Archive for April, 2020

Virtual Events: Strategy Before Execution

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

My mother used to tell us that “things are going to be different” as we drove home from our annual summer beach vacation. It was her way of getting the family focused on the upcoming routine and discipline of school and work. I remember feeling that her words were both a warning and a promise of adventures yet to come.

That lesson is easily applied to the challenges that lie ahead for associations considering alternatives and augmentation of their future live events. While live events are likely to rebound, they will likely look and feel different—and virtual events are most certainly going to play a larger role.

Strategy—and Transparency—First

Our inboxes are suddenly full of marketing emails from companies touting their virtual platforms. Associations must make smart decisions in selecting providers. But I’d argue that it’s not about the platform alone.  It is the strategy around going virtual that is far more critical, just as creating your objective—the why behind an event—is most important for live programs.

It also seems like every organization is trying to keep their brands relevant by offering virtual content to members and customers. I fear that “webinar fatigue” is quickly setting in. Senior leaders are not going to engage in webinars longer than an hour if at all.

As you develop a virtual-event strategy, be mindful of creating fresh content or perspectives and avoid the same old formats. No one wants to waste his or her time on a virtual event that is primarily a commercial for products and services. I’ve seen several webinars that have been advertised as providing content, but were basically bait-and-switch events designed to generate leads. It’s fine to offer resources (either free or fee-based) but don’t obfuscate your message or impact by immediately reaching out to participants with marketing messages.

Five Steps to Success

Following are some lessons we have distilled from talking with dozens of clients and attending many recent virtual events:

  1. Have a clear strategy
  2. Engagement is necessary
  3. Deliver timely and relevant content
  4. Establish metrics and measurements
  5. Offer additional resources

Refer to this short, recent video, in which my colleague Sarah Michel offers some practical suggestions for making your virtual events successful.

What steps have you taken when designing your virtual event? If they are here to stay, why?

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Leading During a Pandemic: Management From a Distance

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Workers’ increasing comfort with remote work and videoconferencing will outlast COVID-19, says PMI CEO Sunil Prashara. That’s good news—and a warning sign.

These are disruptive times for associations, their staffs, and members. But a month of learning new ways to connect and communicate does have some benefits, according to Sunil Prashara, president and CEO of the Project Management Institute. We’re more attentive, and doing more: “What we’ve found is that productivity levels have gone through the roof,” he says, on a video call last week, and he credits that productivity to the new everyday work culture of video calls.

But that newfound productivity only comes thanks to some particular actions at the leadership level. And in some ways, the new culture surfaces up new challenges for leaders. Here are a few of his thoughts on what leading teams looks like now, and what the people in charge should be alert to.

Gone are the days of doing a conference call for the sake of having a status update.

People are more focused now. Now that our colleagues are all floating heads on screens, the usual means of reading body language and other social cues aren’t as available to leaders. But it may not be as necessary for the moment, Prashara suggests. “There could be 30 people watching, but I’m just seeing you’re face and you’re just seeing my face—therefore, it’s a bit more intense,” he says. “There’s more of a likelihood that you’re going to be listening a little bit more attentively.”

A leader can put that newfound focus to use, Prashara says. “With that intimacy comes a sense of ownership. If you can convert that into a sense of ownership and a sense of purpose and a sense of mission, then you don’t have to manage as hard.”

But that focus only sustains itself if meetings have a clear purpose. Save the everyday check-ins for emails. “Gone are the days of doing a conference call for the sake of having a status update,” he says. “Most of the calls I’m on, they are ones where there’s something operational happening and we have to make a decision.”

The nature of videoconference discourse is different. Brainstorming and strategy sessions don’t work the same way now. (For more on that, see my post last month on virtual board meetings.) That means sidebars and discussions—and arguments—have to give way to a more patient kind of conversation. “It’s very difficult for people to talk on top of each other because the system can’t handle it,” he says. “People will give people the opportunity to finish a sentence before they talk and etiquette starts to get creative. You don’t even have to define it—it starts to happen.”

But that new discourse will press managers to receive input differently, and with more patience. “There is no parallel processing anymore. It’s all done in serial.”

