By Carolyn Campbell MA, CPPC

Before I share the 5 simple steps, here are the 3 most important words…
You. Them. We.

The first part is about…YOU. Why are you there? What do you want people to do, or be, differently as a result of your talk/event/connection? Make it real! Make it now! Inspire a change! Complete this sentence: “I am here to ______________________.”

I recently had the opportunity to work with a Food Share organization. My talk focused on giving the volunteers tools to provide experiences, provoke thought and ignite a new way of interacting—so that they can inspire their audiences to connect WITH hunger in a new way.

Now let’s address THEM.

Greet people as they arrive. Shake their hands. If you see someone who feels intimidating to you, definitely shake his or her hand. This seemingly small gesture creates a ‘we’ before you’ve even started speaking. If the group is large, take a few minutes to go around and meet people. Introduce yourself. Find out what inspired them to come.

By the time you do speak, you’ve created a WE room.

Now that you’ve created a ‘we’, you want to engage and strengthen the ‘we’ with a powerful talk. Although I don’t usually like ‘formulas’, you might use the following as a framework from which to build.


1. Begin by sharing your personal investment in the issue. I’m not asking for the polite, “I’m Gene and I’d like to talk about hunger.” NO! I’m asking you to GET REAL, real fast. Share a story that grabs them and gets them to take notice. If you don’t feel a bit exposed right here, you’re probably not doing your thing!

Then ENGAGE THEM. You might ask, “Who in this room has personally experienced hunger? Who knows someone who is struggling or has struggled with hunger? Who here feels guilty for having too much when others don’t have enough?” These powerful questions get your audience involved in the topic. After this interaction, restate why you are there to speak, using power words.

2. Share facts in a tangible form. I love facts and statistics. Most people really appreciate relevant statistics that engage them in a concrete way. If your organization distributes thousands of pounds of food a week, translate that into a ‘seeable’ form. How many truckloads is that? How many people will it feed?

3. Highlight WHAT YOU DO. People want to know, specifically, the scope of what you or your organization does. They want to know HOW you are making a difference. It’s important to provide clear, engaging, succinct information. This part must be as compelling as your story!

Engage them again. You don’t necessarily need to have a conversation. You might ask for a show of hands. Ask them, “How many of you were familiar with the scope of our work? Who here had any idea what farmers across America are doing to fight hunger?” Your job is to share and engage—engage and share.

4. Inspire hope. This is an important step. You might find that your statistics are disturbing or your clientele unsettling. No worries. I know an organization that works with one of the seemingly least desirable populations, teens on drugs. Guess what? Those teens are our future. When you convey trust in their potential, you inspire hope and help your audience believe. If you aren’t inspired, they can’t get on board with you. Tell a story of transformation. Help them realize their role in creating change. Inspire them because you believe.

5. Call them to action. Here’s the important part. DO NOT SELL THEM ON YOUR ORGANIZATION. Get them engaged in the cause. This is not to say that you don’t offer ways to be involved with you. But, more importantly, stand in your commitment to your cause…not JUST your organization. Ask people to commit to one action they can take to make a difference, no matter how big or small. Do tell them that you need their help…but more than anything, you want them to join you to make a change.

In the end, remember, if we try to ‘sell’ to people, they will often resent the approach. If we offer inspiration for change, they will remember us as a leader offering tools for transformation.

Keep asking yourself, “If I were in the audience, which would I want?”