[lightbox src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIABo0d9MVE"][button] Watch the Video! [/button][/lightbox]Experts can rely on their, well, expertise and reputation to keep people listening; unfortunately, most of us at the beginning of our careers don’t have that luxury. I frequently present to or train people who may not know my organization, let alone me. So what steps do I take to keep people engaged? Below are some tips I try to follow:
Give yourself time!This is one of the biggest and easiest mistakes to make. My more esteemed colleague requires 8 hours of preparation for every hour of presentation. If you are speaking on a topic you haven’t presented before, you may need more time than that. When you set aside this time, it’s important to take the opportunity to:
- Spell it out by creating an outline
- Looks are everything - make sure your information catches the audience
- Get the audience involved through activities or engagement
- Test it out with a dry run beforehand
Spell it outIf you’re writing a paper, you create an outline – why not do that for a presentation as well? At our company, we define the items listed below:
- Brief description: If this presentation is to be listed on a flyer or in a program, how would it be described?
- Learning Objectives: When the presentation is complete, what do you want them to walk out knowing?
Looks are everythingYou don’t need to be a graphic designer to have a slick-looking presentation. You just need to follow some simple rules. This set of slides says it all much better than I can:
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I’ve summarized the points below:
- Too much info
- Not enough visuals
- Bad quality
- Overwhelming visuals
- Lack of prep (hmmm… was that mentioned previously?)
Get the audience involvedDo presentations you attend often have the obligatory Q&A session at the end of the session? Is this typically the only interaction the presenter has with the audience? If you’re nodding yes, then more audience involvement is key!
The question is how? There’s many ways of creating engagement. The simplest form of engagement is to poll the audience on a topic or a point you make in the presentation. It’s also a great way for you to get feedback instantly! You may also want to incorporate an opening activity, sometimes called an ice breaker, and a closing activity.
Test it outDry runs help work the kinks out of presentations. If the presentation is for a group outside of your office, invite your coworkers to a brown bag lunch and ask them for pointers (cookies or other forms of dessert can be a great bribe). You can also use someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the topic, such as a friend, roommate or significant other. If you can’t get your point across to them, there’s a distinct possibility that the presentation is not effective.
Lastly…Don’t beat yourself up! Whether it’s before, during or after the presentation, be confident. It’s okay to say you don’t know something, but don’t apologize for it.
~Lauren Westmoreland, YNPN Atlanta Marketing Committee Member
As young professionals, we’re often thrown into things at work and expected to run with them. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – having to figure things out on our own and implement them without previous experience represents an incredible growth opportunity. With that growth, though, will also come mistakes.
The other day, I made a mistake at work. The details aren’t really important – it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was definitely something that I was completely responsible for. The ensuing phone call with my supervisor was more than awkward, and I had to act immediately to handle the situation. I think the four steps I went through may well serve as a framework for the future – and though I’d like to think I’ll never make a mistake at work again, that would be completely unrealistic.
Step One – Investigate:
Before rushing to any conclusions, you should look back at what happened. Learn where the error was made and why, and see if there is something you may have overlooked. Perhaps the mistake wasn’t yours – maybe a name was listed wrong in a document, or your instructions were wrong. Either way, you need to know what happened.
With so many amazing speakers and topics, I recommend that all nonprofits send more than one representative to this event every year, in order to take advantage of the opportunities for learning and growth.
I walked around the Exhibit Hall, visiting with the many exhibitors who were there, and several of them commented to me on how many YNPN members they had met. This was due in no small part to YNPN Atlanta’s collaboration with GCN on the 30 Under 30 Awards, and in the creation of the ’30 Under 30’ track at the conference, including bringing Trish Tchume, YNPN National’s Executive Director, to present at the Summit.
All 30 award winners at the Summit!
There was also fun to be had at the conference, especially at the Opportunity Knocks photobooth, run by wowphotobooth.com! Here's a collage of some YNPN'ers hamming it up: Edelman included the tidbit that Facebook posts create engagement for 2 to 3 hours only (on Twitter, it’s an hour or less), and 70% of post engagement happens in someone’s News Feed, not on your organization’s Page. Ms. Esker also wisely told the audience to get on Google+, but to use it as an amplifier, not a community builder. Google+ helps with search results, which is critical. (FYI, YNPN Atlanta is on Google+!)
