How to Improve Your Presentations

Not only is it had to hold others’ attention for very long on a web site or in an email newsletter, it’s increasingly difficult to connect to your attendees during presentations (and often to colleagues during meetings).  Many of us are constantly checking our mobile devices to participate in social networking sites, a phenomenon clearly described in Cliff Atkinson’s recent book, The Backchannel.  So how can we use this as an opportunity to connect with more people instead of viewing this as a problem?

Social networking sites like Twitter allow event attendees to report on a presentation while it is taking place.  This means that you can reach many others who are not able to attend in person.   Below are some tips which I’ve taken from the book and from my own experience as a presenter:

  1. Create a hash tag (#) that can be used to reference comments on Twitter
  2. Use a presentation home page to link to slides and to provide a communication channel with the audience after the live presentation has ended.  Don’t forget to reference  your web site, SlideShare, Twitter, relevant blog postings and videos on YouTube
  3. Have a colleague monitor the backchannel while you present – it’s a bit challenging to do both yourself and still concentrate on what you’re saying
  4. Take ‘Twitter breaks’ to acknowledge what is being said and to respond to comments / suggestions
  5. Include more graphics and less words in your slides.  If you’re reading information from your slides, you’re not going to hold people’s interest
  6. If necessary, modify presentation based on feedback you receive while you speak.  Don’t be afraid to change tactics if your audience is not engaged.
  7. Encourage live participation throughout your talk, not only at the end.  I’ve often attended talks where there is so much information presented, there’s little or no time left for questions.  Don’t let this happen to you.
  8. Less is more.  Have a handful of major points you want attendees to remember (and to tweet).  Don’t try to communicate too much.
  9. Find out who is attending your presentation before you speak so you can customize your materials.  It’s helpful to ask some questions of the audience on site, but it’s much easier if you take the time to research in advance.
  10. Learn from great speakers, such as Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Beth Kanter.   Watch how they engage with the audience and use feedback from attendees to communicate their message.

Few of us are naturally great speakers, but it gets easier with practice.  Join a group like Toastmasters if you want to improve your skills and seek out every opportunity to speak to groups.

Are Nonprofits Effectively Using New Social Media Tools?

This week has featured a flurry of comments about whether nonprofits are taking advantage of new social media tools such as Twitter.  Seth Godin says no but the Chronicle of Philanthropy gives several examples to  show how some nonprofits are doing things right.   See also social media guru Beth Kanter’s attempt to reconcile the two sides.

My take: smaller organizations such as Charity:Water will continue to take the lead on showing larger nonprofits how to raise funds and engage constituents in a variety of new ways.  Larger organizations are still trying to deal with what Clay Shirky‘s observation during his year’s  Nonprofit Technology Conference: nonprofits have already lost control of their branding and messaging .

Here’s a newly released report on How Nonprofits are Using Web-based Technologies to Reach Their Goals.   Not surprisingly, many organizations are still experimenting to discover what works.  On the for profit side, some companies are using outside firms to manage their Twitter and Facebook presence;  my take – social media works best if it’s coming directly from organization staff.

Still More ePhilanthropy Ideas From Around the Web

According to the Foundation Center’s Philanthropy News Digest. “some of the nation’s largest charities…have seen only modest gains in online donations…because many of them have been slow to embrace or aggressively market their Web sites as a platform for giving.”  So this may be more a result of a lack of marketing than to a slowdown in the growth of online fundraising.

In Fundraising Success, Steve Kehrli suggests that there’s no such thing as a free donation, The costs of ephilanthropy usually include:

  1. e-commerce platform integrated with your constituent database.
  2. creative team that creates effective copy, images and video
  3. production department that standardizes email content.
  4. list of online prospects that eventually become donors
  5. consultants and analysis that provide actionable recommendations.

Steve suggests that there are other costs, such as the correspondence team that responds to inquiries and training / developing staff that are also part of developing effective online strategies..

Pew / Internet released a report on cloud computing that estimates 69% of online users are now using hosted applications and/or storing data online, but many are concerned about how this information will be used by online vendors.

eJewishPhilanthropy’s Brand Sharing 2.0 suggests that to make the most of Web 2.0 tools, nonprofit organizations give up some control over their organizational identities and “allowi their strongest supporters to use these organizational brands as an extension of their own personal online branding efforts,” offering examples from the Salvation Army, National Geographic and the World Wildlife Fund.

Finally, marketing guru Seth Godin gave a stimulating talk this week as part of Network for Good’s wonderful Nonprofit 911 series on how to become a ‘purple nonprofit.’

Online Fundraising or Direct Mail? Use Both

Does online fundraising offer a huge opportunity for most nonprofits?  Yes.  Does this mean that the more traditional direct mail methods should no longer be used?  No! Many other bloggers recently discussed this issue:

Chronicle of Philanthropy  – Direct-Mail Appeals Suffer, New Survey Finds

Sea Change Strategies – Mark Rovner – A Little Fundraising Rant

Seth Godin – I Gave at the Office, as well as his latest book, Meatball Sundae

A useful summary of the issue is provided in The Agitator’s Baby and the Bathwater.

I agree with Seth’s point that online fundraising clearly is not meant to replace direct mail fundraising.  Some people may always respond best to direct mail, while others enjoy doing everything online.  The real challenge, as Seth points out, is to convert the donor to an active supporter of an organization’s cause, or who encourages others to get involved.  Whether a donor gives offline or online, getting someone to get and stay engaged has the biggest benefit for our organizations.

List of Innovative Nonprofits

GetActive, NetSquared and Squidoo have combined to put together a list of the 59 Smartest Organizations Online, nonprofit organizations that are using the latest technologies to engage their constituents.  There are undoubtedly many NPOs that will be familiar to you, but many that were completely new to me.  Squidoo was created by Seth Godin, who has authored several fascinating books, such as Purple Cow.