We may be sticking with this. Which may be a problem. Associations, which often rely on conferences and events for much of their livelihood, are understandably eager for the moment when it’s safe to get together in person again. But Prashara warns that when that moment arrives, many people will be in no particular rush to convene. “There’ll be some things we are doing now that we will take into the new work ecosystem,” he says. “We’ll ask ourselves, Do we really need to have offices everywhere, and do we need to travel as much? We’ll be doing a lot less travel, and we’ll be interacting differently. In the past, if we had a chapter that asked to attend, I would say, ‘I can’t because I’m on my way to Paraguay to visit a chapter there.’ Now, I can say to four chapters on the same day, ‘As long as the timing works, I can attend all your events.’”

Prashara recognizes that the benefits in terms of connection now the bottom line at risk. That means leaders are charged now with thinking about what expansion looks like for your ranks. “Project management is too small for what it is that we do now,” he says. “We are now addressing change makers. Companies are going to look for people who can convert an idea and make it a reality. There are 44 million project managers out there that we can influence and enable, but when you look at change makers, the market is actually 750 million. Our sphere of influence is just increased a hundredfold because of what’s happening.”

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National Volunteer Week: Associations Say Thanks During a Strange Time

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Groups big and small are giving their volunteers a big shoutout this week in honor of National Volunteer Week, with many crediting those volunteers for helping even when stuck at home.

In a lot of ways, the important work that volunteers do never stops when it comes to associations. Whether those volunteers are board members, advocates working in their free time, or those who help out at events, their services keep associations running.

And that remains the case when a viral outbreak puts the world in a topsy-turvy state. With that in mind, here are just a few of the associations honoring their volunteers during this year’s National Volunteer Week:

School Nutrition Association. Schools around the country don’t have students going to them, but the nutrition part of the School Nutrition Association’s mission remains essential as its members navigate COVID-19. In a message to its volunteers, SNA President Gay Anderson praised the volunteers: “Whether during normal times or the current times we are in, you guys are the heart and soul of our association, and we so appreciate your volunteerism.”

American Farm Bureau Federation. In a statement on its website, the federation’s senior director of member engagement, Robin E. Kinney, noted that its volunteers work year-round, “giving unconditionally of their time and commitment and using their talents to enrich the lives of others.” However, she emphasized that the group’s volunteers have picked up the pace even more in recent weeks. “In the face of the historic coronavirus pandemic, these volunteers continue meeting the needs of others in new ways as they repurpose food, sew masks, and organize appreciation events while continuing to fulfill roles they volunteered for when life was moving at its ‘normal’ hectic pace,” she said.

National Glass Association. “During these times, so much of the news is negative that we thought we would share something positive,” said NGA Chair Chris Bole in a video highlighting the group’s volunteers, including those who serve on committees. “We could not operate without your efforts and without your expertise,” he added.

ALS Association. In a video created for National Volunteer Week, the ALS Association gathered its board members to discuss the ways that the disease has affected them and their loved ones and why that encourages them to volunteer. “Each of them were inspired by personal connections to ALS and are committed to do whatever it takes to continue our momentum in the fight—especially during a global pandemic,” the association states on its website.

Humane Society of the United States. With more than 2,000 active volunteers in its organization and upward of 90,000 volunteer hours last year, the Humane Society noted that its volunteers are assisting with efforts such as checking in on animal sanctuaries and keeping an eye on wildlife markets even during the COVID-19 crisis. “During the coronavirus pandemic, despite their own personal and professional challenges, they are stepping up to help us at a time when we need their help the most, with more dedication and determination than ever before,” said president and CEO, Kitty Block, in a blog post.

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Daily Buzz: Avoid Online Meeting Madness

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

How to decide who speaks—and who goes next—during virtual meetings. Also: Pick the right association management software on your first try.

Meetings are most productive when everyone has the appropriate amount of time to speak. Virtual meetings are no different, but the digital setting means hosts need a different approach to managing the conversation.

“Determining who goes next during an online meeting discussion poses additional challenges to those of a face-to-face meeting,” says Adrian Segar of Conferences That Work. “That’s because we don’t have all the signaling options that are possible when all participants are physically together.”

In an online setting, a round-robin meeting won’t work. Instead, have the meeting’s facilitator choose who speaks next.

“For a small group, the facilitator’s memory may be sufficient to keep track of who has spoken and who hasn’t,” Segar says. “Alternatively, meeting platforms generally allow the host to display a list of participants, and the facilitator can use a screenshot of this list to invite and track who goes next.”

If everyone in the meeting has a webcam, the facilitator can also have participants raise their hands when they have something to say. Then, the facilitator says aloud who will speak next. Just don’t forget mobile users.

“If you have a few people on phones, the facilitator can check in with them periodically, asking if there’s something they want to contribute,” Segar says.

