Course Code: COMM2
In this course, you will learn how to communicate in public and how to manage relationships with external organizations. You will also find out about the 7 I path of associative communication and you will learn how to create an effective website for volunteering purposes and utilise other IT strategies to promote your activities.
Duration: 45 m.
Author/Source: REVEAL Staff
Tags: communication, courses, training, volunteering
Starting: 21/11/2012 Ending: 01/01/2014
How to communicate in public
Many people will indicate public speaking as one of the activities that they fear the most. It is easy to see why this is. When people speak in public they are potentially being judged and exposing themselves to possible criticism from others.. To meet the challenges from the audience you will need to spend time planning what you will say and do. The following is a set of factors that you need to take into account when communicating in public.
Getting to know the topic: Most of the work that goes into a public speech is undertaken well before the day. The speech is just the top of the iceberg. If time is not spent researching the subject, the speech could be a disaster.
Organising and sequencing your information:
You need to first decide the information you want to present. All information is not of equal value and its value depends on the purpose for which the speech is intended. Also, the order of the information you present will depend on what your topic is. Some topics will require information to be presented in a set order, while others could be presented in any number of ways. In most cases you will be able to see a logical order, but you can also use: a story, a demo, audiovisual aids, role play or examples. Whatever methods you choose it should be suitable for the topic and the audience, and the message should be clear and easily understood by the audience. Therefore, avoid using words that the audience will not understand.
Building relationships with the audience: In order to ensure that your speech is interesting and engaging you will need to know a little bit about the audience. You will need to find out what they are already aware of, what their interest is in being there and what they want to get out of attending. Being able to build up a relationship with the audience at the beginning of your speech is important as it sets the tone for the speech. This relationship will facilitate a connection between you and the audience. It will assist you to feel more comfortable and it will help to gain the attention and interest of the audience.
Nothing is more boring than listening to someone read from a piece of paper without addressing the audience directly or even making eye contact. One strategy to build up this connection is using ice-breakers, to gain the attention and interest of the audience. The type of ice-breaker you use will be guided by the audience, the formality of the occasion, the time you have available, the size of your audience and the aim of your presentation. Examples include: games or activities, a welcome or greeting, a short story that relates to your audience, or a joke, using pictures or audio, to introduce yourself.
Feedback from the audience: You may want to ask audience’s feedback on previous experiences in public speaking, training or teaching. Engaging the audience provides people with the opportunity to meet some of their needs and it enhances your connection with the group. It also provides opportunities for members of the audience to clarify their understanding and offer different perspectives. Audience participation can be stimulated by asking for questions, examples, comments and by organising activities that involve the audience.
Respect your audience and other speakers: Going overtime can be very annoying for both the audience and other speakers. It is therefore important to keep to the time allocated by planning in advance how long the speech takes, by estimating interruptions and allowing time for participation. Moreover treat others with respect; there are no stupid questions or answers. Furthermore when you engage in public speaking you are representing certain groups or organisations, there may be policies or protocols that you need to be aware of. You should therefore follow any relevant organisational protocols for public speaking.
Communicating with your body: People often think that messages are mostly communicated through spoken words and the tone of their voice. Yet what people do with their bodies while they are talking often communicates much more, and really makes the difference in public speaking.
Using your voice effectively: Have you ever been forced to listen to a presentation on something that you thought would be very interesting, but struggled to stay awake? The way you use your voice can either stimulate an audience or it can cause them to just fall asleep. There are a number of factors that make the difference in delivering a speech:
- Pace, often a speech can seem boring because it is being delivered too slowly or is taking too long. You need to deliver your speech fast enough to maintain the interest of the audience, but not so fast that the audience has trouble following what you are saying.
- Tone and pitch: using one tone all the time is a good way to induce sleep, while altering your tone or pitch too often can be over-stimulating. The tone and pitch used should match the content of your speech and your audience’s feedback.
- Volume and clarity: make sure your sound equipment works properly, since getting the volume right at the beginning and speaking clearly will avoid you experiencing calls from the audience telling you to ´speak up´.
- Enthusiasm: enthusiastic presenters create enthusiastic audiences. If you seem to be really interested in a topic then the audience will think that it is a topic worth being interested in.
Communication with external organizations
The importance of external communication for NGOs
What is associative communication and how does it work
Maintaining effective external communication is essential to every non-profit activity. But in order to succeed in this aspect, you first of all need to determine your communication strategy, which is a clear definition of who you are and what you offer. Nothing more. And nothing less.
With strong competition in today’s marketplace, non-profit organizations are increasingly aiming to develop effective communication approaches to ensure their goals. Here are some hints to strengthen your approaches to communication:
State who you are. Identify words and phrases that characterize your organization. What does your current brand identity say about you? What themes emerge? Remember that your brand is more than just a logo; it is the relationship that you have with your key audiences and includes all of the attributes that define your organization’s essence and all the important work it does.
