by Lisa Cherney, AMCA Education Manager
As we prepare to flip the switch on a new year (thankfully), surely almost everyone can agree that 2020 developed into something totally unanticipated and unprecedented—in so many ways. In what now seems to be a retrospectively minor goal, AMCA planned to do 4 educational webinars—1 per quarter—with the topics generally predetermined by late 2019. Certainly, there would be a few additional programs placed on the calendar, but that seemed to be a minor detail.
Then came March of 2020 and the AMCA office’s temporary closure as of the 17th. Lights off? A closed sign hung in the window? Game over? HARDLY!
LESSON #1: Pivoting vs. Spiraling
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold worldwide, we all indeed were in a crazy spiral of trying to figure out how this affected each area of life, work, and family. If AMCA was going to be unable to deliver on our “Plan A” for quarterly webinars, then we needed to develop a “Plan B”, and fast, in order to pivot in a new direction and stay relevant.
The AMCA education team and the webinar presenters that pulled these programs together, all working remotely and around the world, rolled up their sweatshirt and pajama top sleeves and collaborated to develop an outstanding list of new and free presentations. Why? Because beyond the need for ongoing training, professional development, and education, was the intense desire for AMCA and its Members to stay strongly connected to each other during a climate of total unknowns. Spiraling would have been the result (and cause) of much anxiety; pivoting allowed us to maintain some control and stay focused on our goals and responsibilities.
LESSON #2: There is HUGE international interest for valuable professional education.
A snapshot of AMCA’s 2020 webinars:
- 33 unique, live programs
- Total webinar registrations: approx. 6,300
- Total live attendees: approx. 5,360
- Surveys completed: approx. 2,670
- PDH credits issued: approx. 6,260
- Attendees from (not a complete list):
- U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Puerto Rico
- Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
- U.K., Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine
- UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey
- China, India, Malaysia, Mali, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan
- Australia, Mali, South Africa, Zimbabwe
All of the feedback, compliments, suggestions, and corrections received from our attendees and speakers this year have honestly been appreciated. We want and need to deliver what is useful, timely, and relevant to our audiences, so please continue to share your thoughts, as it helps AMCA shape its educational offerings to you.
LESSON #3: Overwhelming responsibility or exciting opportunities?
Yes, this is largely about personal perspective, and I am sure there is some eye-rolling at that… which is totally ok. True story: Right after AMCA staff began working from home in mid-March, I recalled that we had a decent amount of presentations from previous meetings and seminars, plus with the growing AMCA Speakers Network, lining up some additional webinars did not seem too difficult. My idea was 10 “Pop-Up” webinars in 10 weeks—easy enough with prepared content and speakers working from home with a little more free time than usual, right? YIKES!
The presenters were very ready, able, and willing to volunteer. But as one saying goes: “Whether you plan a party for 20 or 200, you still have to do all the work.” In retrospect, I think I must have hit my head really hard before I made a suggestion of 10 webinars in 10 weeks, and although my coworkers did not stop me they may have wondered if they should have tried to! Twelve weeks and twelve webinars later I was the first to admit the idea was crazy and I never anticipated the workload I was creating for myself. There were many long days and nights working at my kitchen table when I was totally overwhelmed with the workload and details. I believed I could get it done (as in, have the ability to), just not always how or when I would get it done!
But I also got some really great things out of the experience:
- I have met and built strong working relationships with so many of our great webinar presenters, which I hope to grow and utilize in 2021.
- I have communicated with wonderful Members and industry professionals, and been able to get some good networking done on behalf of AMCA, all of which I plan to continue and build upon.
- My immersion in all-things-webinar-related filled me with knowledge so that I can serve as a resource to others, which is a key aspect of my job and makes me very happy to be able to assist.
- For a non-technical/non-engineer person, I’m learning a lot about AC and AM systems & subjects—interesting and kind of scary side note.
- During the process I was, and still am, very excited that we pulled off such a big achievement; this gives me even more motivation and confidence that our goals for 2021 will keep feeding our drive to provide fantastic new and beneficial educational opportunities to so many professionals.
We are grateful to and for you all, and best wishes for a safe, healthy, and successful 2021. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements about AMCA’s 2021 webinars, education modules, seminars, and other exciting developments!