Shakespeare said it best: “All the world’s a stage.” Whether you are on the board or staff, a chapter leader, or a volunteer – what you say and how you say it influences organizational culture as well as the decision to join or renew membership.

In my early career as a journalist, I realized there were two kinds of people: people who were great under pressure and people who fell apart under pressure. When you are conducting a media interview, how a person communicates with you tells you a story in and of itself. Is the person stumbling over their words? Defensive and placing blame? Or confident and polite? A journalist is trained to ‘sniff out the story’ depending on what is said, but also what is unsaid.

We all, to some degree, do the same assessment of people in our everyday interactions, and we decide whether we trust and feel safe with someone and the organization that person represents. Like it or not, people are drawing conclusions about what it’s like to be a member of your association based on what leaders say and how they say it.

I’ve observed there is an overall lack of media training, branding, and messaging awareness in membership associations. As a result, many associations experience member disengagement and decline – sometimes not even realizing it’s happening as a result of negative messaging.

In this episode of the Membership IQ, I share some examples of messages that have a tendency to backfire and usher up a reminder to staff and volunteers – you are always on stage representing the association’s membership and brand.