Business as Unusual

Business as Unusual

While we can’t meet in person, communication is still key

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AAMVA’s first multi-platform virtual Workshop and Law Institute just took place, and it was exciting to behold. With a big selection of great sessions for jurisdictions and rich opportunities to connect with our exhibitors and associate members, the 2021 Workshop and Law Institute offered substantive exchange of issues, ideas and solutions. Panelists of dedicated jurisdiction subject matter experts—supported by talented AAMVA staff and good technology—provided a renewed sense of connection to the AAMVA community.

AAMVA gatherings are on my mind a lot lately—how we gather today and what AAMVA can do to enrich your conversations, even though not in person. What seemed so temporary a year ago—restricted travel and difficulty maintaining connections—is the norm today, and AAMVA’s Board of Directors and staff are focused on making the best of what we have to keep you connected.

In looking back at AAMVA’s in-person gatherings through the lens of virtual connections, I have a deeper appreciation for the regularity of AAMVA’s meeting calendar and the fabric of new and stronger connections each gathering wove.

The depth and breadth of the unintentional encounters among conference and committee meeting attendees—whether agency leaders, program managers, field service professionals, investigators, enforcement executives, industry experts or other government and association partners—all generated new insights and exciting ideas to try back home or include in a new best practice.

In-person meetings also created a surprisingly efficient way to engage with AAMVA’s associate member community. In an exhibit hall, during a break between meetings or after hours, I am only now understanding how effective in-person meetings were in providing lots of informal opportunities to connect with lots of people all day long—it was a highly efficient way of finding out what is going on. In today’s world, we must set up calls, emails or webchats to do this, rarely as casual, personal or insightful.

Instead of gathering in person, we connect via technology (THANK YOU, infrastructure team!), and try to convey interest, compassion, curiosity and gratitude through the tone of our voice instead of the body language of our presence. Emojis are ubiquitous (…guilty)! We also have added unusual meeting behaviors, like exiting the room with the click of a button and the speed of light or waving on our way out the “door.” We even raise our hands to enter the discussion (…still practicing). I wonder how these new behaviors will translate to future in-person gatherings.

In the meantime, we teach each other new tricks and shortcuts: how to mute using the space bar, ways to change your background or your name on screen and new tools for more intimate discussion groups that break away from larger meetings, for example.

I hope our AAMVA community and the world are on our way to being fully vaccinated and protected from the virus, and that this time next year, I am writing this column on the heels of a great in-person Workshop and Law Institute and preparing for a robust AAMVA Board meeting and an exciting AAMVA Leadership Academy.

Until then…click.

– Anne Ferro

AAMVA President and CEO

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