Communicating With Confidence

Communicating with confidence is an essential skill for success in both personal and professional life.

When you communicate with confidence, you are more likely to be taken seriously, be persuasive, and build strong relationships.

Here are some tips for communicating with confidence:

  • Be prepared. Before you communicate, take the time to gather your thoughts and make sure you know what you want to say. This will help you to feel more confident and in control.
  • Speak clearly and concisely. When you speak, make sure your words are clear and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that your audience may not understand.
  • Make eye contact. Eye contact is a powerful way to show confidence. When you make eye contact with the person you are speaking to, you are showing them that you are engaged and interested in what they have to say.
  • Use body language to your advantage. Your body language can also communicate confidence. Stand up straight, keep your shoulders back, and make eye contact. Avoid fidgeting or looking away.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic. When you communicate with confidence, you should also be positive and enthusiastic. This will help to create a positive impression on your audience.
  • Practice makes perfect. The more you practice communicating with confidence, the easier it will become. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there and start practicing!

Here are some additional tips for communicating with confidence:

  • Believe in yourself. The first step to communicating with confidence is believing in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. So start by taking some time to think about your strengths and accomplishments. What are you good at? What have you achieved? Once you start to believe in yourself, it will be easier to communicate with confidence.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move on. So don't let the fear of making a mistake hold you back from communicating with confidence.
  • Fake it until you make it. If you're not feeling confident, sometimes the best thing to do is to fake it until you make it. This means acting confident, even if you don't feel it. Over time, the more you act confident, the more confident you will become.

Communicating with confidence is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. But by following these tips, you can start to communicate with more confidence and see the benefits in your personal and professional life.

How to Engage Your Volunteers

We're all looking for ways to engage our volunteers as we manage our organizations.

It's important to understand that your volunteers are volunteering their time (free by the way) with you and it's your responsibility to make that a great and productive experience for them and for your organization.

While I've written about volunteer management before, the following is a great list of tips that you can incorporate into your program of work.

Here are some tips you might want to think about on how to engage your volunteer leaders:

  • Understand volunteer motivation. Why do people volunteer? What are they looking for in a volunteer experience? Once you understand what motivates your volunteers, you can tailor your engagement strategies to meet their needs.
  • Use your volunteer engagement strategy to tell a story. What is the impact of your organization's work? How do volunteers make a difference? Share these stories with your volunteers to help them connect with your mission and feel like they are making a real impact.
  • Provide orientation, training, and feedback. Make sure your volunteers have the information and skills they need to be successful. Provide them with clear expectations, training, and opportunities to give feedback.
  • Be flexible. Not all volunteers are the same. Some may be able to commit to a regular schedule, while others may only be able to volunteer occasionally. Be flexible with your volunteer opportunities to accommodate everyone's needs.
  • Encourage a sense of community. Volunteers are more likely to stay engaged if they feel like they are part of a community. Create opportunities for volunteers to connect with each other, share their stories, and learn from each other.
  • Stay in touch. Don't just reach out to your volunteers when you need their help. Stay in touch with them throughout the year to let them know how their work is making a difference.
  • Show appreciation. Volunteers give their time and energy to your organization. Make sure you show them how much you appreciate their hard work. Send thank-you notes, host volunteer appreciation events, or simply take the time to say "thank you" in person.

By following these tips, you can engage your nonprofit volunteers and create a positive and rewarding volunteer experience.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Match volunteers with tasks that match their interests and skills. This will help them feel more engaged and productive.
  • Give volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills and grow. This will help them feel more challenged and fulfilled.
  • Provide volunteers with opportunities to give feedback. This will help you improve your volunteer program and make it more enjoyable for everyone.
  • Celebrate volunteer successes. This will help show volunteers that their hard work is appreciated and that they are making a difference.

Lots to think about.  Good Luck!

Enhance the Board Member Cycle

I attended a recent webinar by two IOM faculty members, Cathi Hight, Hight Performance Group and Michael Gellman, Sustainability Education 4 Nonprofits, on the title of this blog.

