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Recruiting excellent presenters

Good presenters know how to maximize the learning experience

It is tempting to believe that a successful, well-regarded professional will naturally have a lot to offer as a teacher and mentor. This is unfortunately a fallacy. Practicing (using what's inside my head to solve problems) requires a different set of skills and competencies than teaching (transmitting what's inside my head to someone else's). Not everyone can do it well; and like any skill, proficiency requires practice.

Since no plan is any better than its execution, a poorly prepared speaker can ruin all of your planning efforts. It is therefore worth the extra care required to recruit competent presenters. The basic steps are:

  • Identify any pre-determined teaching parameters for the program; i.e., the scope of the content; practice level of the audience; complexity of learning objectives; and the format (hands-on workshop? lecture? audioconference? roundtable?).
  • Compile a list of qualifications for presenting these content, objectives, and format. * Gather information from potential presenters (by invitation and/or a Call for Presentations), including proposed teaching outlines for the planned session.
  • Make a final selection based on qualifications and the "fit" to your needs assessment.
  • Inform presenters of the program evaluation process prior to the session; share discuss evaluation results afterward.
  • Download Guidelines for Selection of Faculty

Finding good presenters

AFP Conference Speakers: Presenters from AFP's International Conferences have already been through a selection process similar to that outlined above. Evaluation ratings and contact information for presenters from past conferences is available on request from the AFP Fundraising Resource Center, (800) 688-FIND.

Master's Track Workshops: Recently added to the program at International Conference but popular in a number of chapters for many years, these half-day sessions are targeted to advanced practitioners with at least 7 (sometimes 10+) years of experience. Many of the workshops have become popular for chapter presentations, and some have been approved for ACFRE educational credit. Read about Master's Tracks

Faculty Training Academy Graduates: These highly-experienced teachers have received special training in adult learning principles and teaching techniques through the AFP Faculty Training Academy. The Academy is a 2-1/2 day workshop focusing on the theory and practice of teaching professionals, using the AFP First Course as a teaching vehicle. Academy graduates are prepared to teach First and Survey Course modules and other courses in their areas of expertise, and to serve as mentors to other presenters.

Local universities are another good source of prospective speakers, for topics in fundraising, nonprofit management and leadership, as well as related topics in areas such as financial planning, tax and legal issues, and technology.

Nurturing Home-Grown Talent

The Catch-22 is, of course, how does one become an "experienced presenter" without being given the opportunity to present? Surely there are some potentially wonderful teachers in your chapter, who need only a chance to show what they can do!

To solve this dilemma, create opportunities for interested members to gain the needed experience. The chapter can design into its programming facilitated discussions, roundtables, informal presentations at monthly meetings, etc. Stay on the lookout for individuals who have a knack for stimulating discussion, articulating concepts, and inspiring others.

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