Spokesperson training

This training course will prepare you for your role as spokesperson.  You need to present a professional appearance and communicate a consistent message.  This exercise is relevant for any external meeting, including a media interview, formal presentation and one-to-one conversations.

Tips:

  • ask a peer (ie not an employee) to give you honest feedback on your performance.  Find a marketing Generalist.
  • be succinct.  Answer every question in less than 15 seconds.  Use short sentences.  Talk in “sound bites”.
  • maintain eye contact.  Be aware of your body language and facial expressions.  Prepare your appearance (focus on what you are wearing from the arms up)
  • answer each question with confidenProducts31031-1200x1200-69562ce.  Then attempt to turn the conversation back to the benefits of your non profit.
  • repeat. Repeat the benefits of your non profit whenever possible.
  • practise.  Practise in front of a mirror.  Ask a family member to time your answers.  Ask a colleague to challenge you by posing new questions that you have not had time to prepare.
  • review your answers before every external meeting, over the next few months.

Suggested reading:  “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide” by Kivi Leroux Miller p111-123, available in libraries.

Sample Q+As

Q. What does your non profit do?
Q.  What makes your organization different from others?
Q   What impact did your organization have last year?
Q.  Explain why the cause you are supporting is important.
Q   How financially stable is your organization?
Q.  Are your services expensive?
Q.  I hear you have a lot of staff turnover.
Q.  What is the difference between a non profit and a charity?  (Answer:  Both a non profit and a charity reinvest any profit back into operations and do no distribute to shareholders (like a for-profit business).  About 1/2 of all non profits in Canada have received a designation from the CRA for charitable status which allows them to issue tax receipts to donors.  Our organization is a ….)

Prepare a Crisis plan

You need to be prepared in the event of employee fraud or disaster.

1. Designate a spokesperson
Select a primary and secondary spokesperson.  They need to be available 24/7 during the crisis and return all calls immediately.

2.  Prepare a written statement that

    • acknowledges the problem
    • explains how the situation effects your mission
    • what is being done to address it

3.  Give extra attention to social media comments.

4.  Create a communications plan to reassure your employees, volunteers, clients and major donors

5.  Identify a third party to coach the spokesperson during the crisis.  Find someone unconnected to the non-profit and who can give honest feedback and guidance to the spokesperson from the point of view of an outsider.  This person needs to be someone that the spokesperson will actually accept feedback from and is available on-call.

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