Meeting platforms such as Zoom even have a “raise hand” button that alerts the host.

AMS Selection for First-Timers

You may only go through an enterprise software buying process a few times in your career. Here’s a guide for first timers – #assnchat #AssociationAnswershttps://t.co/BTDDbRWa5i

— Protech Associates (@protechcloud) April 20, 2020

When choosing new association management software, you might not know where to turn. To get a clearer picture, the AMS selection process should begin with information gathering, says Brian Smith, business development representative at Protech Associates.

Pick a few colleagues to create an AMS selection committee—they’ll be the ones leading the charge. From there, work to gather information on top AMS vendors and what your association needs from the software.

“Have stakeholders from each key department add their system ‘must haves,’ and use the list to help narrow your field of options,” Smith says.

Other Links of Note

Have an audit on the horizon? Blue Avocado breaks down what nonprofits need to know.

To turn your business idea into a startup, you need a clear and realistic plan, says Martin Zwilling oin Business Insider.

Looking for new ways to host virtual events? Event Manager identifies 10 cool ideas from around the event industry.

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Steps You Should Be Taking Now for Your Fall Conference

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

This is the fourth in a series of blogs posts, written collaboratively by our team, which uncover lessons learned in advising dozens of our clients on their events in the time of COVID-19. Although each situation has its own unique issues, we hope you find nuggets to help you with your disruption response and planning.

Over the past couple weeks, conversations with our clients have shifted from crisis decision-making for conferences occurring in the near-term (reactive) to scenario planning for the fall (proactive). While there is still significant uncertainty for the health and safety of mass gatherings, those of you with your major events in Q3 or Q4 have a little time for weighing your options.

Scenario and Contingency Planning

In our Conference Go/No-Go Decisions in a Pandemic post, we provided a framework for scenario planning. Many have taken this to heart and are working on at least two plans. Here’s what some of them include:

  1. Buying Time. Some events in Q3 are exploring options for postponing to Q4. 
  1. Resetting Expectations. Quite a few corporations and universities have instituted travel bans and/or are making major budget cuts. Conferences with strong global participation are expected to be more regional in the near-term. Many people don’t believe that mass gatherings will truly recover until after a vaccine is widely deployed. The most common projection made by our clients is that their fall event will be 50% of what was expected for both revenue and in-person participation. 
  1. Plan for Hybrid. Any association that wasn’t live-streaming or capturing and scheduling replays of premium conference content is doing the research now to add this capability to their fall event. While many want to be pointed to a list of service providers or virtual business models, we’re finding that the solutions our clients are often short-listing include the technology and solution providers they are already working with, i.e., abstract management software, mobile app, floor plan management solution and webinar platform. 
  1. Education Experience. One positive outcome of this crisis is a greater focus on quality over quantity of education sessions. When all is clear we’ll be seeing more large-group experiences designed to rally the industry. Everyone is planning to add late-breaking topics to help their profession recover and evolve. Many are holding off on speaker invitations until there is more positive news of the country reopening. 
  1. Risk-free Participation. Any event that does move forward in 2020 will need to revisit their attendee and exhibitor cancellation and downsizing penalties. Most of our clients are waiving all risks for this year. 
  1. Virtual Contingency. For the most part, the elements in your hybrid plan can also be the main attraction of your virtual offering. The best plans we’ve seen for virtual do not just shift from in-person to digital. The education content should be significantly streamlined and delivered in digestible bursts. Don’t expect a virtual exhibit hall to deliver results. We have seen zero success stories for virtual expos.

Good-Faith Adjustments

If you are planning to move forward with your fall conference, now is the time to notify your hotels, convention centers and service providers of your lower expectations. Some planners don’t want to make a downward adjustment without confirmation from the hotel that the performance clauses are being forgiven. It could be months before a hotel is able to make that determination. While we’re not lawyers, we believe making good faith adjustments early-on puts you in the best position for Renegotiating Live Event Agreements When All Parties Are Innocent Victims.

Good partners will lower the room block and release meeting space you don’t plan to use, sooner rather than later. By doing so, inform the hotel that you want to make sure that they have available inventory for other groups that may be postponing their dates.

What advice would you add for organizers with fall conferences or shows?

Other Posts in this Series

Leading Through the Pandemic: Generosity + Empathy = Future Brand

Conference Go/No-Go Decisions in a Pandemic

Renegotiating Live Event Agreements When All Parties Are Innocent Victims

The post Steps You Should Be Taking Now for Your Fall Conference appeared first on Velvet Chainsaw.

