An important part of a volunteer leader’s job is to serve as a spokesperson for the association. Whether you crave the spotlight or dread public speaking, it’s important to have a strategy and talking points so that you can best represent your organization.
This isn’t just about giving speeches and interviews. Volunteer leaders have a variety of opportunities to communicate about the work of their organization. Think about how you engage with your members. You may write a regular column for the newsletter or website. You might use social media, videoconferencing, or online communities. As we return to in-person events, you’ll likely have some time at the podium and many face-to-face interactions with members and attendees.
To reach broader audiences, many leaders promote their association by engaging with related organizations. A volunteer spokesperson is available for media interviews, often with industry-specific publications. If your organization’s message has a broader appeal, there may be opportunities with major media.
As you make the rounds, here are some tips to be an effective association spokesperson
1. Keep Your Messaging Consistent
You are going to talk to a lot of people and a lot of different audiences. Make sure you have some key talking points and you continue to tell the same, strong story about your organization. Practice your “elevator pitch” so that you can quickly and clearly introduce yourself and your organization.
2. Tie Everything to Your Association's Mission and Goals
Know your association’s mission and goals by heart. You need to be able to tie any program, service, or position directly to your association’s mission. This focus helps enable you to articulate the “why” behind everything your association does.
3. Represent Your Association, Not Your Personal Opinion
Even if the association’s position does not fully align with your or that of your employer, you still serve as the voice of your association. Volunteer leaders usually have the privilege of advancing positions and messages that they influence. But in cases where concessions and compromises were made during Board meetings or behind the scenes, you need to support the associationfully as a spokesperson.
4. Keep a Positive, Diplomatic Tone
As an association leader, there may be times that you will have to deliver news or take a position that not everyone supports. Decide ahead of time how much explanation and background needs to be presented. Maintain a positive tone, express empathy for differing opinions, and stay consistent with your messaging.
5. Repetition is Good
Yes, this goes back to the first point. You may feel like you are saying the same things , and that’s okay. As you engage with new audiences, they need to hear the same story. The quote you give to an industry publication needs to be consistent with the blog you write for your members. What may feel like repetition to you will be the consistent amplification of an important set of key points that present your association in the best possible light.
6. Rely Heavily on Your Professional Staff
Your association has professional staff members who can help you craft and deliver your messages. Think about your comfort level and what type of support you need.
Your commitment to your association is the reason you are in a leadership position. As you serve as spokesperson, let your knowledge and passion for the association shine through. Be prepared, stay consistent, and enjoy the spotlight
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