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Section 20
Give Honest, Sincere Appreciation

Table of Contents

Your audience is composed of individuals.  Thus, they react like individuals.  Show your appreciation for something they have done that is worthy of praise, and they will appreciate you.  This often requires some research on your part.  Such generic phrases as “This is the most enthusiastic audience I have ever addressed,” may be perceived as hallow flattery by most audience members.  "I appreciate your taking meeting time to listen to my talk,”  is more sincere, if you feel appreciative, that is.  If you use an audience member as part of your demonstration of Shape Sorting, for example, state sincerely, "Thank you, (audience member's name) for being part of my example."  If you don't know her name, ask her when she has volunteered to be part of your demonstration.  State, "I'd like to demonstrate how I guided Hazel's hand for Shape Sorting.  Could I have a volunteer?"  After she or he raises their hand, ask, "What is your name?"  Use the audience members name in replacement of Hazel.  Insert his or her name in the script the Section on Demonstrations.  Be 100% sincere.  An insincere statement may occasionally fool an individual, but it never fools an audience.

Write two sentences below illustrating exactly how you would show appreciation to the group and then to an individual.

Statement of appreciation to the Group:



Statement of appreciation to an Individual:



Show your listeners you think their group is important
Why? …because you want them to like you.  Why do you want them to like you?  Because people are more likely to do something for someone they perceive as likable.  Right? 

So how do you show your listeners that they are important?  Well there are two ways I can think of.  One is by your very presence at their meeting you are showing them that they are important enough for you to travel to their meeting location and take the time from your schedule to give your Talk. 

However, here is a second way.  Tell them something about their group that they didn’t think you would know.  For example if speaking to a church group call the office a day or so before and ask approximately how many members the church has.  The secretary might say, "I know the church has over 1,000 members.”  Or ask the meeting Planner who scheduled you, "How long has this group been meeting and what topics do programs normally cover?"    
To facilitate this process of acquiring information about the group, below are some basic audience analysis questions to ask prior to your talk in the telephone conversation with the meeting planner.  You might say, "I like to know a little about the groups I speak to, before I give my Volunteer Recruitment Talk.  I have a few questions about your group.  Do you have a minute?"

(1) Have any other staff from our facility talked with your group before?
Probably they haven't, but you never know.  If they have, ask what the other member from your facility spoke about.  Ask for their impressions of the presentation. Who knows, maybe your Administrator spoke to the group last week, and you’ll want to reference his or her talk in a positive manner, leaving the group with the impression that the "left hand knows what the right hand is doing" at your facility.

(2) What’s the size of my audience?
The number of attendees won’t affect your topic, but it will affect the way you approach your topic. Why? Because small audiences and large audiences have different listen­ing personalities.

In general, the larger the audience, the greater your need to grab their attention.  Something to remember is… that woman in the fifth row of a large meeting knows you can’t see her very well—and if you don’t meet her needs, she will simply leave or not pay attention. If she’s sitting on an aisle seat, she’ll leave physically. If she’s stuck in the middle of a row, she’ll leave mentally—tuning you out as she fiddles with paperwork or chats with another person or maybe even takes a catnap. Either way, you’ll lose the chance to get your volunteering mes­sage across to her.  So if you know it will be a large group you can come energetically prepared to project your message to the back row.

(3) What’s the age range of the group?
If the group is in their teens or twenties, you can prepare yourself to give a high-energy, very fast-paced talk.  If the group is in their 70s, your energy and speed of presentation needs to match that of the group.  Knowing this ahead of time will help in your practice sessions to mentally visualize your presentation.  However if it is your basic run-of-the-mill church group with a smattering of people in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s this question may not be necessary.

(4) What is the gender mix?
As we know, most nursing home residents are female.  But if your listeners are male and female, you will want to change the hypothetical names in your illustrations, examples, and stories to include a mix of male and female names. Change Hazel, in the Shape Sorting example in the next section, to Harry, if your group has male members.  Having this alternate name in mind ahead of time, rather than "winging it" will be a great confidence builder.

