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Section 24
How to Request Your Listener to Volunteer

Table of Contents | NCCAP/NCTRC CE Booklet

If you decide to use the method of…  
            1. explaining one of your activity programs, then telling a "resident story,"
            2. explaining another one of your activity programs,
            3. then telling a second story
Your stories will consume more than three-quarters of your time to speak.   Assume you are talking for 20 minutes; that leaves you with five minutes to bring home the desired action you want your listeners to take, that being… volunteering at your facility.  In that last five minutes you also need to drive home the benefit(s) they can expect as a result of doing what you ask.  At the conclusion of your talk the need for detail is over.  The time to make a forthright, direct assertion has come.  It is the reverse of a newspaper story.   By the reverse of a newspaper story, I mean, instead of having given the headline first, you gave the news story first and now you are giving the headline or your appeal to your listeners to take action by volunteering at your facility.  I have found success in constructing this ending step of… appealing to your listeners to volunteer at your facility is governed by four rules.

Rule #1 - Make your appeal to volunteering brief and specific

State your need for volunteers with sincerity.  Requesting your listeners to volunteer is the entire theme of your talk.  You should give, this final message, with sincerity and intention, belief, confidence and certainty.  As a headline stands out in block letters, your request for volunteers should be clear.  You are about to make your last impression on your listener.  Make it in such a way that the he or she feels the sincerity of your appeal for action.  There should be no uncertainty about what you are asking for.    This subtly persuasiveness of manner should carry over to your last words.
Write a few specific needs you have for volunteers referencing activities you have just spent 15 explaining.

Well I have just spent 15 minutes telling you a little about the activities program at XYZ Convalescent Center.  As you can

see our residents like Mary and (name) enjoy someone to visit them.  Also as you can see (gesturing to your Calendar)

we have Bingo on Wednesday at 2:00, Bible Study on….




Rule #2. State benefits of volunteering your listener may expect to receive
Here again brevity and economy of words is necessary.  In this "benefit" step you state the incentive or reward your listeners may expect if they volunteer.  State the benefit in a sentence or two and then close.  The best source for information in this part of your talk is your current volunteers.   Tell them you are preparing a Volunteer Recruitment Talk and would like to list benefits they experience for being a volunteer.  In close you state…

"I asked some of my current volunteers what they felt were the benefits they experienced from volunteering at our facility.  Here are some of their answers. (Here reading directly from a note card or paper is best and adds credibility.)
1. "One of the main benefits of volunteering at our facility is you get a chance to step out of your normal frame of reference and get involved with helping other people.  I find I forget my worries when I am focusing on someone else."
2.  "I think like a lot of people I take my health for granted.  Volunteering here makes me feel very grateful… and my little aches and pains don't seem like such a big deal by the time I leave the facility."
3.  "When I make a resident smile or their eyes light up when I talk to him or her, I know what I am doing is really, really important."
4. "I don't know exactly how to put it, but I just feel all glowy inside when I walk to the parking and leave the facility, like I have just done the right thing."

So in the words of my current volunteers, if you want to drop your worries for a while, feel important, and as one volunteer put it 'feel glowy,' sign the clip board along with your phone number and the best time for you to drop by the facility.  I will be calling you in the next couple of day to answer any questions you may have and to confirm the time you have selected" 

This last statement gives you a few days to make return calls, also to reschedule potential volunteers to visit the facility at times convenient for your schedule.  If possible, try to schedule two to come in at the same time.  This takes half your time by saying the same thing to two people together, rather than twice separately.  By no means leave it up to your potential volunteer to call you.  After all you are the one that wants something.  You want them to volunteer.  For that reason, the responsibility for the next contact is up to you, not them.  Agree?  If you just pass out business cards and hope they will call, you may have to wait a long, long time.  Be profession, confident, friendly, and sincere: this is your "call to action" the point of your entire talk… getting them to the next step of signing the clip board.

Write benefits of volunteering at your facility below.