Another wonderful presentation I saw was from Ellen Dracos Lemming and it was about the Donor Landscape of 2050. Check out this slide about the growth of the sector in the past 25 years:
She also spoke about the five Tectonic Shifts in donors that will be occurring:
- Demographics: especially age, but also ethnicity
- Technology: note that older Americans are already increasingly going mobile
- Globalization: “geography is irrelevant”
- Saturation: more like over-saturation of stimuli and information
- Brand: creation of a feeling, a personality, around your organization
Last, but in no way least, was the 30 Under 30 Session headed up by Trish Tchume and our own YNPN Atlanta President, Lindsey Hardegree on ‘Your Role in Cultivating Next Generation Leadership.’ We’ve got their presentation slides posted on slideshare and embedded below.
The group also discussed leveraging the benefits to the organization when asking for funding for professional development opportunities (ex: “if I take this training class in InDesign, we will save money on hiring outside consultants to tweak our graphics”).
Overall, I met so many amazing people at the Summit, and sat in on more than a dozen workshops, presentations, and discussion groups. YNPN Atlanta will keep you informed when next year's Summit comes around, and we will hopefully have discounts and volunteer opportunities for our members once again!
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If like me you’re looking for some picks for this summer, here are a few I’d suggest checking out. And stay tuned for more recommendations from YNPNers in June and July!
For Business:Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
You’ll want to buy this book brand new, as it comes with a unique log-in for an online assessment questionnaire designed to help you determine your strengths, as well as action steps for how to make the most of them. After you take the online questionnaire, you’ll receive a personalized Strengths Insights Report and Action-Planning Guide. A #1 Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller, the book offers additional insights into your strengths, information about working with others with your strengths, and also ideas for action. Rather than focusing on fixing your shortcomings, this book emphasizes developing your strengths as a way to find fulfillment in your career. It’s an eye-opening exercise and a rewarding read.
How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar by Trista Harris and Rosetta Thurman
This do-it-yourself map helps you navigate the nonprofit sector and offers tools that you need to move from entry level to leadership. The book is based on the authors' experiences as well as interviews with “nonprofit rockstars” who have quickly accelerated their careers. Topics covered in the book are how to develop meaningful nonprofit experience, build a strong network, establish a strong personal brand, achieve work/life balance, and move up in your career. Author Rosetta Thurman actually visited Atlanta back in November for a free nonprofit career workshop at the Foundation Center.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
As the subtitle suggests, this book is about “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.” A nonfiction book that reads like a page-turner, this one is a recent favorite. Gladwell focuses on how a seemingly small or insignificant idea, trend or behavior can trigger a social epidemic, worldwide fashion trend, or drop in crime rate. As I read this book, I often got inspiration for new ways to approach my own professional development as well as nonprofit marketing and fundraising.
For Pleasure:The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs
This memoir by NPR contributor and magazine editor A.J. Jacobs tells the somewhat ridiculous and often hilarious story of the author’s quest to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. With chapters titled A to Z, the book is full of interesting facts and truly amusing tales of Jacobs’ determination to finish all 33,000 pages. I had a blast reading this book and even more fun impressing (or annoying) my friends with quirky bits of info I may never have known if I hadn’t picked it up.
“’Too many organizations lack a culture of philanthropy, which means that development directors don’t have the conditions they need to succeed,’ she says. ‘It’s a vicious cycle.’”
On Wednesday, April 24, YNPN Atlanta held a panel and discussion group on “The State of Fundraising.” We were joined by three Atlanta nonprofit fundraising professionals:
- John Clark, Associate Vice President for Development, Georgia State University - Subie Green, President, Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) - Elizabeth Pearce, Campaign Director, Coxe Curry & Associates
All three panelists agreed that the study struck a chord and was completely on point with its key findings. One major challenge the panelists added that they are seeing is a shift in fundraising staffs having the primary or sole responsibility for raising money instead of the Board of Directors. A major reason for this is that a proliferation of nonprofit organizations has diluted the effectiveness of Board members. Too many of the same people are being asked to serve on 3, 4, 5 or 6 boards, which dilute their fundraising abilities and opportunities.
