President’s Message – November 2017

Bylaws – your questions answered

Bylaws are sexy… they are getting the attention they deserve” – Grant Ainsley, National Director, Town Hall meeting Nov 9, 2017 time 7:57pm.

Thank you CAPS members for your bylaw questions on the proposed recommendations of the board. Since you have received the draft bylaw on November 1, 2017, many of you have emailed me directly, or participated in the Town Hall, which took place November 9th. On behalf of the National Board, we apologize for the Town Hall session conflicting with two chapter meetings. Trying to coordinate Board schedules around the various CAPS commitments was a challenge.

As a response to some members who would have liked to attend, you still can listen and be heard. Options:

  1. Listen to the Nov 9th Town Hall recording. (Unfortunately for all of us, it only records who is talking)- with 30 on the call, well most people had to be muted and asked questions via the chat box.);
  2. Read commonly asked questions received from members with National’s perspective response (below);
  3. You are still welcome to email me directly with any questions and/or comments you may have at [email protected]

WE hope you find reading the answers to questions posed by your fellow CAPS members will provide you with more context and the information you need to vote for the motions put forward on the proposed bylaw on Dec 10 at 7:15am – at the Ottawa convention.

Watch – CAPS Town Hall Video

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Download Video – MP4

Download Audio – MP3
(30 MB)

Members Q & A

1. How will the new membership criteria affect our brand? Or how will we be perceived in the market?

A major impetus for making these changes was to strengthen the CAPS brand, particularly with veteran professional speakers. There is more and more competition in the marketplace serving emerging speakers, but no one serving the more experienced veteran speaker the way CAPS can and should. While we still see CAPS playing a role in helping emerging speakers learn about the business of speaking and helping them grow their business, we see this shift as the start of a process that will strengthen our brand as the home for experts who speak and for experts who have a message to monetize.

2. Why set a revenue target? Aren’t there other ways to measure professionalism?

No one would ever suggest that revenue is the final measure or the only measure on what contributes to someone being a professional. However, we are first and foremost an association that focuses on the business of speaking – providing learning, sharing, growing and belonging opportunities for solopreneurs and small business owners who earn a living by monetizing a message.

And unlike other professions, we do not have a degree, government-sanctioned licensing body, or any other formal means (other than our internal Certified Speaking Professional accreditation) of establishing a minimum level of professionalism.

3. Isn’t $50,000 as a minimum entry point for professional speakers too ambitious, particularly in some provinces that can’t demand the same fees for speaking as others? Is this new minimum perhaps even elitist?

It’s simply about defining a minimum level of professionalism, not at all about being elite.

We do not view it as too ambitious at all. The standard has not been raised in 20 years, and has been debated for at least 15 of those years! And if you take no other factor other than inflationary forces into consideration, $25,000 is approximately $36,000 in today’s dollars.

In fact, the Task Force considered recommending an even higher target, but decided, based on our member surveys, provincial diversity, what’s happening in the marketplace and other speaking associations, that $50,000 is a reasonable entry-level to qualify for professional member status and to receive the benefits of being a CAPS professional member.

The new entry point will send a message to professional speakers who currently do not belong to CAPS, meeting planners, speaker bureaus, and potential clients searching for professional speakers that the CAPS brand means more now than ever.

We see strengthening our requirements as a means of helping retain experienced members of the speaking profession and help us be recognized as the place for professional speakers to call home.

Finally, many, if not most, professional associations have very stringent guidelines for admission that in most cases goes far beyond the changes we are proposing.

Please keep in mind that we simply cannot be all things to all people – focussing and strengthening our brand will help ensure our long-term viability as the home for professional speakers.

4. Is $50,000 yearly speaking earnings not also required to become a Certified Speaking Professional?

It’s part of the CSP process, but we do not view that as necessarily a bad thing – why would we not want to raise the bar for professional speakers and encourage people that are close to qualifying for their CSP as a standard for membership? A matter of fact, when members apply on our new application form, they will be asked if they intend to qualify for the Certified Speaking Professional designation (CSP) in the next 2 to 5 years.

And there still are fundamental differences – to apply for a CAPS professional membership, you only need to demonstrate earns of $50,000CDN for the previous year. This will put a new member on track to earn the CSP designation, where they are required to demonstrate a five-year proven business track record earning $50,000 USD, along with additional rigid qualifying criteria.

