Virtual Tools for Engaging Team Members and Membership

Posted by [email protected] on 12/27/2020 10:05 pm  /   Technology

October 6, 2020

“Virtual Tools for Engaging Team Members and Membership”  
by Dan Zilai and Nabila Sattar Safdar

Since March 2020, PMI Chapter Leaders have been scrambling trying to figure out a COVID-19 Response for engaging their chapter members, committees, and teams.  Since face-to-face meetings were not an option for the greater health of our membership, chapters elected to postpone in-person meetings or Go Virtual!  This article will highlight some best practices as discussed within the PMI North American Chapter Leaders virtual meetings as well as the PMI Calumet Chapter and PMI Northeast Indiana Chapter (NEIC) joint meeting held September 16, 2020. 

Chapter Leaders must have the courage to pivot and self-organize as a core competency. This became well amplified during the quarantine period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders needed to create an engaging and insightful experience which requires adopting new perspectives, tools and techniques to be master virtual hosts. 

Leadership in courageous times is tough; it is even tougher when lacking experience in creating engaging and impactful experiences. As lockdowns grew worldwide, it created opportunities for creative connections. Agility challenges all of us to adapt swiftly through empiricism. Virtual engagement presents just the opportunity. Learn by doing. A virtual presentation is simple, yet lacks inclusion and co-creation. In our professional lives, we are always optimizing equity, connection and collaboration. A chapter event can be all that and much more. It is a Community of Practitioners where each person adds value. One derived perspective, “Tools Engage / Techniques Connect.” 

Nabila’s Personal Engagement Framework outlines steps to help innovate engagement experiences:  Show Up – Take Responsibility:  

  • Be Present – Add Value
  • Be Vulnerable – Give/Get Feedback
  • Be Invested – Start Smarter Tomorrow

Scaling the framework to virtual events adds an element of empirical experimentation using tools for engaging members and participants. The framework reinforces the need to show yourself on camera, participate in discussions, provide actionable advice and create accountability to apply it in the next experience. It fosters co-creation and resilience. The continuous engagement cycle helps individuals in teams challenge each other to establish agreement to reinforce discipline. This gives team leaders or employers the realization that in person is not required. This is particularly relevant in the Agile world where teams become self-organizing and self-starting, are more motivated and confident, have trust and respect towards everyone and ownership of their successes on commitments.    

In teams, our speaker Nabila Safdar often reminds individuals that, ‘You don’t get what you don’t ask for.’ This is so true when it comes to sharpening skills among peers. It is a choice to persevere and find a way to ‘disrupt the disruption’ by creating a space to deliver sustainably.

Applying this courage to Chapter Events benefits Chapter Development with new roles and responsibilities for Technology and Social Media volunteer leaders.  Leveraging these virtual tools and techniques to engage chapter members establishes new capabilities within the chapter and makes the event planning more collaborative, in-depth and creative to orchestrate a successful and engaging event.  Whether it’s a webinar or live virtual chapter meeting, this checklist below highlights our best practices used in our PMI Calumet and PMI Northeast Indiana joint chapter meeting held on September 16, 2020 and perhaps can be useful for your chapter:

Planning virtual events

  • Selected Susan Omotosho, VP of Professional Development to find a speaker and set topic
  • Found an incredible Speaker - Nabila Sattar Safdar / created program
  • Created PDU Claim Code & worked with speaker, Nabila Sattar Safdar to determine Technical and Leadership PDUs
  • Engaged PMI NEIC President, Mike Ruiz / Decided on a joint chapter meeting to increase attendance
  • Designed event graphics with PMI rebranded logo & symbols
  • Posted event registration on new StarChapter website – register for free to get the Zoom link automatically emailed back after registration


Promoting the virtual event

  • PMI NEIC posted the event info on their website
  • Engaged Jonté Robinson, Director of Social Media – edited & posted event info on PMI Calumet social Media: LinkedIN, Twitter, Instagram
  • Promoted the Free event to PMI-Calumet members via StarChapter webmail through the website with 5 web-mailings to membership in a 3-week period
  • Promoted the event on local radio on northern Indiana 5 (WLJE) and WJOB 1230
  • Worked with Susan Omotosho, VP of Professional Development to develop a Q3 Update and YouTube promo video for the event and sent to membership along with event & registration info via webmail

Joint Chapter Meeting – Virtual Event

  • Met 1-day before the event with our speaker to test the technology and Zoom App – including capabilities for Breakout Rooms and pre-load registrant names into the Wheel of Names – minor adjustments were made and felt confident of a good program
  • PMI Calumet and PMI-NEIC started the 2-hr joint meeting with an overall agenda of:
    • 30-min Networking/Virtual Happy Hour playing PMI Trivia on Kahoot!
    • Chapter Business and Announcements for PMI NEIC and PMI Calumet
    • Speaker Introduction
    • Featured Speaker (1-hr)
    • Extended Q&A and Post-meeting networking (~30-min)
  • After Chapter business and Speaker Introduction, Nabila Sattar Safdar presented the program, “Agile Leadership in Courageous Times.” The successful program highlighted how to be a better Agile leader using advanced virtual meeting tools such as these used in program:


TABLE: Virtual Tools for Engaging Team Members and Membership

The key messages and themes presented were engaging team members, using interactive and e-learning tools, using polling to invoke team member responses, promoting interaction with team members and scheduling appointments for offline collaborative efforts.

The overall impact of demonstrating these tools showed everyone in attendance on ‘how to be an effective and engaging team in a virtual world.’ 

Post Meeting / Publishing & Archiving

  • After the Zoom session recording was concluded, it was made available for download editing
  • Positive feedback from the Zoom Chat was forwarded to the speaker and requested parties
  • Speaker presentation slides were edited into the chapter slides for saving as a PDF file and archiving on our StarChapter - PMI Calumet website under the “Members Only Area” of Past Presentations
  • Video editing was performed on the Zoom session recording– including adding titles, quotes, eliminating dead-air spots, and adding clarification and promotion slides into the video.
  • Finally, the edited session was transferred to YouTube video was also placed on the StarChapter PMI Calumet website’s “Members Only Area” of Past Presentations – look for “Agile Leadership in Courageous Times” now playing on the PMI Calumet YouTube channel


About our Authors:

Dan Zilai, PMP


Dan Zilai, MS, PMP, LSSBB

Dan Zilai is a seasoned and highly motivated Senior Program Manager working with executive leadership of Fortune 500 companies to achieve business results.  He has over 30 years of professional knowledge, hands-on experience, and a diverse industrial background in the aerospace, defense, electronics, semi-conductor, medical device, commercial vehicle and steel industries.  Dan has been a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) since 2002 and received his Project Management Professional (PMP) credential in 2006.  Additionally, Dan obtained his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt credential in 2016 from Tulsa University.  Dan Zilai is on the Board of Directors for the PMI Calumet Chapter currently serving as the Vice President of Technology and is also the CEO and Principal Consultant of ZILAI Consulting, Inc.  

Nabila Sattar Safdar


Nabila Sattar Safdar, PSM II, PSPO I, PSD I, PAL I

Nabila ( Sattar Safdar coached business agility in biotech, software, retail, non-profit, co-op, technology and academia spanning over 15 years and is driven by the passion for continuous improvement. Nabila loves to find new ways to strengthen team resilience. Nabila is a Senior Scrum Master at Do it Best Corp., Professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne teaching Project management, Information Systems Technology Strategy, Management & Acquisition and advises senior design projects. She is also the Founder & President of Nabilities, an agility & change leadership consulting firm focused on adding value using training, mentoring and coaching.  On the philanthropic side, Nabila is a board member at the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana and chairs its Diversity and Inclusion Committee.


Published in PMINSIGHT on October 16, 2020


PMI Calumet Community Outreach Event at Griffith Park - August 2019

Posted by [email protected] on 12/27/2020 9:33 pm  /   Community, Technology

August 24, 2019

PMI Calumet Chapter Shares Community Event

PMI Calumet Chapter participated in a community event at the Griffith (Indiana) Central Market on Friday, August 23, 2019.  PMI Calumet responded to an open community invitation by inviting its chapter membership and encouraged them to attend the free, family-friendly summer event and enjoy the evening.  This allowed Calumet Chapter member to also reach-out to other community organizations at the event thus fostering professionalism in the management of projects within the Northwest Indiana area.  The on-the-lawn evening in-the-park event offered live musical entertainment, a wide variety of local beverages, food trucks, artisan vendors, a new playground and walking track for a stroll through the park.  The weather was excellent and the family atmosphere venue made for an unforgettable successful event.  Chapters looking for a community outreach event should search their local venue park and recreation events where community organizations are welcome to participate.

Calumet Chapter Community Event at Griffith Park - August 2019Left-to-Right – PMI Calumet Executive Board Members: Joe Mays, Kelly Lanigan Milosavljevich, Jay Thomas, and Dan Zilai

Published in PMINSIGHT on September 6, 2019