So Much to Say, So Little Time

So Much to Say, So Little Time
6 years, 8 months ago 5
Posted in: Blog

I’ve endured my share of hours-long presentations featuring 60-slide powerpoint decks and tedious monotone speakers. In my world, that’s when I get my calendar organized, appointments made and tweets sent about the mysterious chicken on my plate.

Mercifully, a trend has emerged that understands our time-starved lives and attention-deficit culture. You may have seen or heard of TedX, a “global movement devoted to bringing Ideas Worth Spreading.” There have been several of the independently-organized events Cincinnati, as well as the similar “Ignite” sessions. It’s starting to catch on in the nonprofit world.

Often called fast pitches, these are three-minute opportunities to get your message across to a panel of judges for monetary prizes  — and an audience of potential supporters and funders even if your organization does not emerge a winner or finalist. I’ve enjoyed seeing several fast-pitch type presentations in Cincinnati and across the nation in travels with Social Venture Partners International and other involvements.

Fast pitches are just one tool in your communication plan. But they can work for you. If you work on them.

Just as Joey Votto does not just step up the plate and start swinging, practice, practice, practice is essential. Weeks of preparation may be needed for those three minutes on stage. Sponsors often provide coaches and trainers in advance and there are resources available if not.

One of the best fast-pitch hitting coaches I’ve run across is Lori Jacobwith, a Minneapolis-based fundraising coach who has provided training and coaching for thousands of organizations and their boards nationwide. Her strategies and tools have helped organizations to collectively raise nearly $200 million.

Her mantra is simple: “No stories without numbers, no numbers without stories.”

She preaches simplicity, including an exercise in which messages are molded in just six words (example above).  I can describe Lori in five: She gets to the point.

You don’t have to hire her to benefit from her wisdom. Her web site includes a free resources page with links to video clips, recommended reading and downloadable materials.

Some of her guidance on storytelling:

  • Tell a story about an actual person using name/age/descriptors so your listener can visualize.
  •  Use words that emotionally connect the listener to your work and the person you are speaking about. No jargon.
  • Share specific examples of your work and how it makes a difference in the life of a real person. (and I would add, have measurements/metrics that show outcomes, replicated in many similar stories program wide).
  • The story must be short – 2 minutes or less (although the Fast Pitches I have attended worked well with 3).

To the cynical, it may seem templated and formulaic.  But done well, a fast pitch can bring tears to the audience. And support and dollars to your cause.

NEXT: A training workshop suggestion:  “Fast Pitch Among Yourselves.”Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinby feather

5 Responses

  1. […] a previous post, Charitable Words explored fast pitches, three-minute opportunities to get your message across to a […]

  2. […] forward, they showed up, skipped the visuals and told their story concisely and convincingly.  It was obvious that offering no visuals did not mean they had not […]

  3. […] of the most impressive part of the presentations, in the context of Charitable Words’ previous posts: The students obviously were coached well in a strategy to put real people’s faces on the issue. […]

  4. […] previous posts, Charitable Words discussed the importance of having a strong story to convey the importance of […]

  5. […] Indeed, data drives the measurement world. But this is not to say touching story should be forgotten (as master marketer Lori Jacobwith says, “No stories without numbers, no numbers without stories.” […]