Musings From the Back of the Room
Training Wheels - September 2021

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Mics have been checked, slide decks are ready, attendees are in their seats and a row of reserved signs have been placed along the back row of the conference room for VBA staff. We sit in the back for a host of reasons that include the ability to quietly sneak out to meet the next presenter, easy access to the AV staff in the case of a glitch, to observe and learn from the experts on stage, and to be available in a central location for our attendees to find us if they have a question, a need, or piece of feedback on the program. 

From the back of the room, we can observe the participants and their engagement level, their reactions to the presenters and to each other, and the general feel of the room.  There is so much to learn from these observations that help inform any small adjustments we might make at the break, whether we chose the right presenter for the topic or what might be resonating most with the audience.  It is always our goal to ensure that participants at our events take away “that one thing” or solve the “final piece of the puzzle” that has been missing all along.  We thrive off the opportunity to see, from our perch in the back, new ideas being created, new thought patterns taking place, new relationships being formed and lightbulbs going off all over the room.

We also get to see all of you on your way out of the event from the back of the room.  Much like a crowd leaving the movie theatre (remember those?), there is so much chatter about what the group has just experienced and what they liked best or what they wanted more of.  We listen to what you tell us, we see the excitement on your faces, and we hope that you take that excitement and the lightbulb moments you experienced at the event and put them into practice back at your bank.

For example, not even halfway through the week at the Virginia Bankers School of Bank Management in August, a third-year student found me in the back of the room and pulled me aside to share, “Courtney – my team may not win BankExec, but I finally understand how one decision will impact another and it is all making sense to me now.”  Lightbulb moment. 

The thing about lightbulbs is they require maintenance and replacement and now, with more modern technology, they require a recharge. Without proper attention, they will dim over time and eventually burn out. Over the past several months, there has been an abundance of opportunities to keep your lightbulbs shining bright and recharged through programs like Bank School, the CFO & Lending/Credit Conference, and the VBA Annual Convention

As we near the end of 2021, I hope you will check your lightbulbs.  Are they still burning bright or are they starting to dim out?  Do they need a recharge? We encourage you to create a maintenance plan to ensure those bulbs continue to shine bright.  Plug into the remaining VBA education and training opportunities of 2021, like the upcoming Leadership Conference, Compliance School or the Mid-Atlantic CEO Forum, and include our 2022 opportunities in your plan as you move forward.  We can’t wait to continue to observe and learn from all of you from our perch in the back of the room!