(5) Will the audience have any special members?
You might want to extend a spe­cial welcome, for example, if one of the members was just elected president of the group, or just had his or her anniversary, birthday, etc.  "I understand Sarah here (gesture towards her) had just been elected president.  Congratulations, and thank you for allowing me this time in your meeting!"  Do you see how this connects you with their group?
(6) Where do these people work? What are their titles?
This question you will not ask 100% of the time, especially if it is a church group, because in this case there will be a large variety and a good number may be retired or not working.  But this question is important if you are addressing a group of accountants, as opposed to a group of artists.  Probably, accountants will relate better to your use of a lot of numbers, and artists to visual demonstrations.  The name of the group will let you know if you should ask this question or not.   You can then work this fact into your talk, "Being accountants you can relate to the fact that 90%..."  Or, “Being artists you can understand how a resident enjoys… (the beauty of the flowers at the Flower and Patio Show or Painting etc.)"

(7) What has their group accomplished?
If the group just finished a big fundraising campaign for the Heart Association, this provides you with an opportunity to say, "Sarah told me last month you surpassed your goal of raising $1000 for the Heart Association.  What an accomplishment!  That takes a lot of hard work.  You must be extremely proud.  I appreciate the fact that you are giving me time in your meeting to speak today.”

(8) How often does this group meet?
Every week? If so, they probably know each other pretty well, and their group dynamics are probably well estab­lished.
Just once a year? Then maybe they would rather socialize with seldom-seen friends than listen to a presentation that runs over the allotted amount of time.  Thus, if the group meets often, and "gets along" well, you will probably sense a very positive vibe from the group.  But if the opposite is true, and there has been some "in-fighting" in the group, you may feel a certain frostiness in their reception to your talk.  Just do your best to come across as professional, friendly, and competent.  As long as you have done that, don't take the latter personally.

(9) Who spoke at their last meeting?  Who is scheduled to speak at future meetings?
You need to know who has been influencing them.  This piece of information may help you to connect with the group.  The last presentation may have been from an Activity Director at another facility, or someone speaking on gasoline conservation.  You might state, "I know last week's speaker talked about gasoline conservation. So you might think about carpooling to the facility to volunteer."

(10) Does this group face any special problems?
Maybe the meeting place is going to be changed.  Perhaps they have problems with several members unable to attend due to illness, vacation, sick relatives, pregnancy, etc.

How do you use this information?  As in the examples above, just casually drop these pieces of information into a sentence or two.  However, be careful not to "make a big deal" out of this information in an attempt to take credit for the extra home work you did in acquiring the information, or else it may back-fire by coming across as pompous and insecure.  Here's a couple more examples as to how you might slip your bit of research in. 

State at the start of your talk...
"I understand this group has met every other Thursday at 1:00 for the last year.  Barbara told me last week’s presenter reviewed a book for you.  I don't know that my presentation will be as entertaining/dramatic/comedic/etc. as "(book title)" but I plan give you some insights into the Activity Program at XYZ Convalescent Center.  We’re the one located…"
Or state towards the end of you talk...
"I understand from the church secretary that St. Luke's has over 1,000 members, if there are other groups that you belong to or know of that would like to find out more about the Activity Program at XYZ Convalescent Center and our volunteering opportunities, write the group name after your name on the sheet of paper I will be circulating now."

Do you see how these simple facts let the listener know their group was important enough for you to find out something about them in preparing your talk?  This awareness by your listener may not happen at a conscious level, but hopefully leaves a subconscious positive impression.

Type the questions below into Excel or Word to make your own form for you to complete after you book a Volunteer Recruitment Talk.

1.  Have any other staff from your facility talked with this group before?

2. What’s the size of my audience?

3. What’s the age range of the group?

4. What is the gender mix?

5. Will the audience have any special members?

6. Where do these people work? What are their titles?

7. What has this group accomplished?

8. How often does this group meet?

9. Who spoke at their last meeting?  Who is scheduled to speak at future meetings?

10. Does this group face any special problems?

Forward to Section 21
Back to Section 19

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