Part One of Closing: Benefits of volunteering…







Rule #3 Make signing-up easy to do
Be precise and tell the audience exactly what you want them to do.  People will do only what they clearly understand.  It is essential to ask yourself just exactly what it is you want your listeners to do, now they have been disposed to taking action by an overview of your activities program highlighted by your examples and stories

It is a good idea to write the action step out into one or two sentences, trying to reduce the number of words and to make your language as clear and explicit as possible.  Don't say:  "Help the residents at our facility."  It is important to ask for an explicit action as stated at the end of my example above.
1. Tell them what you want them to do.
2. Tell them specifically what will happen if the sign up.  As repeated from above…
"…So in the words of my current volunteers, if you want to drop your worries for a while, feel important, and as one volunteer put it feel glowy, sign the clip board along with your phone number and the best time for you to drop by the facility.  I will be calling you in the next couple of day to answer any questions you may have and to confirm the time you have selected."

Speakers who give detailed actions are more apt to be successful in motivating their audiences than those who use generalities.  To say: "Sign the list I am circulating" is far better than to urge your listeners to, "Stop by the facility some time."  Do you agree?  Write in your own words how you will invite your listeners to sign the clip board your are circulating.

Part Two of Closing: Invite them to sign clipboard…




They are signing up for "Information"
Here is the top portion of a sample Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet.  Notice the heading clearly tells your potential volunteer what he or she is signing.  It also lists you facility address.  As mentioned earlier you would hate to have gone to all of this trouble only for your potential volunteer to show up at the wrong long term care facility and end up volunteering at that facility.  Notice this form is titled "Volunteer Information Sign-up Sheet" not "Volunteer Sign-up Sheet."  Commitment occurs in layers for many people.  They may commit to come to your facility to get more information, and then to decide if they in fact want to actually volunteer later.

Volunteer Information Sign-up Sheet
XYZ Convalescent Center, 742 Plain Ave, Indianapolis, IN


Phone number, best times to call

Best day and time to visit our facility










Rule #4. Use Handouts
Sarah Wernick, co-author of the best-selling Strong Women Stay Young stated two important details about the time she spoke on a panel at a nursing conference: (1) she was the only panelist who offered handouts; and (2) her presentation was very well received.  Are you surprised on either count? Most speakers don’t bother preparing handouts. Those who do, generally get good responses. The simple truth is, audiences love hand-outs. Provide them, and you will likely boost your success. In fact, conference planners tell me that speakers who pro­vide lots of good handouts typically get higher ratings from the audience on evaluation forms.  But handouts do present certain delivery problems. For example, if the audience gets the papers beforehand, they’ll be reading the material instead of listening to your presen­tation. In general, you’ll be smart to distribute the handouts after your presentation.

One practical suggestion: Be sure to have enough copies. I once watched an audience literally jump out of their seats to grab a very limited supply of handouts—interrupting the panel so they could get their share of the available copies.

Avoid this frenzy at all costs.  Be sure to include your full address on each handout so anyone interested can contact you down the road. You’ll be surprised how many people keep hand­outs.  The best time to circulate your hand out is after people have received the clip board to sign-up.  It might be as they file out of the room.  Below is a portion of a handout that lists your weekly program along with your name and phone number.
1. Notice when I gave my phone, I gave a direction, "Call me at…"  I don't like putting exact times on this sheet because if they call during that time and I am unavailable they may feel slighted, no matter how unrealistic that feeling is.  So I find when listing my phone number less detail is better than more. 
2. Notice also that I clearly told them what I wanted them to do and invited them to take action by stating, "I will be happy to answer any question you have and look forward to hearing from you." And at the end I stated,   "Feel free to circulate this information to others who may be interested."

Let them know that if they would like extras to give to someone who may be interested in volunteering but couldn't make it to the meeting.  By making your handout only half of a sheet long it seems more friendly and less intimidating.

Volunteer Information Sheet
XYZ Convalescent Center, 742 Plain Ave, Indianapolis, IN
Cathy Zugel, Activity Director  Call me at: xxx-xxx-xxxx
I will be happy to answer any question you have and look forward to hearing from you.

Weekly activity schedule








2:00  (activity name)

10:00 (activity name)



























We also have a need for volunteers who have an interest in music, Bible study, leading a hand exercise group,….
(List donations needed, special event coming for which volunteers are needed.)

Feel free to circulate this information to others who may be interested

 After your presentation

1. Maintain a professional presence. Yes, you can relax a bit after you leave the podium or your Talk is over. But no, you can not totally “kick back.” Remember: The audience will still be looking at you.
2.  Resist the tendency to start chatting and over talking. Pay attention to other people speaking—or at least be quiet and look like you’re paying attention.

Forward to Section 25
Back to Section 23
Table of Contents