How Association Professionals Are Using ChatGPT—and Related ChatGPT Musings

In early March, we published our first post about ChatGPT. Since then, I’ve heard many association professionals discuss how they’re using ChatGPT. Many of them are using it to jumpstart their creative process and help with time-consuming tasks. In the broader association community, some people are wildly enthusiastic about ChatGPT’s potential while others are advising a go-slow approach. As usual, the middle path seems about right. 

Whatever your personal approach, your association should be leading the AI conversation in your members’ industry or profession. But there’s only one way to really understand the potential impact, good or bad: get in there and start using ChatGPT. 

A few ChatGPT basics

You can get a free ChatGPT account or subscribe at $20/month for ChatGPT Plus. With the Plus plan, you always have access to GPT model 4, which is larger, faster, and more accurate than the free model 3.5. In your Plus account settings, you can turn on features, like web browsing and plugins. 

The quality of your prompts (what you ask ChatGPT) determines the usefulness of the results. Consider taking a class, like this Prompt Engineering for ChatGPT class at Coursera. Or check the usual online learning providers for other options. 

Keep an eye out for association community webinars about AI. Check out Sidecar’s AI community for association professionals and its newest creation, Betty Bot. Trained on Sidecar’s content library, Betty answers questions about association management. 

how association professionals are using ChatGPT

What you lose by relying on ChatGPT

Stephen King once said, “I write to find out what I think.” If you let ChatGPT do all the researching and writing for you, you miss out on thinking. It’s more difficult to retain knowledge if don’t do the work yourself. Maybe that’s not a big deal for you. But if you want to develop expertise, put in the effort. 

A WorkLife article echoes these concerns. “One growing fear is that Gen-Z workers and others early in their careers will rely too heavily on AI and won’t learn the principles of their professions… Some fear early entrants could lose or not develop those skills properly with over-reliance on AI, ultimately lowering the quality of their work.”

If you’re not confident in your writing skills, you can use ChatGPT to brainstorm ideas, identify gaps in your research, propose an outline or first draft, and provide feedback. However, don’t expect Stephen King quality writing. ChatGPT excels at generic boring content unless you become a proficient prompt engineer. 

Other ChatGPT concerns

Did you hear about the lawyer who submitted a briefing citing fake cases “hallucinated” by ChatGPT? That’s a real-life example of ChatGPT’s accuracy problem. From what I understand, it’s trained to produce the most logical answers—the best next word or phrase—but these words aren’t always true. Always fact-check its content. 

And one more thing: never provide confidential or identifying information when working with ChatGPT. 

How association professionals are using ChatGPT 

Here are examples of how association professionals are using ChatGPT, particularly those in education departments,  

ChatGPT for planning 

Ask it to generate ideas for survey questions, for example, needs assessments. Summarize open-ended responses to survey questions.

Use ChatGPT as a brainstorming bot. Provide background information and see what program topics it comes up with for different audience segments.

ChatGPT for course/program creation and delivery

Create course/program outlines and lesson plans based on learning objectives. Ask it for feedback on what you’ve developed. 

Break up a longer course into shorter programs or mini courses.

Create lesson content:

•    Lecture notes
•    Reading material
•    Role play scenarios and other exercises for applying new knowledge
•    Discussion questions and debatable statements
•    Reflection prompts
•    Practice quiz questions

Ask for feedback on student assignments.

ChatGPT for course/program management

Brainstorm ideas for event themes or anything else that requires a creative kick-start.

Ask it to generate course, program, and session descriptions based on learning objectives. Give the results to the speaker to edit and approve.

Summarize information from a speaker’s resume and other information to create a speaker bio.

Ask for help with survey and evaluation data analysis.

how association professionals are using ChatGPT

ChatGPT for marketing and content creation

Use ChatGPT to help you overcome writer’s block or offer a different perspective. 

Prompt it with information about marketing goals and ask for marketing plans or strategies for events, programs, and campaigns.

Craft member/customer personas.

Provide background information and other parameters, then ask it to create an outline or draft for: 

•    Website pages 
•    Blog posts
•    Emails
•    Marketing copy
•    Advertising 
•    Social media posts

Ask for feedback on drafts, although AI tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid are better for editing and proofing.

Use it for SEO optimization of web and blog post copy, or keyword research.

Summarize lengthy content. Ask it to extract the main points and provide a concise synopsis for newsletter blurbs, blog posts, tip sheets, and teasers. Because ChatGPT has limits to the amount of text it can process at once, you may have to divide transcripts into sections.

Other ChatGPT uses

People are using ChatGPT to draft all kinds of content. 

•    Member/customer service FAQs 
•    Job descriptions
•    Contracts, such as licensing agreements 
•    Standard operating procedures (SOPs) 

Just don’t let it have the final word. Treat its output like you would the work of an inexperienced college intern. 

It can also translate from one language to another and generate HTML code. 

Imagining your association’s future with ChatGPT

Become fully versed in ChatGPT’s potential and limitations so your association is positioned to lead the AI conversation in your industry. Find out about other AI tools too. Hundreds are listed in directories like Future Tools and Futurepedia. Your association can provide a valuable member service by becoming an AI tool curator for members. 

Inspired by Sidecar’s Betty Bot, association professionals are talking about creating their own generative AI tool—and your association should too. After training it on association and industry information and data, you could use it to develop association content, serve as a knowledge base for members and staff, or sell access to its data. 

You can bet there are companies in your industry who are already thinking about this—or already doing it. But are they the best ones for this role? Your association is the natural choice to lead the conversation on AI and help guide your industry in this new AI-powered world.

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