How the Events Industry Is Coming Together Amid COVID-19

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Despite the large economic hit the meetings sector is dealing with due to coronavirus, industry professionals, venues, and organizations have still found ways to support one another and their communities.

I don’t know about you, but some days it can be overwhelming to read about COVID-19 and the impact it is having on people and industries around the world. That’s why this week I wanted to share some stories about how the events industry is coming together in these tough times to support one another and their communities. Here is a look at a few of them:

Celebrating virtually and globally. Earlier this week, close to 11,000 industry professionals came together for Global Meetings Industry Day: Virtual. The daylong, worldwide event focused on education, inspiration, and networking in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 12-hour event, hosted by Meeting Professionals International, connected members and nonmembers with personal and professional education, panel discussions, and conversations on recovery and meeting together again. The program was delivered across the globe simultaneously and translated into local languages.

“The ability to connect in a meaningful way and generate professional opportunities is critical to leading our economic recovery, perhaps now more than ever,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI, in a press release. “This was among the most powerful experiences we have ever delivered to our industry. It was truly awe-inspiring and very emotional to see the overflow of passion verbalized via chat dialogue from our amazing community of professionals.”

Housing front-line workers. Last week, the American Hotel & Lodging Association announced that more than 15,000 hotels had signed up for its new initiative—Hospitality for Hope—which identifies properties that have offered to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers as the public health crisis grows. While the program primarily focuses on housing for healthcare workers, some hotels could potentially be used for other purposes, perhaps as emergency hospitals or places for those quarantined to stay. Hotel chains like Marriott and Best Western are also helping front-line workers with free and discounted rooms.

Donating food to local communities. In addition to housing, the industry is donating food from canceled events to those in need. For example, Caesars Entertainment provided 250,000 pounds of food, the equivalent of about 208,000 meals, to food banks and charities nationwide. As a result of canceled events at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, food service provider Centerplate donated more than 1,000 pounds of food to local organizations. And the Pennsylvania Convention Center and its Aramark partners donated 800 pounds of perishable food items to Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and the Valley Youth House’s Achieving Independence Center for distribution to individuals and families in need.

Lending a helping hand. The Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association’s COVID-19 Hospitality Workers Relief Fund provides gift cards for local grocery stores and pharmacies to hotel employees who have been furloughed or laid off. Similar efforts are also underway in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

If you have other stories about how the industry is banding together, please share them in the comments below.

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How Events Are Leveraging Creativity As They Go Virtual

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

From creating virtual tradeshows to turning a three-day event into a multi-week offering, event planners are getting experimental as they go virtual.

The current time requires more than a little improvisation just to keep things moving.

And sometimes, that improvisation can turn out to be something of a creative shot in the arm. In the case of their events, organizations have been willing to try lots of new things in an experimental form to help ensure that their members can benefit, even if it’s not the same thing as a person-to-person experience.

A few notable experiments have managed to stick in recent weeks. Among them:

Building a virtual expo hall. The Toy Association, which puts on two Toy Fair marketplaces annually, has taken those events virtual by putting on a series of digital “seven-day market weeks” that will help toymakers show off their wares through a number of virtual events. In a recent news release, the association noted that the structure would allow virtual attendees to browse exhibitors by category, take part in educational sessions, and take appointments with vendors—just like at any traditional tradeshow. (The group says the virtual shows will supplement, not replace, its existing events.) “Our aim is that Toy Fair Everywhere provides the industry with the much-needed opportunity to connect and engage from afar while continuing to make essential headway for their businesses to forge ahead in the current climate,” explained Marian Bossard, the association’s executive vice president of global market events. The first virtual event will take place starting July 13.

Boosting engagement with news customers. In recent years, news publishers have found success by building events businesses that help expand on their coverage. Why can’t that work online? As Digiday notes, many of these publishers, such as the Texas Tribune, have taken steps to set these events up virtually. The Tribune’s CEO, Evan Smith, noted that the nonprofit had already incorporated livestreaming elements into its approach and was expanding on those elements. “We’ve seen no disruption in revenue to this point,” Smith told the outlet. “It’s early, so I’m not foreclosing on the option for disruption, but it’s looking good.”