GSU's Jon Clark speaks with YNPN members during a breakout at the Fundraising Roundtable event.
After hearing from the panelists about the study and the current state of fundraising, we broke into three discussion groups. The event participants had the opportunity to discuss the CompassPoint study in depth with one of our experts, as well as ask relevant questions about beginning and growing a career in fundraising.
The key ideas that came out of these discussions were:
- Make the ask - Take a risk - Role play or practice the ask (especially with Board members) - Everyone in the organization is in 'sales' (not just the fundraising staff) - Fundraising is a skill set and a profession - Find a mentor in the field and don’t be afraid to ask - Invest fully in the mission of the organization - Fundraising = relationships - Relationships encompass all areas of work - Focus on quality relationships vs. quantity - The structure of an organization affects the capacity to fundraise - Do your homework when job seeking about the organization(s) you want to work for - Find the right fit in a job – you are interviewing the organization as much as they are interviewing you
To read the Chronicle of Philanthropy article highlighting the key points of the CompassPoint study, click here.
In a related topic, a recent TED Talk by activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta, “The way we think about charity is dead wrong,” calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend -- not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world. Watch this dynamic and forward thinking talk:
- Kate Balzer, YNPN Atlanta Member
According to the Independent Sector, the estimated value of volunteer time in Georgia is $20.77/hr. That’s an incredible amount of worth that these individuals are providing for organizations that are operating as cost efficiently as possible.
During National Volunteer Week (and really, throughout the year), find some time to recognize the volunteers who help your organization thrive. Here are some ways you can acknowledge those individuals:
- Handwritten Thank You Cards – With the noise of email and social media, some volunteers, especially ones of older generations, would prefer more personal and individual forms of gratitude. Handwritten cards, notes, and letters can show your volunteers that you took the time out to craft the message to them.
- Make a video or photo slideshow – Along with writing a note, if you have long term volunteers or ones that help at major events or fundraisers, consider creating a video or photo slideshow that highlights not only the event, but those that were on the ground helping to make it all run smoothly. Make some copies for your volunteers to take home so that they can look back fondly on their service experience and pass it along to others, which can help your organization retain and recruit new individuals for future events.
- Write a Recommendation – For skills-based or long term volunteers, writing a recommendation, either as a letter or on LinkedIn, that emphasizes the quality of the individual’s work would be a great way to recognize their service. This would also be a good vehicle to highlight the details of the projects the individual worked on and how it contributed to the goals of your nonprofit organization.
- Highlight them on social media – A public (and free!) way to recognize your volunteers would be on social media. You can send a tweet using #NVW, post pictures, or make a video that shows you and your organization’s gratitude to the service these members have contributed. When you tag them on a status, tweet, or other media, their networks will be able to see the post and also recognize the volunteer for the great work they did, while learning more about your organization at the same time!
- Treat them out – The next time your volunteers come to serve, offer to take them out for lunch or coffee. This will be a nice surprise for your volunteers, and it’ll be a great way for you to get to know them on a more personal level. You can learn more about what they’re looking to get out of serving at your organization and how their service fits into other parts of their lives.
Visit VolunteerSpot for other ways that you can say thanks to volunteers during National Volunteer Week. What are some ways your organization has recognized volunteers? Share with us in the comments below!
Published April 17, 2013Knowing and thinking about leadership succession is important, even for emerging professionals. Leadership change is something we will all face in our careers, if we haven’t already.
With that in mind, I was happy to attend an event on April 16th about these challenges. The Georgia Center for Nonprofits (GCN) hosts an "Expert Series," which are events open only to employees of GCN member organizations. This one was called Planning for Leadership Succession: Success Strategies and Live Case Studies and was held in the Hill Auditorium at the High Museum of Art.
The event began with networking and a continental breakfast. At 8 a m , it was a bit early, but most people appeared bright-eyed and ready for learning.
