Most people (not ‘nonprofit people’… just people in general) don’t know HOW to engage… how to create engagement… how to be deliberate in communication so that the other person is engaged. At the same time, most people will tell you they want more engaged customers, staff, funders, relationships and board members.
Let’s define ENGAGEMENT as a dynamic within a relationship in which the dynamic holds attention, heightens interest and motivates action.
Attention! Interest! Action!
How do we maximize Attention, Interest and Action?
How do we MAXIMIZE ENGAGEMENT?
- Ask questions. Listen. Or, just listen. No better way to engage than to listen. Also, when a person speaks it engages his or her brain fully.
Note: Hard to listen to a room full of 200 people. It’s hard to listen to 12 board members at a meeting – for that matter.
- Be 1:1. It’s tough to listen to a room of 200.
- Use Visuals! Half the world is right-brained.
- Better than Visuals, Create an experience. If a picture is worth a 1000 words than a tour or an experience with your impact is worth many more.
- DRAW! Create a visual experience with the prospect. We love using 2’x3′ ENGAGEMENT MAPS – these make the case for support visual and they offer plenty of white space in which to draw while you’re visiting with someone. Picture two people standing over a blue-print. Talking, moving… giving a case meaning. Engagement.
- Predispose. Predisposing someone to your visit or your conversation provides clarity ahead of the visit – making it easier to hold attention and it should create interest.
- Be Simple. We need order. We need simplicity. If things are complex, you’ve lost my attention because I’m attentive not to YOU or your MESSAGE but to figuring out what you’re saying.
- Be Specific with an Ask. If the stated goal is to create action then you need to let the other person know what the action looks like. Being specific in an ask directs attention and let’s me know what action to contemplate. In the funding sense, you must ASK in order for me do something.
If we focused on ENGAGING it would change some things….
- We would worry much less about ‘what to say’ and instead think about the questions to ask.
- We would probably burn powerpoints in effigy and people would stand around flip charts with markers.
- Scores of organizations would ditch events in favor of visits.