I attended NCTech4Good in North Carolina in June where I gave a presentation on storytelling (although more important than that is the super awesome people I connected with: some old and some new friends).
But what are some tips I can pass along to you about reaching your audience? Here are a few (of many) that stuck with me:
If you’re running an event or conference, you set the tone immediately, whether it's intentional or not. So, it's probably a good idea to make it intentional. The conference started with five-minute ignite talks. Each presenter’s slides moved along whether they were ready or not! It was awesome to see the different styles of the presenters. I didn’t realize it at first, but these ignite talks set the tone for a relaxed conference where topics such as introversion and extroversion, finding your spark, and cheese castles and initiative were normal topics.
When you attend a new conference (this was actually my second time at NCTech4Good) you don't know what the tone will be. Most people wait to see how it's set and adapt accordingly. This conference set the tone for making great connections and reaching out to people in an informal way. (Just in case this isn't clear, this is a very good thing, and this is exactly what people want when they attend a conference).
In order to work well with different people, try understanding their personality and needs. Dawn Crawford, an extrovert who runs BC/DC Ideas, talked about working with an office of introverts. As an extrovert, she definitely nailed some introvert qualities: yes, sometimes canceling plans is like heroin, and yes, activism for us can sometimes be uniting separately in our own homes, and yes, we do only say a fraction of what we think. That her entire talk was about how she cared enough about the personality of her staff to research how to meet their needs is awesome.
Always consider the goals of people you’re trying to reach. This was a message that came up numerous times in a workshop, facilitated by Katie Todd from the NC League of Conservation Voters.
Are you managing staff, interns, or volunteers? Are you asking people to come to your event? Are you soliciting donations, or asking people to buy your service, or product? Focus on your shared goals. Helping them meet their goals will go a long way to helping you meet yours.
If you've tried to reach out to someone and it's not working, change your message. Everyone sees the world through their own lens. They may start to see through your lens, if you tweak how you communicate it.
Take initiative before someone tells you what to do. If you don’t, you’ll be squeezing sauerkraut, said Molly Rivera from the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, talking about her time at Mars Cheese Castle in Wisconsin. If you don’t know what to do, come up with something. Try new things, and try new things and fail. And I’m not sure if Molly said this, but somewhere in there, something awesome will happen.