We Asked, You Answered
In March, CASE and our member institutions faced many similar challenges. We all considered foundation-shaking questions such as: how do we accomplish the same level of work in an all-online environment and continue to serve those that rely on us? And how do we make sure our teams stay connected and safe?
It turns out that the answer to these questions is videoconferencing.
“CASE has been conducting online events for the past seven months and we plan to deliver all of our conferences virtually for many months to come,” says Emily DeYoung, CASE's senior director of educational programs. “We are learning and adjusting our models with each of our programs. We are approaching our audiences with a focus on what is most critical from a learning outcomes perspective, understanding the need for person to person engagement, and responding to volunteer, attendee, and staff feedback.”
At CASE and at educational institutions around the globe, the switch from an in-person environment to a virtual world with videoconferencing came with its bumps—but thanks to hardworking IT departments and flexible staff, the work continues to get done.
At CASE, once we were set up to be able to do videoconferences, the focus switched from: how do we get this done to how do we get this done well?
That is why CASE, in partnership with The Goodman Center and other organizations, is proud to release of a new report, “Unmuted: What works, what doesn’t, and how we can all do better when working together online.”
“When we wanted to learn what was working (and what wasn’t) with videoconferences, we figured the best way was to ask the people who are doing it every day,” says Andy Goodman, co-founder and director of The Goodman Center, a strategic communications firm located in Los Angeles. “And more than a thousand CASE members responded, so now we have dozens of field-tested, data-driven recommendations to share.”
Based on a survey of 4,405 people at nonprofits and foundations, colleges and universities, and government agencies, “Unmuted” examines the explosion of videoconferencing triggered by the pandemic and addresses the question: What’s really happening when working together face-to-face means screen-to-screen?
As the title suggests, this research—by pressing “unmute” and letting thousands of people sound off about their daily experiences in videoconferences—has identified best practices along with persistent problems.
When asked how videoconferencing is going at their organizations, people responded with either “too much” or “not enough.” There is a fatigue with the number of videoconferences and the length of those conferences, while there is also a feeling of disconnect that persisted.
So, how do you fix issues at different ends of a spectrum? There is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
“Unmuted” is divided into nine sections focused on specific aspects of videoconferences, including structure, leadership and facilitation, engagement techniques, and more. Each section includes data-driven recommendations for improving videoconferences moving forward.
There are some easy to accomplish recommendations, such as managing how you use a chat box or making meetings video-optional, and long-term solutions such as providing training to necessary staff members and refining the visual style of virtual assets.
CASE members and nonmembers can learn more about the findings of this report in an online seminar on Dec. 3, 2020, that will outline and explore the survey findings and help you understand how best to implement these lessons into your ongoing digital strategy.
Andy Goodman is co-founder and director of The Goodman Center, which teaches communications and marketing professionals how to reach more people with more impact. Along with Storytelling as Best Practice, he is author of Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes and Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes. He also publishes a monthly journal, free-range thinking, to share best practices in the field of public interest communications.
Andy is internationally known for his speeches and workshops on storytelling and has led over 500 trainings for clients including CARE, The Nature Conservancy, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, NOAA, the San Diego Zoo, MIT, Princeton, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, GE, Bank of America, and many others.
He has designed communications curriculum for the College for Social Innovation in Boston as well as for the African Leadership University in Mauritius. When not teaching, traveling, or recovering from teaching and traveling, Andy serves on the advisory board of the Institute for Human Caring. For more information about his work, please visit www.thegoodmancenter.com.