Stretching out the event digitally. The Brewers Association’s Craft Brewers Conference was supposed to be a three-day event in San Antonio, Texas, this month. Instead, it’s now a five-week program with offerings throughout the month—40 total seminars over five workweeks. Notably, the virtual event has been made free by the association. “Since we’re all social distancing and getting our share of screen time, CBC Online is an opportunity to invest in your education, so that when the dust finally settles, you will emerge stronger and smarter than ever before,” the conference website states. “We promise you’ll leave with some great new ideas to bring to your job.”

Developing educational opportunities, even for nonmembers. Around the country, the Girl Scouts are taking steps to help students remain active and earn badges. And if you don’t have a membership? No big deal. The Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, for example, is offering its services to members and nonmembers alike, including by offering a virtual patch program to nonregistered scouts. “We want them to know that in the midst of all that’s going on, they can still learn and grow, and have fun at home while doing it,” said Tiffiny Griffin, the group’s vice president of programs, to The News-Herald.

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How the COVID-19 Crisis Is Accelerating the Shift to Online Member Engagement

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Associations that focus on changing up traditional member engagement are more likely to succeed during—and after—the turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report.

By now we all know everything has changed—in a big way—because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it’s time to figure out how to best navigate these waters to come out more successfully on the other side.

The Strategic and Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Associations, a report published last month by Association Laboratory, Inc., points to a shift from traditional membership models to more digital ones. The data backs it up: 57 percent of association leaders said they are expanding investment in online education, 52 percent are looking into virtual conferences, and 62 percent plan on shifting content to a digital platform.

Dean West, FASAE, president and founder of Association Laboratory, said associations have been exploring digital relationships with members for years, so it’s not a new concept. But the trend is being accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report recommends a broader approach to engaging members beyond the static framework of singular face-to-face meetings. In the future, West said, it will be more important to combine face-to-face meetings with other association programs to give members a more holistic experience that includes local, national, and online activities. Connecting those dots, where the sum of the association’s parts is greater than its whole, will be “the next evolution of the association business model,” he said.

Specifically, associations will need to:

  • understand how attendees use face-to-face events relative to other forms of engagement
  • use pre-meeting activities to build excitement before face-to-face events
  • give attendees access to content following events so they can present the information to their teams when they return

The goal is to create pathways through membership programs and services—beyond traditional product silos like education, meetings, and advocacy—that will incentivize members as they move from path to path in their experience with the association.

In the short term, West offered three tips for association leaders as they navigate the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Don’t panic. “Take a deep breath and don’t do something stupid. Because three years from now, your board is going to look back at whatever you’ve done with a very different eye.”

Look for opportunities. “You can’t look at a crisis only as a threat. You have to consider it as an opportunity to create energy toward strategic change, because we know the crisis will eventually subside.”

Set priorities and assess results. Prioritize programs based on how many members are served, how much each one costs, and what the return on investment is. Then make the tough decisions to drop the ones that are not cost effective or worthwhile. “It’s not that the individual programs aren’t important,” West said. “It’s that those individual programs do not affect a member’s decision to join or to retain.”

The report points out that the association community is known for its ability to quickly mobilize in the face of crisis. “We’ve been through this before with 9/11. We all thought no one would ever attend a meeting again,” West said. “Two years later, the meetings industry was booming.”

The difference between 9/11 and the current crisis, he noted, is that COVID-19 is much more wide-reaching, and no one knows how long the uncertainty will last.

In spite of the daunting challenges and economic impact of COVID-19, West sees a silver lining: Every day associations are discovering that they have both the capacity and the capability to do things differently and more successfully. And the crisis has generated a tremendous opportunity to experiment with new strategies and get rid of things that have not provided value for many years.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you just have to prove to yourself that you can do it.”

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Four Suggestions to Strengthen Your Remote Employees’ Security

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

As associations take their work remote, it’s becoming increasingly essential to have security strategies in mind that account for local Wi-Fi access and personal devices employees might not otherwise bring to the office. Here are some strategies to consider.

With more staff  than ever working outside of the office, the attack surface is in many ways both larger than ever and outside of your control.

Which can be a huge problem if you don’t have a plan to manage things remotely and keep users’ data safe in an array of environments. Some of the best solutions involve guidance; others involve strengthened security.

Read on for a few tips to keep remote employees secure in a home environment:

Multifactor authentication matters more than ever. If your organization once saw your office’s security mechanisms as a useful way to ensure that only approved people would be able to access a platform, a change in location basically ensures a change in dynamic. As CIO notes, now is a good time to take steps to strengthen security, particularly when it comes to multifactor authentication, such as smartphone apps like Google Authenticator or even physical keys.