Create your message. First of all, you want to convey the message and identify the essence of your NGO, i.e., your message should convey its mission and vision. The words and phrases that you use to talk about your organization are critical to your success. Highlight the benefits and minimize the real and perceived challenges for your audience. You may also want to rephrase your mission and vision statements in terms of this message.
Know your audience. Who are you talking to? Who can help you meet your mission? Audiences may include donors, companies, community or political leaders, media, volunteers, staff, or others. Sometimes we want to please everyone who interacts with our organization, but prioritizing is essential. Determine your top three audiences. What are their demographics and what are their motivations? Then, determine what you want each audience to do. What are the benefits they receive by engaging with your organization and how will you reach them? Create a list of key stakeholders who will help you identify the needs, perspectives and areas of improvement for your organization. When it comes to building relationships with external organizations, there is no substitute for making personal contact with the individuals who can help you accomplish your mission. It´s advisable to periodically schedule face-to-face meetings with external organizations and media. Periodic telephone calls to specified contacts can also be an effective way to maintain individualized contact with external organizations. The time you spend making sure that the lines of communication are open between your charity and the individuals who can help you create a communication network is always time well spent and those external contacts are likely to remain loyal to your organization for many years to come.
Spread your message. Determine the best marketing activities to promote your organization. Be sure they offer the right approach in reaching your key audiences where they are likely to obtain information. Activities might include media outreach, direct mail, corporate sponsorship or special events. Also, creating a newsletter is a great way to let interested parties know about your NGO’s recent accomplishments, current projects, and future goals. It also provides an excellent vehicle for recognizing the contributions of outstanding donors.
Communication is a duty. Your communications are only as strong as those delivering them. Make sure that each member of your staff, board, and volunteer program has a clear understanding of the message points, and knows how to deliver them. Ensure that each person has a clear understanding of the goals of the communication, and does not have any outstanding questions or agendas that have not been addressed. Develop a communications guide that can be used internally. Once you have a strong brand that can be presented to your audiences, make sure that everyone understands his or her role in supporting the organization’s success. Whether it’s direct service, fundraising, event management, operations, or answering the phone, each person needs to know their role in telling your organization’s story.
Evaluate. Make sure that you have evaluated all aspects of your brand. Do they meet the needs of each audience? Are they consistent? Make sure that each piece reinforces a consistent communications platform. It is important to evaluate your successes and challenges on a regular basis, to ensure that stumbling blocks are addressed, successes are shared and built upon, and that key audiences are engaged. Be honest about changes that need to be made, and make them.
By associative communication we mean exchanging information by expressing something (like requests, assertions etc.) to a broad audience; this situation can be contrasted with the one arising from exchanging information by sending messages to a specific target. We call this form of communication ”associative" because agents having access to the delivered information associate with it if they possess the properties required for its processing. A lot of the communication which goes on in real life is, in this sense, associative: electoral speeches, calling a taxi, booking a flight through a travel agency etc. In general, all human conversations are associative, since, although the speaker may address one specific listener, all other listeners are also exposed to her/his speech, to which they can react.
The "7 I path” shown below can help you think how to apply associative communication strategies.
Identification: Knowing what you do in order to tell others. You need to define clearly what are the services and products that you provide as a NGO. Also a SWOT analysis may be helpful at this point to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as a NGO.
Investigation: Learn where to find useful information and how to organize it. Ask public administrations and stakeholders, other associations, local and national official statistics, your beneficiaries. Get close to your recipients, audiences, donors and society in general in order to know their needs.
Interest: Why do you communicate? You share a common interest with those related to your NGO and that should be your interest. Sometimes we forget that communication should interest other parties. You cannot limit yourself to telling your story…your story should be of interest to others.
Interlocutors: Now you know what to tell and why, you should now define to whom are you talking to. In volunteering associative communication there are a lot of audiences to take into account: volunteers, beneficiaries, promoters, sponsors and donors, public stakeholders, supporters, policy makers, related associations and the media. You need to adapt your message to each of these audiences recognizing their specific interests.
Imagination: Use your imagination when communicating, making sure people remember the information you want to share. First impressions matter, so don’t waste them.
Ideas: The following list contains possible communication tools and methods: individual tutoring, informative meetings, participation in volunteering activities, press releases, leaflets, information boards, activities reports, newsletters, videos, posters, radio interviews, websites, blogs, performances, meaningful gifts… use your imagination.
Internet: The World Wide Web is a huge source of opportunities. You can find information and resources- as well as reach thousands of users, supporters and participants- through websites, emails and other social media platforms. You can also get feedback through forums and blogs, and you can train your staff through courses like this one. And a lot of it is for FREE!
Basic use of IT in communication
How to create an effective website for volunteering agents and other IT strategies to promote your activities
Websites and other IT strategies are nothing more than tools and it is up to you to make them useful tools. Your tools are defined both by the goal of what you want to do, but also by the people – are they tools that the audience uses and likes? And the content- is that a platform or application that supports that kind of content? Similarly, the content is not just defined by the goal, but also by the tools at your disposal and the people who will consume it. So, what is the content you want to share? Do you want to be sharing what you know and learn with other volunteers? Inspiring and recruiting your friends to volunteer with you? Or are you trying to promote the organization? Start with the goal, and then complete the circle by identifying the people, the tools, and the content.