They focused on three cycles; enhancing the first year of board service, finding pathways for continuing board service and past presidents & chairmen can be a powerful resource (or missed opportunity).
The following are my notes on a great discussion around a board members term of service or life cycle.
Enhancing The First Year of Board Service

  • Staff needs to take the lead and set the expectations for board service.  Do you have a job description for new board members?
  • Help board members find and align their passion and capacity to serve the needs of the organization.
  • The first year sets the stage for the board members remaining time of their service.
  • Ways to get your new board members engaged: share important documents with them, introduce them to key senior staff and connect them with a former board member.  Give them the tools to be effective.
  • And finally, review their first year’s participation and set goals for them going forward.
Finding Pathways for Continuing Board Service

  • Four ways to refocus their engagement – lead as an experienced board member, choose to serve as an officer, serve an additional term or ending their service on a high note.
  • Lead – raise the bar on efforts, take an expanded leadership role, and thoughtful engagement.
  • Serve as an officer – or serve as a committee chair.  This is a great way for you to see growth in a board member and where they might end up down the road.  It’s important to determine if that board member has the capacity to serve and whether it’s a good fit or not. They had a slide that had the four attributes that Mike feels is needed to be an officer; Capacity, Fortitude, Skills and Passion.
  • Serve an additional term – as a general rule, our board members serve two-year terms, renewable for up to three times.  If it’s not a good fit, maybe it’s time to say thank you for your service to that board member that just hasn’t engaged with the program of work of the chamber.
  • Ending on a high note – be thoughtful and purposeful when working with your board members who are ending their volunteering.  This will ensure a positive experience which in turn will help you with continuity moving forward and still have the support of that retiring board member.
Past Presidents & Chairmen Can Be a Powerful Resource (or missed opportunity)

  • They have the knowledge of your organization from their experience and it’s important to keep them involved in some capacity without them overpowering the work of the current board.
  • I’ve written about this in the past, do you have a quarterly meeting with your past chairmen? They no longer have a dog in the fight and can give good counsel on programs that you might want to sunset – (think sacred cows).
  • Ambassador role – fundraising, awards committee, ribbon cuttings, etc.  What a great way to have a past chairman serve in these roles and it shows the community the importance you’ve put on this program of work.  That’s a win/win for both them and you!

For more information on Cathi Hight go HERE or for Mike Gellman go HERE.

The Power of Tiers – Maximizing Growth and Member Engagement

The following post is based on a recent webinar moderated by Cathi Hight, Hight Performance Group, on tiered dues models. 

Are you thinking about moving to tiers?


Many chambers have made the switch from FTE’s to tiered dues to determine what members pay each year.  Moving to tiers sets a clear choice for your members, not a case of back and forth under an old FTE model.


It was stated that about 60% of chambers are on the tiered dues model.  Tiers allows you set different benefits at each level.  Think ribbon cuttings being attached to a higher tier than you entry level tier.  It also allows your members to pay one dues point for the year instead of you going back for advertising or sponsorship money, etc.


A common theme from all 5 executives is that there was a set of core benefits that every member got at the entry level dues point/tier.  Then within each tier they had a list of additional benefits they would receive, in addition to the core benefit.


They mentioned it is important to communicate with your members of the new tiered dues model in advance and that it can take up to 18 months or two years to make the full transition.  All had very positive outcomes in making the move to a tiered dues system.


It was also mentioned to involve your members in a task force, prior to transitioning to a tiered dues system, to decide what should be in each level at your chamber.  And have a board member as a champion in supporting this transition.


The following are my bulleted notes from the 5 executives telling their story/journey/model.


Missy Evans – Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce (AL)


  • No dues increase in 20 years
  • They needed to answer the question “So what do I get with my membership?”
  • Tiers allowed us to give our members the choice to join at the level that is right for them.
  • They created three tiers focused on prosperity, everyone got the core benefits – and then could choose between three tiers; Business Growth (different add on bundles) and Community Growth (different add on bundles), Trackman Investor (full access).
  • Moving to tiers allowed us to partner with members in their desired outcomes.


