10 Keys To Writing A Speech

“This is my time.”

1

That attitude will kill a speech every time.
You’ve probably sat through some lousy speeches. Despite the speakers’ renown, you eventually tuned them out over their self-indulgent tangents and pointless details. You understood something these speakers apparently didn’t: This was your time. They were just guests. And your attention was strictly voluntary.

Of course, you’ll probably deliver that speech someday. And you’ll believe your speech will be different. You’ll think, “I have so many important points to make.” And you’ll presume that your presence and ingenuity will dazzle the audience. Let me give you a reality check: Your audience will remember more about who sat with them than anything you say. Even if your best lines would’ve made Churchill envious, some listeners will still fiddle with their smart phones.

In writing a speech, you have two objectives: Making a good impression and leaving your audience with two or three takeaways. The rest is just entertainment. How can you make those crucial points? Consider these strategies:

1) Be Memorable: Sounds easy in theory. Of course, it takes discipline and imagination to pull it off. Many times, an audience may only remember a single line. For example, John F. Kennedy is best known for this declaration in his 1961 inaugural address: “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what can do for your country.” Technically, the line itself uses contrast to grab attention. More important, it encapsulated the main point of Kennedy’s speech: We must sublimate ourselves and serve to achieve the greater good. So follow Kennedy’s example: Condense your theme into a 15-20 word epigram and build everything around it top-to-bottom.
There are other rhetorical devices that leave an impression. For example, Ronald Reagan referred to America as “a shining city on the hill” in speeches. The image evoked religious heritage, freedom, and promise. And listeners associated those sentiments with Reagan’s message. Conversely, speakers can defy their audience’s expectations to get notice. In the movie Say Anything, the valedictorian undercut the canned optimism of high school graduation speeches with two words: “Go back.” In doing so, she left her audience speechless…for a moment, at least.
Metaphors…Analogies…Surprise…Axioms. They all work. You just need to build up to them…and place them in the best spot (preferably near the end).

2) Have a Structure: Think back on a terrible speech. What caused you to lose interest? Chances are, the speaker veered off a logical path. Years ago, our CEO spoke at our national meeting. He started, promisingly enough, by outlining the roots of the 2008 financial collapse. Halfway through those bullet points, he jumped to emerging markets in Vietnam and Brazil. Then, he drifted off to 19th century economic theory. By the time he closed, our CEO had made two points: He needed ADD medication – and a professional speechwriter!

Audiences expect two things from a speaker: A path and a destination. They want to know where you’re going and why. So set the expectation near your opening on what you’ll be covering. As you write and revise, focus on structuring and simplifying. Remove anything that’s extraneous, contradictory, or confusing. Remember: If it doesn’t help you get your core message across, drop it.

3) Don’t Waste the Opening: Too often, speakers squander the time when their audience is most receptive: The opening. Sure, speakers have people to thank. Some probably need time to get comfortable on stage. In the meantime, the audience silently suffers.

When you write, come out swinging. Share a shocking fact or statistic. Tell a humorous anecdote related to your big idea. Open with a question – and have your audience raise their hands. Get your listeners engaged early. And keep the preliminaries short. You’re already losing audience members every minute you talk. Capitalize on the goodwill and momentum you’ll enjoy in your earliest moments on stage.

4) Strike the Right Tone: Who is my audience? Why are they here? And what do they want? Those are questions you must answer before you even touch the keyboard. Writing a speech involves meeting the expectations of others, whether it’s to inform, motivate, entertain, or even challenge. To do this, you must adopt the right tone.
Look at your message. Does it fit with the spirit of the event? Will it draw out the best in people? Here’s a bit of advice: If you’re speaking in a professional setting, focus on being upbeat and uplifting. There’s less risk. Poet Maya Angelou once noted, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Even if your audience forgets everything you said, consider your speech a success if they leave with a smile and a greater sense of hope and purpose. That’s a message in itself. And it’s one they’ll share.

5) Humanize Yourself: You and your message are one-and-the-same. If your audience doesn’t buy into you, they’ll resist your message too. It’s that simple. No doubt, your body language and delivery will leave the biggest impression. Still, there are ways you can use words to connect.

Crack a one liner about your butterflies; everyone can relate to being nervous about public speaking. Share a story about yourself, provided it relates to (or transitions to) your points. Throw in references to your family, to reflect you’re trustworthy. And write like you’re having a casual conversation with a friend. You’re not preaching or selling. You’re just being you. On stage, you can be you at your best.

6) Repeat Yourself: We’ve all been there. When someone is speaking, we’ll drift off to a Caribbean beach or the Autobahn. Or, we’ll find ourselves lost and flustered when we can’t grasp a concept. Once you’ve fallen behind, it’s nearly impossible to pay attention. What’s the point?