The content and structure you choose for your website must take into account three extremely important criteria, namely: usability, user-friendliness and accessibility. It goes without saying that your website must reflect your brand image, and it is always interesting to use good photos and videos of your NGO’s activities instead of stock photos, because they convey the “reality” of the messages.
As for communication in general, on your website you need to define clearly your mission and vision, along with your services, products and messages. Your users should not get lost. And when we speak about users, we mean all of them, being beneficiaries, donors, institutions, media, etc. Before you design and programme your website, it is worth spending a little bit of time thinking about what you want to achieve with it, who it is directed at, and what are the key messages to present. Otherwise the result can be messy and ineffective. It might be wise to structure contents according to the audience they are directed to. All contact details (email, phone numbers, fax, address, contact person, skype contact, facebook, youtube) and menus, however, must be easily accessible while the user navigates. Make it easy for them.
It´s becoming increasingly popular for non-profit organizations to publish a special section just for volunteers on their websites. By setting up and maintaining a volunteer communication centre on your group´s website, you´ll be creating an easy way to keep up with what is going on with the organization. The website can list volunteer opportunities, upcoming committee meetings, progress toward fundraising goals, and more. Depending on how sophisticated your website is, you can also provide opportunities for volunteers to upload documents, record hours worked and view volunteer training materials.
It is interesting to include polls, blogs and a forum on your website, since they are places where ideas and feedback can be collected. You will note that most websites do not have a user forum - a place where users can talk about volunteering related themes, ask questions, share tips, etc. It´s not advisable for an organization not to offer this. It is the simplest thing in the world to set up -- just use Google Groups or Yahoo Groups to set up a private group that only current users can join and where all messages are screened before they are posted. But be careful, they require a lot of work in terms of monitoring and answering to comments.
Websites are not just showcases. They are tools, and as such they must be “profitable”, you need to use them to get results (and if they are economic, even better). So make sure you include a donation section, or a “want to collaborate” section. Or you can include a training section, a tutoring section, a self-help section, and so on.
It is important that your website is constantly updated and lively; otherwise people will think that your NGO is not really “active”. In this sense it is useful to include a news & agenda section where you can upload news about your activities and about other associations’ activities in order to stimulate cooperation.
Many non-profit organizations send out a newsletter to external organizations, as well as to donors, funding agencies, consumer referral sources, volunteers and other groups on a monthly or quarterly basis. E-newsletters tend to be less expensive than printed newsletters that have to be mailed. However, if your volunteers are individuals who aren´t likely to read an electronic document, this method might not meet your needs effectively. However, if the people you are trying to reach are web savvy and frequently check their email accounts, an electronic version can be very effective.
When you create a website your primary goal is to reach thousands of people, but there are also many other means that you should use in your communication plan that reach the same goal and are FREE. You just have to create them according to your organisations´s aims and objectives philosophy.
Here are some examples:
Social networking and online communities: Online social networks connect people who have similar interests and know each other. Charities are beginning to experiment with these online networks as a way of finding a new generation of supporters and campaigners. There’s nothing to lose in joining these networks and it could turn out to be the best way to engage with a new generation of volunteers. Spread the message about the volunteering opportunities you have on offer. Ask your current volunteers to engage in online conversations with others about the volunteer work they do for your organisation. Give people the tools and information they need to get involved. Share your volunteering experiences and inspire others to do the same. These networks can help you engage ´hard to reach´ communities. Therefore create your own profile as a NGO in social networks such as Facebook, linkedin or twitter.
On Twitter, look up hashtags that your community uses and follow them to track conversations. Be sure to use relevant (but not spammy!) hashtags in your posts to connect them to related topics.
On Facebook, you can create your page, advertise your events and establish relationships. Just make sure you use Facebook in way it is in line with your organisation´ image. Your NGO is being judged.
On LinkedIn, consider creating or using the Subgroups functionality so that you could manage a group of volunteers or peers in a subgroup within the organization’s main group. When sharing messages, use LinkedIn’s filtering options for location and job field to refine your recipients list to those more applicable. If you host or organize events, whether they are major conferences or small weekend volunteering projects, consider creating LinkedIn events for them so that people can RSVP and show from their personal profile that they are planning to participate.
Youtube and flickr are popular websites where you can upload, watch and share video clips (youtube) and photos (flickr), creating your own channel. Use descriptions and keywords to spread your messages.
Message boards and online forums: These platforms have proved to be particularly popular with health charities, creating networks for people dealing with volunteering. They can be used to get advice, seek support, chat and share experiences.
Press releases: there are a lot of websites where you can upload your news release for free, in order to help spread your Internet presence and popularity. Make sure you include your website link in every public communication you send out.
Directories: There are thousands of free listing directories. Make sure your NGO contact data is listed in the correct category so users can easily find you.
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