5. How will we meet the needs of emerging speakers, or do we feel no responsibility to them?

We do feel a sense of responsibility. The more successful speakers are the better for all of us. To serve the gap, we propose creating a first class, nation-wide speaker school, delivered primarily through an e-learning program in tandem with some element of live programming. The focus of the e-learning program will assist emerging speakers that have started their speaking careers but do not yet qualify for professional membership status.

The e-learning school will serve as a marketing and recruitment tool. Participants will be allowed and encouraged to attend local chapter meetings. It will also be a recurring, continual source of ongoing revenue shared between CAPS national and the chapters, and help alleviate some of the volunteer hours currently directed towards the existing speaker schools.

This school will ensure everyone; coast-to-coast gets the same consistent level of training. There is another huge opportunity, many speakers do not live in urban areas (where our Chapters primarily exist), and have yet to become involved with CAPS as they cannot make it to the monthly meetings. The e-learning programming option can provide revenue and invest in emerging speakers, so they do not feel alone.

The e-learning school will build on the success of the current speaker schools, particularly the work pioneered by Patricia Morgan and others in the Calgary Chapter.

And don’t forget – the speaker school is also available to current members as well, so it will be a great resource for many of our existing professional members!

6. Will Chapters still be able to run their speaking schools?

The intent is once the new first-class e-learning program is up and running, it will replace the schools that are presently running. This will allow all members and non-members to get access to the same program. As it stands, only some members nearby a school can get access due to geography.

However, creating an e-learning school/academy will take time. The goal is to launch January 2019, so until further notice all existing Chapter programs are welcome to continue to run and provide this valuable insight to emerging speakers. The National Board will keep Chapter leadership fully abreast of when the new program will launch.

7. The new language describes potential members as “anyone who has a message to monetize using the spoken word to groups of three or more.” Why would someone who provides e-learning be considered a candidate for CAPS but not necessarily someone who does one-on-one coaching?

There are two fundamental differences. First, e-learning suggests a tie-in to the “message to monetize” brand that’s not a part of traditional one-on-one coaching. Secondly, there is an element of stagecraft and delivery skills using the spoken word with e-learning programs that are not a part of traditional coaching.

8. How will we deal with any potential loss of membership numbers?

It is our firm belief that membership numbers will not drop off more than they typically do – the hope is that we will improve membership retention amongst the veteran speakers and attract more qualified professionals.

Remember, these changes are not being suggested or made in isolation – by strengthening our branding and outreach, improving how we onboard new members and engage new and existing members, and by broadening the definition of our members to include anyone who has a message to monetize through the spoken word, we feel we can sustain or build our ranks as we continue to strengthen our brand in time.

CAPS typically loses from 60 to 90 members a year. We typically gain 60 to 85 members a year. We experience the highest attrition with members under five years, which is why we created the Expert Accelerator Series 1.0. However, over the last five years, we have seen an increasing decline in tenured members, because some no longer feel they belong. We need to create an association where members who have been speaking, also feel they belong. Without retaining experienced members, emerging members will not see value in membership.

If, however, membership levels were to decline, then we will make the necessary adjustments to ensure we continue to operate in a fiscally sound and sustainable manner.

9. What would you say to a member who says they would no longer qualify for membership under the new criteria, so now it feels like they no longer belong?

It is important to remember that everyone, including current Candidate members, will be grandfathered in under the existing at the time in which you joined CAPS, which means it is important that everyone still feels like they belong and are a part of the CAPS family – nothing has changed in that regard. This is about being forward thinking, embracing our mandate as being the preeminent home for experts who speak, and positioning ourselves for the future, not about leaving anyone behind.

10. I like the increase in the qualifying amount and the removal of it requiring a certain number of presentations. What I do not see is any requirement to demonstrate an area of expertise. Is it assumed that if they are making $50,000 that they have an area of expertise? Or is that covered in the application process?

Yes and yes. If an applicant is making $50,000 speaking, it is assumed that they have value and expertise. However, we are also in the processes of changing our application process. We will learn more about a new member, including their area of expertise.

Thank you all for your questions. We hope that these answers provide context to the proposed bylaw changes and the intention to continue to grow and sustain our association while being the home of experts who speak professionally.

We look forward to evolving together!

We care, like you care, about the CAPS community.

Suzanne F. Stevens, CSP
2017 National Board