Make Your Presentation More Effective

At this week’s Lunch and Learn, Deb Coppins, founder of NMP member organization Our Starting Point, presented Our Starting Point’s proposed plan of action and shared the compelling research behind her vision to improve our world one happy, confident child at a time by (1) increasing awareness of the critical need for effective parenting through a national awareness campaign on the scale of the Komen Foundation, (2) encouraging all parents to participate in parenting education programs, and (3) connecting them with parenting education resources in their community. The presentation was geared towards potential funders, board members, and those looking to be involved in Our Starting Point’s growth and development.

Deb then asked for feedback on her presentation. Collectively, we generated the following tips for presentations aimed at generating initial interest/gaining initial resources for your nonprofit:

  1. Your presentation’s goals should be clear, both to you and your audience. For example, Deb’s presentation aimed to promote recognition of how interactions with our children influence the adults they become and, by extension, our collective futures, while also ensuring parents hear this message, not as a critical one, but as a call to shift the norms in parenting approaches. Deb’s secondary goal for her presentation was to communicate that parenting education programs are needed for families of all socioeconomic status.
  2. Demonstrate that the problem your nonprofit works to solve is critical. Establish your credibility as a source for this information. Data is essential for demonstrating that the problem your nonprofit works to solve is critical, and establishes you and your nonprofit’s credibility. For example, Deb cited several studies that demonstrated why the need for parenting education programs in the U.S. is so great. However, telling the story behind the data is more effective in generating a positive response from your audience.
  3. Videos are a great way to convey information in a visually stimulating way, and can break up a monotonous flow of information. Before you show your video, however, establish why your video is important, so that your audience is intrigued enough to pay attention.
  4. The language you choose to use is important. Use colorful words, not technical words. The data you have may be staggering, but it won’t have the impact you’re looking for unless you use language that will reach your audience in a powerful way. It is also important to carefully select language that conveys the message you want. For example, Deb was wary of her presentation sounding critical to parents. For a softer approach, we suggested she use language that conveys “everyone’s been there,” and avoid language that seems to point to “bad parenting.” Deb used inclusive language, like phrases using “we” and “us,” to communicate Our Starting Point’s call for parenting education, so that her audience did not feel as if they were being criticized, but included in a universal call for parenting education programs.
  5. Do not be vague. For example, rather than speaking of “effective parenting” in a general sense, get to the next level of what the impact of your nonprofit’s work will be, and make the arc of your narrative clear – what will parents learn in these parenting education programs?
  6. Clearly communicate that the programs your nonprofit offers will solve the problem you have demonstrated. For example, Deb’s presentation should show how better parenting to help avoid the problems her data established, show how more effective parenting will improve the end result, and demonstrate that a way to solve the problem exists, and that this is what Our Starting Point will provide.