Presenting to Community Organizations

August 28, 2007 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

I’m currently the interim Program Chair for my Rotary club. I offered to help because I know quite a few people in Eugene who represent the type of agencies and organizations that we usually hear from at Rotary. Many of those people are my clients, former clients and friends.

Presenting to civic and fraternal organizations like Rotary clubs is a great way to reach business and community leaders. I often recommend it as part of a communication plan. Part of doing the “animal circuit” (as one of our clients calls it), is that you need a succinct 15 or 20 minute presentation that gives enough background, yet still allows time for a “how you can help” message. Rotary clubs may be informal, but there’s no excuse for not being professional.

Here are some tips for presenting to organizations like Rotary or Lions or Kiwanis.

1. Know your audience. Your local Rotary club might not be what you’re thinking. Our club, for example is younger and more female than the average Rotary.

2. Be clear about your objectives. What is the purpose for your presentation? Even if it’s to inform, consider what you want your audience to do when it’s all over. What should they want to do with the information? Maybe it’s to volunteer or maybe it’s just to take the info and share it with someone else.

Or in the case of United Way’s Success by Six initiative, maybe the objective is to encourage people to support young parents, whether with a kind word or just a smile or through policy decisions.

3. Deliver your key messages. These are messages that you’re not coming up with for this presentation, but ones that should infuse everything in your organization. Every press release, every employee training, every brochure (you get the point) should reinforce your key messages.

4. Be passionate. Care about what you’re talking about. If you don’t find someone who does. Passion is contagious.

5. Be prepared. Be prepared not just for the presentation with an outline, a nice powerpoint or some kind of visual, etc. But be prepared for questions. If you’re part of a community organization that’s had some recent controversy or press coverage unrelated to your topic, don’t think that subject is off-limits. And one poorly thought-out answer could damage your organization’s (and your) credibility.

For more tips:
Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen blog
Fast Company: Now that We Have Your Attention
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