|Winning programs create energy and enthusiasm.|
Written by Robyn T. Braley
Quality programs play a key role in sustaining Rotarian's interest while motivating, inspiring, challenging and sometimes entertaining them. Great programs go a long way to keeping club members engaged.
Meetings play a key role in marketing the club at different levels. The first impressions made on visitors, potential members and others impacts … well … a lot of things.
In Part 1 I laid the foundation by asking the question ‘Can Your Club’s Speaker’s Program be Improved?’ In this post I provide tips for taking the next step in building a program strategy.
Why Develop a Formal Strategy
I recently spoke to a club of about 30 members. Following my talk a Rotarian came to me with a look of panic in his eyes and a quiver in his voice. He revealed he had just been appointed to look after programs but had no experience. He had undertaken the task as a courageous act of service.
|Eliminate stress and uncertainty by developing a plan.|
We began a dialogue that lasted a few months. I was able to help bring structure and predictability to his club’s program. We also exchanged speaker contact information and I put him in touch with program chairs at other clubs.
So, if the above description fits you, let’s start at the beginning. Find an online or printed calendar or scheduler. Let’s go to work.
Step One – Spotlight on Rotary
Club focused programs should be given top priority in the schedule. That doesn’t mean committee chairs can take advantage of program scheduling by procrastinating about booking their program. It is not fair to expect you to cancel speakers booked long in advance to accommodate their lack of planning.
· Youth exchange – outbound, inbound
· Rotary Foundation
· District Governor visit
· Local projects, international projects
· Club assemblies
· Designated cancelations (holidays, etc.)
· President changeover
· Classification talks
Step 2 Developing Content Formulas
The next step is to identify benchmark dates that respond to club, community or national occassions. Our club is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, so I am using dates relevant to our club.
· National Independence Day (Canada Day)
· Canadian Football League Grey Cup
· New Years
· Calgary Stampede
· Valentine’s Day
|Rotarians don't always have to wear business dress.|
Our club schedules an annual Ho Down to celebrate our world famous Calgary Stampede. We bring in a country band, arrange for the Stampede Queen and Princesses to visit, and feature line dancing, two step dancing and sometimes square dancing. We have a western meal and members and guests dress in their best cowboy and cowgirl outfits.
For Halloween, we book a magician. We ask members to wear costumes and add to the atmosphere and fun by purchasing cheap masks for those who don’t dress up.
A former professional football player or coach is booked for the week prior to Canada’s Grey Cup game. At Christmas, we often schedule a choir from a school we support to provide a mini Christmas concert.
A Valentine’s Day is often difficult to book. You don’t want a “preachy” finger waving lecture on "real love" or a syrupy presentation.
While throwing ideas back and forth in our committee, it was laughingly suggested we should book a divorce lawyer. After the laughter stopped, we recognized that the subject had merit for a future program.
We booked a marriage enrichment program for valentines and the lawyer a few months later. Both programs were excellent. The lawyer outdrew the councillor in attendance.
Step 3 Building it Forward
Now we can move to the free-flow part of the strategy. Here, the possibilities are endless. The bottom line is, what value will a program bring to club members? What are the takeaways?
· Relevance – To some area of our daily lives.
· Information – Personal, family, business, or community living.
· Interest – What are club members interested in? What should they be interested in?
· Education – Science, history, literature, health, economics, politics, sports
· Entertainment – Sometimes we need break
· Anniversaries – Notable benchmarks in the club or community.
· Motivation/Inspirational – Uplifting, encouraging, enriching.
· Timeliness – of any topic is always good.
Step 4 Speaker Prospecting
So, where do you find great speakers? The answer is, pretty well anywhere. I booked a speaker that I met at a funeral.
But in reality, having committee members who are connected within different sectors in the community will pay off in spades. Including sales professionals and others who cut a wide swath will also help.
The important dynamic is to develop an awareness and be consistently thinking about program potential. When you find follow this plan you will soon find that you will have more potential speakers than you can use in one year.
· Personal/professional network.
· Prospecting (media features, online profiles, organization leaders).
· Referrals (other clubs, members, speakers).
· Club funded NFPs.
· Select other NFPs.
· LinkedIn or other Social Media
· Specialists within the club.
Develop a Prequalified List
When you meet a prospect and get an expression of interest in speaking, make sure you exchange contact info. Sometimes it takes a year or more for all of the stars to line up.
Don’t be shy. I have found professional speakers who charge 5 figure amounts are often the easiest to book because they have a high respect for Rotary. The only problem is scheduling.
I’ve left the most obvious until last. Rotary is about service, so learning about needs in the community or the world is a no brainer. Topics like polio vaccinations, micro-credit, clean water, troubled youth, families, abuse, homelessness, hunger, aides orphans, youth sports, the environment and hundreds more quality programs about topics like these will be available.
A quick word of caution. Every NFP in the world wants to speak at every service club possible for obvious reasons; raising funds. Most Executive Directors are excellent presenters who respect speaker protocols. Most are well prepared, have engaging PowerPoints or videos with moving testimonies of those whose lives have been dramatically saved or changed – you get the picture.
However, booking too many NFPs in a row, regardless of how powerful their presentations, will soon become one too many.
On another side, I’ve heard NFPs come across as “canned” and lacking in passion. The worst ones show their financials near the beginning of their presentation. In our club, member attention switches are quickly turned off.
This is what I suggest recommending.
· Tell your story. Speak from your heart.
· Talk about the benefits, lives changed or reclaimed. What difference does your organization make?
· Emphasize that the meeting is not the time to talk about money except for a brief mention. Do not show financials, a breakdown of funding support, or anything remotely related. Ever!
· Suggest that funding requests can come at a later date through the formal club process.
· Brochures, newsletters and other informational documents should be freely available and be left on each table.
Robyn Braley is a marketing specialist, keynote speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. Robyn has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360.
Other Blogs in the Series
Part 2 A Winning Strategy for Building Strong Rotary Club Speaker Programs
Public Speaking Tips for Leaders
Public Speaking Tips for Leaders