After welcoming remarks from GCN, Lita Pardi, a Senior Program Officer at the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, spoke briefly about the importance of planning for transition, equating a succession plan for an organization to a will for an individual: in both cases, it’s important to make plans before the event takes place. In spite of this, as we learned later that morning, a study by the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta showed that 73% of Greater Atlanta nonprofits have no written succession plan. (Yikes!) You can find out more of the study’s findings in this article on the GCN website.
Next, we heard from Mary Bear Hughes, a Senior Consultant at GCN. She defined three aspects of succession planning and spoke about each one:
- Strategic planning: general plan for talent & leadership needs for the future, including specific development plans for each employee
- Emergency planning: having a written plan in place in case of unexpected absence of leadership; who/how, written guide (another employee? Board Chair? founder?)
- Departure-defined: leader has planned departure; prepare transition plan, ensure organization’s stability, examine strategic plan for priority changes (put off capital campaign, etc)
One point she emphasized was that succession plans do not need to define who the permanent replacement is for a leader. I particularly liked that Ms. Hughes spoke about staff development for all employees as a part of succession planning. I hadn’t thought of staff development in the context of leadership transition, but it makes a lot of sense!
Another great takeaway from Ms. Hughes’s talk, was the mention that the Texas Commission on the Arts has great sample plans for leadership planning and transition. I found their site later and looked at some of their extensive tools, which include sample emergency and regular succession plans, exit interview questions, and much more! It really is a wonderful resource.
The last piece of the GCN event was a panel of experts. The panel consisted of:
- Arturo Jacobus, Executive Director, Atlanta Ballet
- Elizabeth Adams, Board Vice Chair, Atlanta Ballet
- Meredith Rentz, CEO & President, MedShare
- Charlie Evans, Board Vice Chair, MedShare
- Virginia Hepner, President& CEO, Woodruff Arts Center
In addition to serving as Interim Executive Director of the Atlanta Ballet, Virginia Hepner has also served as Interim Director at Young Audiences of Atlanta and recently transitioned into the role of CEO at the Woodruff Arts Center, so she knows quite a bit about succession and transition! She spoke about when hiring an Interim Director may be appropriate, which is generally in cases of an unexpected/quick departure.
After further edifying discussion from the panelists, an audience member asked a question I found particularly intriguing: what about Board changes after a leadership transition? Sometimes different leaders need different kinds of board members, especially if the outgoing Director is the organization’s founder. Arturo spoke about coming into new positions and finding Boards who were very comfortable and long-serving, which is not always desirable. So he recognized the truth of the audience member’s concerns, but he stressed the need for a long-term, planned process of Board turnover in order to steer it in a new direction.
This is the second event in the Expert Series I have attended, and both have been exceptional. If your organization is a member of the GCN (you can check in their online member directory), I recommend attending events in this series – they are free for members. GCN also has individual and student memberships.
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It’s easy to focus solely on one’s own organization and local issues, but we need to recognize that it’s critically important not to lose sight of the larger sector in which you work (health, arts, education, homelessness prevention, etc), in addition to the nonprofit sector as a whole. This is particularly true for YNPN members, since we are at a relatively early state in our careers – it’s very possible we may move to a new area of the country, or find a job opportunity in an unexpected new field. Keeping up with the latest research, thought leaders, conferences, political and policy issues, and the general state of our sector will best prepare you for whatever may come.
The question then becomes: how does one do this without spending hours upon hours reading every day? That is time we don’t have!
Overall, it’s about discovering the right curators. You can’t read everything, so you have to seek out organizations/people/automated systems that sort through the sea of content available and deliver only the best and most useful items to you. I have a few tips, and I would love to hear your own ideas in the comments.
1. Twitter (especially lists)
Twitter has become my favorite and most reliable place to discover new and interesting tidbits that I find relevant to my life and career. Personally, I choose who I follow very carefully and judiciously, but not everyone shares that habit! Regardless of whether you follow 200 or 2000 people, I recommend creating a Twitter List that includes only those accounts you find interesting professionally. Every couple of days, scroll through that list and see what they have to say. These accounts can include bloggers, professionals, other nonprofits in your field, national nonprofit news sources…but only include those who regularly tweet interesting, relevant content. Check out this info, from Twitter, on how to use their lists feature, and you can find one person’s take on how best to create and manage lists right here.
