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Five Ways To Communicate Your Message Dynamically

Featured post by William D. Shiell-

Whenever non-profit leaders speak, they communicate a message. An audience perceives energy, vision, and impact (or lack thereof) within about two minutes of your opening remarks. A fancy PowerPoint deck or video cannot replace a personal connection. Most people want to hear your heart more than watch a professional production. How can you make the most of these moments to share with others?

1. Review Your “Why” — The Organization’s Why, And Your Focus

Remind yourself why you serve your institution and why your mission matters.

    • Develop a monthly cadence of reflecting on your accomplishments and impact.
    • Reach out to members, students, alumni, or clients, and learn why they’re involved. Ask them to tell you the difference your work makes in their lives.
    • Review your annual focus from your strategic plan, and make sure you can clearly state that focus memorably.

2. Rehearse A Message

Leaders can’t be expected to have a new speech for each audience, but you can write a core message that can be improvised for various settings. Speaking extemporaneously doesn’t mean being unprepared. This message is prepared, rehearsed, and ready. Speakers can adapt their ideas to the moment and reuse the content for different groups. Here’s a simple outline you can use:

    • Focus: Our focus this year is ______________
    • Gratitude: Thank your audience for the opportunity to speak, and thank them for supporting your focus
    • Data: The difference you have made (key data point) to accomplish your focus thus far
    • Story:  a person whose life you’ve touched because of the focus (see #1)
    • Spotlight: Point out someone or a team on the program staff who has made it possible for your team to accomplish the focus. “Without this person/team, we can’t accomplish this mission.”
    • Progress: More to do: “We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress because of you.”  Having this message ready for any audience and event can prepare you for everything from the spontaneous introduction at staff meeting to the annual gala. Which leads me to the next point…..

3. Recognize Every Moment Matters

Most leaders do not know when they will speak at events. Always be prepared to say a good word about your work. Your organization wants to hear from you, and every time you speak you are communicating a message (good or bad). Your energy and outlook indicate to the group the hope you have for the organization. You never know when someone who might want to become involved in your work will respond. Wrap up within 10 minutes. Remember that people's attention spans are short. Leave them wanting to hear more from you rather than looking at their watches.

4.) Read The Room

Listen carefully to those you encounter. Actively engage with their needs, concerns, joys, and fears. Empathy is your superpower. When appropriate, could you name what the audience feels, and acknowledge the issues that the group faces that day? Even if your message is not directly tied to the audience's needs, they will appreciate that their concerns have not been ignored.

5.) Remain Afterward

After every event where you’ve been given the microphone, remain afterward for follow-up and feedback. Someone will want to ask questions or find out more information. Your presence after a meeting shows your respect for what the group has accomplished and allows you to be accessible and available to others.

William D. Shiell is an author and speaker for over 24 years. He coaches leaders and boards of nonprofits and churches. Reach out to him via LinkedIn.

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