In writing a speech, repetition is the key to leaving an impression. Hammer home key words, phrases, and themes. Always be looking for places to tie back and reinforce earlier points. And repeat critical points as if they were a musical refrain.

As a teenager, my coach continuously reminded us that “nothing good happens after midnight.” He’d lecture us on the dangers of partying, fighting, peer pressure, and quitting. After a while, my teammates and I just rolled our eyes. Eventually, we encountered those temptations. When I’d consider giving in, coach would growl “Schmitty” disapprovingly in my head. Despite my resistance, coach had found a way to get me to college unscathed. He simply repeated his message over-and-over until it stuck.

Some audience members may get annoyed when you repeat yourself. But don’t worry how they feel today. Concern yourself with this question: What will they remember six months from now?
7) Use Transitions: Sometimes, audiences won’t recognize what’s important. That’s why you use transitional phrases to signal intent. For example, take a rhetorical question like “What does this mean” – and follow it with a pause. Silence gets attention – and this tactic creates anticipation (along with awakening those who’ve drifted off). Similarly, a phrase like “So here’s the lesson” also captures an audience’s interest. It alerts them that something important is about to be shared. Even if they weren’t paying attention before, they can tune in now and catch up.

8) Include Theatrics: During his workshops, Dr. Stephen Covey would fill a glass bowl nearly full with sand. From there, he’d ask a volunteer to place rocks into the bowl. In the exercise, rocks represented essentials like family, job, worship, and exercise, while the bowl signified the volunteer’s time and energy. It never failed: The volunteer couldn’t fit every rock in the bowl. The sand – which embodied day-to-day activities like transporting children, shopping, or reading – took up too much space. Something had to be cut. Usually, it was something essential.

Covey would then encourage his volunteer to consider another option: Start with placing a rock in the bowl, adding some sand, and then alternating rocks and sand until the bowl was full. Like magic, there was suddenly enough space for both, as the sand gradually filled any gaps between the rocks. The message: Maintain balance. Never lose sight of the essentials as you tend to the day-to-day (and vice versa).

Of course, Covey could’ve made his point verbally and moved on. Instead, he illustrated it with household items in a way his audience wouldn’t soon forget. If you have a smaller audience (or a video screen), consider incorporating visuals. Keep the props, storyline, and lesson simple. When you’re done, leave everything out to symbolize your point to your audience. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. If you do, your speech will be forgotten in no time.

9) End Strong: In 2004, I attended a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference. I don’t recall much about our keynote speaker, except that he was tall and southern. I can’t even remember what his address was about. But I’ll never forget the story he used to close his speech.

The speaker was a friend of Jerry Richardson, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. A few years earlier, the Panthers had drafted a fiery wide receiver named Steve Smith. While Smith excelled on the field, he was a nightmare in the locker room. Eventually, Smith was arrested for assaulting a teammate during film study.
Already reeling from bad publicity from other player incidents, Richardson was pressured to cut Smith. But he chose a different path. Richardson vowed to spend more time with Smith. He decided that Smith would be better served with guidance and caring than further punishment. Eventually, Richardson’s patience paid off. Smith became the Panthers’ all-time leading receiver – and scored a touchdown in their only Super Bowl appearance. In fact, Smith still plays for the Panthers to this day.

If the speaker intended to remind me how powerful that personal attention and forgiveness could be, he succeeded in spades. Fact is, your close is what your audience will remember. So recap your biggest takeaway. Tie everything together. Share a success story. Make a call to action. Don’t hold anything back. Your ending is what audience will ultimately talk about when they head out the door.

10) Keep it Short: What is the worst sin of public speaking? It’s trying to do too much! Your audience’s attention will naturally wane after a few minutes. They have other places to be – and don’t want to be held hostage. And the longer you stay on stage, the more likely you are to stray and make mistakes. So make your points and sit down. Never forget: This is their time, not yours.

 

Source Jeff Schmitt – Forbes.com 

http://onforb.es/PsOlcn

10 Restaurant Chains to ask for Donations NOW

This will save you hours of time compared to finding all these fundraising auction item sources on your own. When requesting items for your charity auction, be prepared to provide your non-profit 501(c)(3) number. You should request item donations at least six weeks ahead of time, but some businesses want to hear from you at least 90 days before your event. Many companies also limit their donations in various ways, so it’s best to apply as early as possible. Links are to each company’s donation page. Remember that when requesting any kind of donation, you should always explain “what’s in it for them”. For the company, this would mean explaining the publicity & promotional opportunities their donation provides, the demographics of your event, estimated attendance, amounts raised in previous years, and how the funds that are raised this year will be used.

Canada only. Offers donated products for charity events in communities where they operate.

Canada only. Offers donated products for charity events in communities where they operate.

