SITE Chicago's Spark & Speak Sessions

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SITE Chicago’s Spark & Speak series – an update from Colleen Brzozowski

“Our Members shared that they missed talking and connecting with each other in random group conversations that would typically occur at networking receptions or at conference coffee breaks. We know people were connecting via phone one on one, but we wanted to virtually recreate those "hallway conversations" where individuals would come together for an organic conversation around what was happening without a lot of structure or design behind it” explains Colleen.

She continued “we saw the success of the Ideation Session during SITE Week and thought we could mirror that style for our Spark & Speak sessions. The SITE Chicago Board came together to generate 5 general topics of discussion that we felt would resonate with our Members.

Each week, one topic is highlighted during a Zoom call limited to twenty members for 1 hour (we wanted to keep the audience to one Zoom screen). We asked individual members to serve as moderator for the sessions with their role to have questions or stories ready, keep the conversation going and ensure that everyone contributed.

If the conversation naturally flowed off topic but was still relevant and engaging, we were absolutely ok with that, we simply wanted people to connect and be heard.  Other than a quick "SITE Things To Know" intro, there were no slides or formal presentations. The sessions were not recorded but we have prepared summary articles which can be accessed here:

  1. Let's talk SITE! with Lisa Crolius
  2. Be the bodyguard to your own wellbeing with Alex Bakalis
  3. The bizarre world of unemployment with Rick Hud
  4. Doing business today with Craig Dooley and Justin McCray

We asked Colleen what advice she would have for other chapters as a result of this initiative? This is what she said: “We found it really beneficial to get our Members (non-Board or in some cases even Committee Members) to serve as Moderators. This made it more of that natural "hallway conversation" rather than a programmed SITE BOD presentation which was a nice change of pace. The anonymous approach to the summary articles was a good way to capture the info and share it without making anyone feel that they were being put on the spot and being quoted for opinions that were shared ‘on the hoof’”.

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