Get your employees to secure their routers. An open Wi-Fi network is the kind of bad news that can let in bad actors, especially in relatively tight environments such as apartment complexes where neighbors are separated only by single walls. The security firm Kaspersky recommends both ensuring that your users’ Wi-Fi passwords are set, as well as ensuring the router itself has its login information changed. “If you have never changed the login and password required to enter the router settings, do so now,” the company explains. “The default passwords for many models are not only too weak, but also known across the Internet and easily searchable.”

Discourage the use of personal devices for work purposes. In an article for Security Boulevard, writer Francis Dinha notes that the use of computing devices at home often means that users could be taking a more lax approach to using their personal machines on the job—which can create security problems down the line, especially if they’re letting others use their laptop or desktop machine. “Now that those personal devices are connected to your company network, it’s important that they understand: It’s time to treat every device like it’s a company device,” Dinha writes. “Set a clear protocol in place, with potential discipline if that protocol isn’t followed, that no one is to share their devices with anyone outside of the company. Make sure you communicate these expectations clearly with your team.” If you’re giving them work devices, you should take steps to bar them from using their personal devices to get on the corporate network.

Discourage the use of external media. A recent guidance document from the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre notes that USB drives can lead to the theft of data or even potential malware infection. “USB drives can contain lots of sensitive information, are easily misplaced, and when inserted into your IT systems can introduce malware,” the agency states. The guide recommends that organizations only allow storage devices that have been explicitly allowed by the organization itself.

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How to Look Your Best When Videoconferencing

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

As we move into the new normal of remote work during the COVID-19 crisis, we are spending more time on video calls than we have in the past. Two experts offer tips for ensuring your visuals look top notch.

In this time of social distancing, many association staff are meeting with colleagues, members, and others virtually with teleconferencing. While being able to see people online is fabulous, it’s important to look professional to ensure you get your message across.

“We are so used to doing things by phone that we don’t think about the visual impact,” said Sheri Singer, founder of Singer Communications. “The visual becomes part of your message, and you don’t want the visual part to distract from what you’re saying.”

Singer and Kiki L’Italien, CEO and host of Association Chat, offered tips for work-from-home videoconferencing. (Images are courtesy of Associations Now‘s Julie Shoop, who reports having a great time taking bad photos of herself.)

Lighting. When at home, many enjoy sitting near a window. Great in person, but not on camera. “They look like they’re in the Witness Protection Program; you can’t see them,” said L’Italien. “The light source should be behind the camera, so you are facing it.” If you have the inclination, L’Italien prefers ring lights and she recommends using three-point lighting: where light hits your face, and also comes at you from both the left and right.

Background. Got books on the shelf? It may be distracting, as your tele-buddies try to read your titles. Pictures of your kids? “That’s a privacy issue,” Singer said. “So, people have to ask themselves if they want that in the shot.”

L’Italien recommends finding a clean space just big enough to fill your shot. “The rest of the space you are in can be a tragic mess, but if what is behind you can be in order, then you’re in good shape,” she said.

Frame the Shot. “You want to be in the middle of the frame. You want it to look like someone is actually talking to you,” Singer said. “Don’t stand up and be far away from your camera. You don’t want people to be straining to see your face.”

Also, be mindful of the camera placement. “For some laptop models, the camera is coming from the lower part of the screen, so everyone is looking up your nose,” L’Italien said. Purchasing an external camera you can position, or raising your laptop (set it on books) can help avoid up-the-nose shots. L’Italien suggested aligning the camera with your hairline for a good face shot.

Dress for Success. If you’re a laid-back office, it is fine to dress similar for teleconferencing, but be mindful of your audience. “With members, you want to come across as professional,” Singer said.

Makeup. Both Singer and L’Italien suggest that everyone wear makeup to avoid shine on your face and to ensure you don’t appear washed out.

Keep it Simple. “Keep gestures to a minimum,” Singer said. “Too much hand gesturing is very distracting.”

Use the Camera. Some people may think it’s easier just to turn off the video. Not necessarily. “It might be to your detriment,” L’Italien said. “You might look like you’re not a team player.” However, sometimes the camera has to go off…

Stuff Happens. “If the dog starts barking, know where the mute button is. If your kid comes running through naked, know how to turn off the camera, and collect yourself before you rejoin,” L’Italien said. “The best way to recover from an interruption is not to act like nothing happened. If there are interruptions, address them, laugh, and move on with your meeting.”

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