Dawn Mushill – Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce (IL)


  • We used to offer 70 membership benefits
  • Our members had different needs
  • We created a menu of services of the different benefits that the member could sign-up for, the entry level or minimum dues amount was $300.
  • They then created 7 additional tiered dues levels ranging from $600 - $15K


Rich Millard – Royal Gorge Chamber Alliance (CO)


  • We did a rebrand and went to tiered dues at the same time
  • We moved to tiers to give our members increased value and allowing them to choose which tier works best for them
  • They created 6 tiers under the tag line of investor benefits – designed by our members for members (they asked what their members wanted before they officially moved to tiers – as mentioned above)


Margie Donnell – Lancaster/Fairfield Chamber of Commerce (OH)


  • We moved to tiers because the old model was too confusing for members and staff to negotiate (i.e., we had company types, FTE’s, banks paid based on deposits, etc.)
  • They created a think tank to get feedback on what members wanted.  They used that data to create their tiers
  • They created 6 tiers with a check list of what members would receive at each tier
  • The tiers made it very easy for them to sell memberships


Barbara Riviera-Holmes – Albany Area Chamber of Commerce


  • They went from a membership model based on business sectors to tiers
  • This allowed their businesses to choose what tier worked best for them on where they are in their company growth
  • Again, this chamber created the tiers designed by members for members tagline
  • Tiered dues allows members to customize their partnership with the chamber – they have the power to choose what works best for them
  • They have 6 tiers with different benefits for each level


From my perspective, you need to decide what model works best for you and the number of tiers you want to create.  What is very important is that you have a major hook at each tier so you/they can justify going to the next level.


Another interesting fact when moving to tiers, a number of your members will want to be at the top tier.  Use that to your advantage.  Are you recognizing your members at that top level of membership?  People like to be recognized and this is a passive way to market that top tier to members.


For more information on Cathi Hight, Hight Performance Group, on her work with tiered dues models go HERE.

Governance and You

I listened to a great podcast the other day sponsored by Institute for Organization Management on governance.

The following is the Q&A discussion I wanted to share.  Thanks to Kate Conroy for asking the questions and Claire Louder, Louder NonProfit Strategies, LLC for her responses on this important issue.

What Are Your Red flags of Governance?
  • Board meeting without the executive.
  • Not reviewing the financials.
  • Board doesn’t show up for your board meetings.
  • Lack of term limits.
  • Board interfering with staff – the board should hire the CEO and the CEO should hire and manage the rest of the team.
They went on to have a brief discussion on the fiduciary responsibility of boards, the Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty and Duty of Obedience.  As a reminder, that responsibility can be described as:
  • Duty of Care - as a board member it is imperative that you do your homework on the board materials prior to the meeting so you can fully participate in the discussion and make informed decisions.
  • Duty of Loyalty - as a board member you must take your business hat off and put the hat of the organization on and do what’s best for the organization, not your business.
  • Duty of Obedience - as a board member you must stay true to the mission of the organization and not get involved in things that are not part of your articles of incorporation or bylaws.
What Are Your Green Flags of Governance?
  • Collaboration of board and the executive.
  • Leading vs managing.
  • Participation in an annual strategic plan and make sure you set aside the appropriate amount of time to be effective.
  • Board members showing up on time, engaged on the big issues going on in our community (workforce development, economic development, etc.).
  • Board understands their role (board commitment form).
Advice Someone Told You?
  • Life work balance is crucial.
  • You’ve got to manage expectations and take care of yourself.
  • Keep something in the tank for those who love you!
  • A great quote by Claire that stuck, “you can’t warm other people by setting yourself on fire.”
  • Set limits and stick to them.
  • Prioritize is also a key element in staying focused and a way to manage your time. (7 things book).
How Do You Prioritize?
  • List of things that need to get done on a weekly basis.
  • I also budget time to write blogs, etc.  You’ve got to get it all down on paper or on your digital calendar.
What Questions Should the Board be Asking?
  • How are the chambers financials and actually review those financial statements.
  • Ask about any red flags staff may see coming in the future.
  • Mike Gellman has a great dashboard that can be found HERE and used to inform your board on financial questions.
How Do You Disconnect to Stay Fresh?
  • Visit a local microbrew establishment with people I know and recognize me and they serve sparkling water too!
  • Happy hours in the neighborhood.
  • Zoom calls with folks to stay connected and talk about things outside of your current workload.
They finished with a list of great resources you should have bookmarked to help you answer any governance questions or issues that arise in your workday.

