CNL… Did You Know – Telling Your Story; The WHY

October 10, 2017

Question:  I care deeply about my nonprofit, but WHY do I really need to become a public speaker as long as I can talk to my Board and clients about our work?

Answer:  Because the ability to speak directly, concisely, and honestly about our work builds interest and confidence in our organization. Public speaking comes naturally for some, but not for all. We don’t want to brag, so we say less, which means we may not inspire others to feel as we do about our work.

That’s unfortunate. We are engaged in our public service mission to help make our community and people’s lives better, so it is important that we not only engage people’s interest, but inspire them to join us in public service.

In addition, research shows that most nonprofit funding comes from individuals. This clearly underlines the  importance of developing relationships with individual donors since that is where the money comes from!

Are you an Executive Director?  The leadership role of an E.D. requires constant communication with people in various walks of life. And, while we can use our brief “elevator speech” about what our organization does and contributes, each of us needs to “dig deeper” to truly inspire others. Do you have a story about why you are involved in the organization?  What are the two or three critical services that your organization provides?  Having the story and answers to these questions at your fingertips – or on the tip of the tongue – can make all the difference in the world when we find ourselves:

  • Asked to speak to community service organizations about our work
  • Talking at board meetings or to prospective donors about how our organization betters the life of the community
  • Engaging staff and volunteers on getting our work done
  • Making a “pitch” for other organizations to collaborate with us.

Are you a Board member?  Your role has multiple sides – helping set direction for the organization, communicating the nonprofit’s work to friends and community and advocating for resources. Each of these roles requires that you be able to talk about the organization – the big ideas, the WHY, as well as the WHAT you get done in the community.

Are you a staff member or volunteer in a nonprofit?  Although you may not be the leader of the organization, you are an advocate for its work. Having thought through why you work or volunteer for the organization is important, but can you put that into words? The “why” of what you do may be your own personal story, the story of those your organization has helped, or an impact statement about the community. But it needs to be short, concise and inspiring, so others will join you.

“Ideas are the currency of the 21st Century,” says Carmine Gallo in his bestselling book Talk Like TED.* For nonprofit organizations to reach their maximum potential, they must be able to communicate their ideas and tell their stories in ways that capture the attention of partners, donors, volunteers, and the public. Whatever your role in your nonprofit, the ability to succinctly and passionately carry the message about your work is critical– for you personally, for your organization, and for the community you serve.

We each care about something very deeply. And, we have to find our own way to share that passion, through stories, humor and a new twist on an old or new idea in order to engage our audience and convince them to share our passion.

Like virtually everything else in life, becoming a passionate, powerful and inspiring communicator takes time and practice. We hope you will join us this Friday for our session with Janice Dunn.

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