I’m often asked to donate my time – a group needs a speaker or wants to offer a training program, but they are a not-for-profit or professional association and hope to secure my time. Depending on the opportunity, topic, and
audience, these can mutually beneficial.
But unlike my usual clients, there can be many points of contact and lots of different ideas about the best topic or title. Occasionally, I get the sense that they are doing ME a favor, rather than the other way around.
- The Sr. VP who told me I was lucky to have the chance to speak to a group I had never heard of! When I asked several people I respected if they knew about this elite group, I couldn’t find one who had.
- The Director who assured me that while she knew how smart and talented I was, and knew I would never do this, none the less, felt compelled to tell me not to present below the audience’s sophistication level.
- The Manager who wanted me to conduct a program that involved a variety of management theories and issues, include experiential exercises, and not exceed two hours.
- The Program Chair who wanted me to cover not one of the three options I provided, but all three of them, in one program.
The cornerstone of many of the topics I’m asked to present is good communication skills. Whether it’s the ability to get your message across clearly, be aware of the hurdles that are in your way, heighten the awareness of how you are perceived, or create bridges between people rather than erecting barriers, it the information applies to everyone.
It’s probably impolitic for me to suggest that the folks who might benefit greatly are the ones who are arranging the program for others. But I wonder if they’ll at least be in the room!