Your Members Are Mobile - Are You?

The following post is based on a webinar that Results Direct sponsored recently to the association community.  My takeaways are below.

Delivering the right mobile experience.


Gen Z is a mobile social & video first generation.  Go where they are to engage.  Their top three platforms, stated by Insider Intelligence, include Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram.  The other platforms include Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Reddit.


Why mobile?  5 hours a day people are on their mobile devices.  You need to access your members through that device.


Your competition is Siri, RSS feeds, etc.  Think about that!


What types of mobile apps are there:


Native app – uses the device to convert information and are very interactive.


Web app – responsive websites converted to a mobile app.  Scale to fit.  Design doesn’t change.


Hybrid app – combination of both the native and web app.


Action Plan:  Focusing Your Goals


  • Connecting members more closely with your organization
  • Providing personal and relevant experiences
  • Providing timely information
  • Connecting members with one another
  • Optimizing event experiences
  • Providing actionable tools
  • Enabling direct communication with your members
  • Generating revenue/reducing costs


What does success look like?


  • Attracting new members
  • Engaging members more regularly
  • Retaining more members
  • Providing new value
  • Saving costs on printed materials
  • Operating more sustainably/green
  • Selling more products
  • Attracting new sponsors/exhibitors


Leverage your existing systems.  Don't go out an create a new wheel. For a resource on going mobile go HERE.

Generative AI for Associations – How to use ChatGPT

Sidecar recently sponsored a webinar based on the title of this post.

The following comments are my notes. This is going to get interesting when the mainstream starts playing with ChatGPT on a regular basis.

What is AI – things that computers didn’t do, traditionally it requires humans to do.  Machine learning.
Generative AI – creates content, conversations, think from auto pilot to co-pilot.  It can be a partner for you.
9 ways to use ChatGPT
Translate – expanding your reach.  Language translation made easy and very accessible.  It’s a way to share your content in multiple languages.  This may not relate to all but it will be for many.
Summarize – just ask!  Describe what you want (topics, length, etc.) and AI will give you text based on your request.  This is a great way for you to create copy for events or publications.  Obviously, you’ll want to tweak as needed (customize).  Try it, you will be fascinated by what you get.  Some will say you’ll get 85% of what you wanted from ChatGPT.
Transform – accessibility.  Create text from audio, a transcript of a webinar.  Or audio from text.
Understand – using ChatGPT to break down large blocks of content (a conversation) to a meaningful short and concise document.  It’s a summary!
Interact – making your content conversational for your audience.  Think a blog you create and your members can interact with that content.  A chat bot can be put on your website where they can interact with you and get information in real time.
Market – think about email automation and creating individual marketing pieces for your audience based on their profile with your organization.  Your newsletter could be specific to what your members want based on how they have interacted with you in the past.
Brainstorm – use this technology to create ideas on new things your members might want.  You could ask for some ideas based on a recent survey you have conducted.  This goes back to the ask.  Describe what you want and
Create – let ChatGPT create drafts for messages you want to send to your members.  Think about membership messages for your next campaign.
Refine – use ChatGPT to create some flair for your content (images).  These images can be helpful in telling your story moving forward.
Yes, this is a mind-blowing new technology that we need to stay on top of it.  Even if you don’t use it right away, be mindful of what is going on in this sector.
Think about how you can use this new technology to add value for your members.  Embrace it!  It’s been said that your members are going to demand it from you.
For more information on ChatGPT from Sidecar go HERE.