Regularly makes in-kind donations to local community events and fundraisers

Regularly makes in-kind donations to local community events and fundraisers

Provides $25 gift cards to schools and non-profit organizations. Send your donation request letter to the attention of the General Manager at the restaurant closest to you.!

Provides $25 gift cards to schools and non-profit organizations. Send your donation request letter to the attention of the General Manager at the restaurant closest to you.

$100 gift certificate for a dozen cookies per month for a year (AZ, CO, IN, MA, NE, TX, UT only).!

$100 gift certificate for a dozen cookies per month for a year (AZ, CO, IN, MA, NE, TX, UT only).

Laudrey's, Inc. Donates a $25 gift card to 501c(3) charities that benefit the local communities of our restaurants. Own's 40 different restaurant chains with 450 locations including Landry's Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton's Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick's, Mastro's Restaurants and the Rainforest Cafe.!

Laudrey’s, Inc. Donates a $25 gift card to 501c(3) charities that benefit the local communities of our restaurants. Own’s 40 different restaurant chains with 450 locations including Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s Restaurants and the Rainforest Cafe.

Supports charitable organizations in our restaurants’ local! communities. Contact the Operating Partner or any manager at your local P.F. Chang’s to inquire about charitable giving availability.!

Supports charitable organizations in our restaurants’ local communities. Contact the Operating Partner or any manager at your local P.F. Chang’s to inquire about charitable giving availability.

Provides several printable coupons good for a free pint of ice cream for your fundraiser event (schools and non-profits).!

Provides several printable coupons good for a free pint of ice cream for your fundraiser event (schools and non-profits).

Donates gift cards to nonprofit groups for fundraising purposes. They have a list of criteria your request letter must include, then mail or drop off the request at your local Cracker Barrel.!

Donates gift cards to nonprofit groups for fundraising purposes. They have a list of criteria your request letter must include, then mail or drop off the request at your local Cracker Barrel.!

Provides a restaurant gift certificate to a limited number of non- profit organizations.!

Provides a restaurant gift certificate to a limited number of non- profit organizations.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma and Arkansas and California

North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma and Arkansas and California

3 Ways to Get More Business Donations & Raise More Money

shutterstock_94784032

Many national companies prefer to use a single point of contact to help streamline their donation
request fulfillment process. Clearinghouses fulfill this function by helping match schools and
nonprofit organizations with businesses that want to help.

Most clearinghouses offer both a free service platform and a paid one. My suggestion is to try
the free platform and see if you like it.

If you do, then it’s well worth the extra fee to use the paid platform. Why? Because it provides
even more business donation matches for your group and therefore helps you raise a lot more
money.

The best one – and the easiest to use – is called Donation Match.
Donation Match – Find hundreds of donated items for fundraising auctions, raffles, gift bags, or
giveaways with just a few clicks. Use their custom application to reach multiple companies and
brands who value your event audiences, all in one place. This is as easy peasy at it gets!

Bidding For Good – Primarily does online auctions for nonprofit groups, but also has donated
items from businesses that they can add to your auction. This is an easy way to raise money
online as long as you have enough active supporters willing to make enough bids online.

Good360 – This is a good source for surplus products from businesses. NOTE: These product
donations cannot be auctioned off to raise funds. These products also cannot be sold, traded or
bartered or be given as gifts to volunteers or sold in thrift shops. All product donations MUST be
given to the needy, ill, and youth that you serve in your community. Groups must also pay
administrative fees and shipping charges.

How Often Should You Thank Recurring Donors?

thank-you-road-sign

People often ask, is it important to thank a recurring donor every month?  The answer depends on how they gave in the first place.

When the Recurring Donation Comes Through Offline Methods.

When someone becomes a recurring donor offline, say through direct mail, telemarketing, face to face, TV, or any other ‘offline’ medium, Ialways recommend sending an immediate snail mail thank you letter for joining but then after that NOT to send .donors monthly thank you letters.

It costs money to send a thank you via snail mail which defeats the purpose of having someone join as a recurring donor. However, you should send a tax receipt in January of all their gifts, so they have it for their records and, of course, you should always thank the donors in your annual appeals, recognizing them as special.

Online Recurring Donor Receipts: Make them Personal and Special

For online credit card recurring donors, where a monthly thank you email is typically generated automatically, I recommend something slightly different.

Definitely send a snail mail letter to thank the donor for joining the recurring giving program andsend the tax receipt via snail mail (and email) in January.

But you’ll also have to make an extra effort to alternate the monthly thank you receipts. You’re certainly not treating these donors special if you keep sending the same standard thank you month after month. These donors are making a considerable ongoing contribution to your organization so you should treat them special.

