you, and those who see you representing the PSA.  As an Association that has Connection as one of its core values, please be aware of the impact of your actions will have on your personal brand and people’s ability to promote or recommend you.

I will write to you again, within a couple of month, detailing the progress made on this, together with updated processes and guidance.

Open Positions and Opportunities for Involvement
As we continue to grow and adapt, we are also looking to you, our members, to step up and contribute directly to the governance of our Association. There are several key positions open, Commercial Director, Membership Director, and Finance Director, and we need passionate members who are ready to bring their creativity and drive to the table. If you have ever considered taking a more active role within the PSA, now is the perfect time to express your interest.

Please look out for an email in the next 10 days explaining the process and how to apply.

Thank you!
Each member’s active participation and commitment foster the spirit of our association. Your involvement is crucial to our collective success, and I encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunities that arise.

Let us continue to support each other, and together, we will build an even stronger professional speaking community.

Take care & Warm regards,

Joanne Lockwood

Chair 2022-2025

The Professional Speaking Association UK & Ireland.

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