2. Advocacy Groups
Full disclosure: I have worked and volunteered for advocacy groups for the past 5 years. But they keep their ears to the ground for policy issues and political changes that will potentially affect your organizations, both positively and negatively. Be on their email list and follow them on social media – they will keep you abreast of what you need to know in the political realm. Seek out national organizations as well as state and regional ones.
3. Associations & Other Newsletters
A person can only belong to so many professional associations, and one must choose carefully…but that is a subject for another blog post! You can often get news from professional associations whether you are a paid member or not. Their newsletters will include news articles, opportunities, and developments in the field. Here in Georgia, if you are not signed up for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits email list, get on it today! I also recommend Coxe Curry’s weekly email with news relevant to all nonprofits in the Atlanta area. You can subscribe here.
4. RSS – Searches
RSS Searches: Keeping tabs on specific organizations (especially the one you work for) or keyword searches can be done using RSS feeds from specific sources (such as The New York Times or The Chronicle of Philanthropy) or Google News alerts tailored to your interests.
5. Online bookmarking systems
Finding a system that will allow you to easily bookmark articles/blogs/websites to read or skim later on is key. When you run into things via emails or social media or whatnot, you need a way of saving the good ones for later. PC World just posted a great article on the pros and cons of three systems: OneNote, Evernote, and Google Keep.
In all of these categories, think a little outside the box when searching for sources and curators. Although I have never worked for a museum, I find the American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) advocacy email list to be invaluable as a source of clear, reliable information on arts policy and news.
Please share your own tips, tricks, and recommended curators in the comments! This is an issue we’ll all face throughout our careers. Coming up right now with a system that works for you will help you for many years to come!
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Here are some ways you can start spring cleaning for your career:
- Elevator Pitch – With the upcoming YNPN Atlanta Speed Networking event on April 16th, it’ll be a good time to brush up on your elevator pitch. You’ll want to be able to convey who you are, what you do, and why it’s important in about 30 seconds. Be concise and get to the point of your work. The same applies when you’re first introducing your nonprofit and the work that it does. You’ll want to have an elevator speech that will be direct and help start those connections with potential partners and donors.
- Professional Goals – Time to start spring cleaning your 2013 goals and resolutions. Check to see if you’re still on track with meeting your goals, if they need to be modified, or if you have new goals you’d like to accomplish in the next months. Set benchmarks for yourself to see what you’ll need to get where you want to be. These free goal organizer posters from The Nectar Collective are also helpful for you to visually see yourself meeting your goals (just like when you’re growing up!).
- Business Cards – Remember that big stack of cards you collected at the last YNPN networking event? Have you followed up with those contacts that you made? No? Well, going forward, try to make it a habit of replying back to your contacts within 48 hrs of meeting. The info on their business cards is essential, and you don’t want to miss out on making a connection because you forgot!
- Resume – Updating your resume can be difficult and tedious when you’re doing it on the job hunt. Why not keep it up to date with your most recent accomplishments as you make them? This will help you remember the key projects you worked on and the successes that you gained throughout your career.
- LinkedIn Profile – Similar to your resume, have you updated your LinkedIn profile with your most recent and relevant accomplishments? Have you written a recommendation for a colleague? If not, you could be missing out on making some valuable connections. YNPN Atlanta is active on LinkedIn as it is the largest social network devoted to professionals, and recruiters are always looking through profiles for new recruits. Also, it is a great place to seek potential donors and partners for your organization.
No matter what time of year you have your annual performance review, it’s never too early to start preparing. Being properly prepared will help ensure that you have a successful, productive meeting with your supervisor that will help you thrive in your current position and develop as a professional.
Follow these tips to make the most of your next review meeting!
Review your job description and make note of any discrepancies: Read through your job description with a critical eye. Does it properly describe your role within the organization? Make note of any duties you’ve taken on or any projects for which you’ve gone above and beyond your assigned role. Be sure to discuss these with your supervisor as examples of why you are deserving of either more responsibility, a raise, or even a promotion. This is also a good time to look for areas for growth. If there are particular aspects of your job that you really enjoy or in which you would like to take on extra responsibility, you should bring them up during the conversation to help ensure job satisfaction.