While I like PayPal and Network for Good a lot for their ease of use in having donors join a recurring giving program, their email receipts are not great. In the “off the shelf” versions of these services your org can’t change the messages, although customization is available in Network for Good’s Donate Now option.   Just take a look at these automatically generated receipts:

PayPal

You sent an automatic payment

Hello e waasdorp,

You sent an automatice payment to Marstons Mills Public Library, Inc. Here are the details:

Amount: $5.00

To: Marston Mills Public Library, Inc

For:

Customer service URL: http://www.xxxxx

Customer service email: smartn@xxxxxx.org

Customer service phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Automatic payment details:

And here’s a Network For Good example

From: donations@networkforgood.org

Date: May 21, 2014 at 6:23:51 AM MST
To: xxxx

Subject: Thank you for your donation!

The following donation(s) were scheduled to be processed today per instructions from pledge(s) you’ve made in the past.

Nonprofit Organization: NAME
Frequency: Monthly

On behalf of your favorite charity(ies), we thank you for your generous support! By making an automated donation online through Network for Good, you have chosen one of the most efficient and cost effective ways to give to charity.

Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. You may save or print this receipt for your records and the information will be conveniently stored in your donation history for you to access at any time.  This email certifies that you have made this donation as a charitable contribution and you are not receiving any goods or services in return.  This receipt may be useful to you when completing your tax return.

Your credit card will be billed as Network for Good instead of the names of the organizations receiving the funds because your donation is to the Network for Good Donor Advised Fund (tax ID 68-0480736), which will re-grant your donation to the charity/ies you designated.  All donations are final and may not be refunded. Your donation has been processed as follows:

Name: xxx

Address: xxxx
City: xxxx
State/Province: xx
Zip/Postal Code: xxx

E-mail: xxx
Phone: xxx

Total Donation Amount: $10.50

Method of Payment: Visa
Name on Credit Card: xx

Credit Card Last 4 Digits: xxxx
Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Time: 9:23 AM EDT
Reference Number: xxxxxxxxxxx

These have been abbreviated here, but they both continue in this dry legalistic way. And this  ‘standard approach’ does not apply to just PayPal or Network for Good receipts. We can certainly explain why these two are just not able to make it any more personal because it’s not the organization issuing them, they’re just the ‘middle man’ if you will. The sad news is that I have seen even several large organizations with other credit card processing systems where the email receipts are not very good either when they could be much better.

Do the above email receipts seem special to you? Do they tell the donor about the impact their gift is making? Absolutely not. A receipt is not a thank you.

How to Make a Better Impression

But, there is a simple solution that does not take that much time or extra resources, and it WILL make a world of difference to the recurring donor you’re trying to keep and in the future upgrade to higher levels.

If all is well, you should have already coded these recurring donors in your email list as a special segment. If not, start doing this as soon as possible! You’ll benefit from it in the short and long run!

Here is a simple recommendation to address the issue of recurring donor receipts that does not take that much time:

1. Create a special variation of your email newsletter to include a thank you to your recurring donor

I trust that you’re sending out an email newsletter or message to your donors at least once a month. If so, I recommend creating a slight variation of the email introduction that simply says:

Thank you for being such a great member of the Circle of Friends (fill in name of your monthly giving group). You make a difference to the many people (animals) etc. we serve (fill in specifics)… Thanks to you we’re able to have the funds to…    (fill in specifics).

Then go into the rest of your email blast announcing upcoming events and activities… or better yet tell the story about one of your clients. Do not repeat the amount and date of their gift in this email but focus on the fact that they are such a loyal donor to your organization and they’re truly SPECIAL! You should be able to do this in the first few lines of your email newsletter.

This way, it gives the recurring donor that ‘special feeling.’  It’s not a lot of extra work on your part and it’s also less important at what time of the month you send that email. And believe it or not, you can occasionally even include an ask for money in some of those email blasts (but do fit it in with your overall communication strategy! If you’re already in the mail heavily, you may just use those email blasts as reminders.

The long and short of it is, you just told the recurring donor how special they are to your organization and the difference their ongoing gifts make. And, if you get feedback and testimonials from your recurring donors, don’t be afraid to use them. People love hearing from other donors confirming that they made the right decision (joining your recurring giving program)!

2. Send at least four special email thank yous at a minimum

If you are not yet sending a regular email newsletter now, I highly recommend you do at least four special email blast thank you emails to your recurring donors annually. They don’t have to be very long or elaborate, just personal and really appreciative. Many organizations tend to change up their typical snail mail thank you letters once a quarter, depending upon their annual fund schedule, so just make a simple email variation, work in the reference to being a recurring donor et voila!

I’m all for keeping things simple and manageable, so try to use what you already have in place and make small tweaks to accommodate the recurring donors. It is important to treat this special group special. You’ll continue to benefit from these recurring donors, month after month, for many years to come!

And, if you have questions or special email thank you notes to share, please feel free to email them to erica@adirectsolution.com.

Original article by Erica Waasdorp. She is the author of the hot new book, Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant.