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Behind every standing-room-only presentation, networking event, and appreciation celebration at AHIMA’s annual conference is an AHIMA staff member on the meetings team who spent countless hours planning every single second.

At AHIMA’s in-person events they are easy to spot due to their headsets and walkie talkies, calmly directing foot traffic through a massive exhibit halls and ballrooms.

This year their work is even further behind the scenes because they have the herculean task of delivering a virtual event amidst a global pandemic. But AHIMA’s meetings team never backs down from a challenge.

As AHIMA prepares to bring its members an annual conference virtual event like never before, we’re taking you behind the scenes to learn how staff and volunteers are working to create this unique and interactive show. You’ll also learn helpful navigation tips and uncover the “hidden gems” behind AHIMA20!

In this behind the scenes spotlight, Yolanda Simmons-Battle, CMP, senior meetings manager at AHIMA, shares with us what that journey was like and gives a preview what attendees can expect. You can also hear from her on the latest episode of AHIMA’s HI Pitch podcast.

Q: What is your role at AHIMA and AHIMA20?

Simmons-Battle: I am the senior manager on the meetings team and I am a member of the core team designing, producing and executing the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference.

I am responsible for the production of general session and I am working with the executive office on all board of directors activities. I am also a member of the content planning team and basically fill in wherever I am required and needed.

My favorite part is seeing the evolution of the meeting come together, from its inception with discussion and throwing around ideas, to the execution and seeing the final product come to life.

Q: What have been some of the challenges of converting a massive in-person conference into a virtual event? How has planning for this year’s conference differed from previous AHIMA conferences that you’ve prepared for in the past?

Simmons-Battle: We know that our attendees look forward to the networking in the exhibit halls—they enjoy seeing their colleagues and fellow members every year, sharing what they learned in the sessions, talking about their places of employment and what is happening in their personal lives.

It is important to try to create that same experience for the attendees so they can still feel those connections.

The conference’s virtual platform features a “social wall” that will be activated for immediate response and engagement. I believe in the virtual environment, attendees will have more opportunities to “speak” and network with other attendees through the chat function.

The advantage the virtual platform has over a live presentation is that all registrants will be able to view any session that they may have missed because it ran simultaneously with another session. So there are more opportunities for attendees to experience more content and gain additional CEUs.

The virtual platform awards users badges depending on the number of activities an attendee participates in, because who doesn’t like a good game? Depending on the number of activities that an attendee participates in, they can get a badge. All for fun and games, but that increases engagement and participation.

“We know that our attendees look forward to the networking in the exhibit halls—they enjoy seeing their colleagues and fellow members every year, sharing what they learned in the sessions, talking about their places of employment and what is happening in their personal lives.

It is important to try to create that same experience for the attendees so they can still feel those connections.”

—Yolanda Simmons-Battle, CMP, senior meetings manager at AHIMA

Q: What should attendees be most excited about in your area of the conference?

Simmons-Battle: We have some surprises up our sleeves to head off some of the “Zoom fatigue” attendees have experienced prior to conference. Registrants should assume the mindset that they will still experience great content from some exceptional speakers, will still have the ability to network with friends and colleagues in fun and adventurous ways, will have more of an opportunity to gain up to 100 CEUs post conference. There’s a lot to be excited about in this three-day conference.

Q: What are some of the hidden gems of AHIMA20 that attendees may overlook?

Simmons Battle: Some hidden gems that we can share are: the opportunity to chat with other attendees and the speakers during the sessions, being encouraged to engage and participate in various ways throughout the conference through the gamification process. Having the ability to download the content in real time, and the use of the social media wall.

Q: What advice do you have for people who may be attending a virtual conference for the first time?

Simmons Battle: My advice is to be totally present in the conference. If you can, silence your emails and your cellphones. You want to be fully present in the presentations and the chat, because if you try to multitask, then you could potentially miss a very important quote or statement that was shared and miss out on the active engagement with your fellow attendees.

Register for AHIMA20

The AHIMA20 Virtual Conference is the premier educational, exhibition, and networking event for health information professionals. Whether you are seeking cutting-edge education, evaluating the latest market innovations, or are seeking new professional connections, the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference is the place to be. Register today.

Hear from past attendees why they attend the AHIMA conference every year.

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