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Season 2, Episode 42

Campaign expert Andrea Kihlstedt is joined in this episode by special guest Jezra Kaye. Jezra is a speaking coach with almost 20 years of experience coaching individuals and groups, and she talks with Andrea about how fundraising is enhanced when you present yourself in the best possible ways.

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This episode was recorded as part of a live webinar held Monday, June 13, 2022. To participate in future webinars, register at ToolkitTalks.com.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
In today’s episode, you are going to get a couple of really great things. We’re going to start by talking about tips Jezra has about how to use Zoom better. That’s number one. And number two, Jezra is going to help you learn how to create a clear, simple, short, effective little case for support for your campaign and your organization. If you’re in the fundraising business you know you need to do that. Now, can Jezra accomplish all of that quickly? You betcha, just wait and see.

Okay Jezra, let’s get started with Zoom tips. Everybody thinks they know how to do Zoom after two years of being forced to Zoom. What would you suggest?

Tips for Using Zoom with Donors

Jezra Kaye:
Yes. Everybody’s favorite. Well, I want to start by showing you a picture and this is actually the setup that I’m using right now to speak with you. I’m in a client location so I brought my portable setup and the reason that I boost up my laptop in the way that you can see in this picture is to get the camera at eye level. So the big, big thing about Zoom is that if you can make eye contact with the people that you’re talking to, it brings you so much closer to simulating real life experience. And even though it can be kind of a pain for you as the speaker, it’s going to pay off really well, because people are going to be comfortable with you and they’re going to feel the same sort of relaxation with you that they would feel if you were actually in a room together.

Now, right now I am seriously looking directly at my camera as I speak to you. Well, actually right now, I’m looking down to stop the chair, because I think you’ve seen that I’m looking at my camera and I have a picture of Andrea lined up beneath my camera. Not a picture of her, it’s her. It’s actually the Zoom box that’s showing me her face. So when I need some human contact, I can just glance down a little bit and glance back up, just glance down a little bit and glance back up. This is important because what you don’t want to do is talk to a camera throughout your entire conversation. You want to be able to look at your prospect, but you want to be able to look at them in the vicinity of the camera. Where you don’t want to look is down here toward a corner of your screen, because that way you’re making eye contact with no one and it doesn’t feel natural and it doesn’t feel right. You’re cutting off the connection that’s so important. That’s so critically important for what you do.

So when you are speaking to a person, try and slide the Zoom screen so that person’s face is in the vicinity of your camera as close as you can get it, and that’s going to help make the interaction much more natural and make you feel a lot less isolated than you would feel if you were just talking to a camera. So, that’s one tip.

A second tip, and unfortunately I’m not embodying this perfectly at the moment because there is a fluorescent light above my head, but the second tip is that you want to be lit from the front. You don’t want to be lit from the back because that automatically puts you into shadow. And again, it makes you less accessible to the person or people that you’re talking to. It’s just more difficult to connect with you if you’re lid from the back and your face or your entire body are in shadow. Now, whatever device you’re using, try and angle it so that you’ve got your head, your shoulders and part of your upper chest. You’re seeing a pretty good snippet of me right now. If I move this forward, that’s not as good. If I move it too far back, see this angle where you’re seeing the ceiling? That’s not really ideal, that looking up towards somebody angle is not ideal because we try not to do that in real life. It’s a little too close to looking up somebody’s nose and you want to avoid that where possible.

So my three tips are, for Zoom, which I know you’re all experts at already, but if this is news to you go ahead and play with it after the webinar, see if you can find something that works even better. Get your camera at eye level and make sure that you’re talking to a person who’s near that camera, light yourself from the front where possible or a general ambient light like I have right now is also fine, but not from the back and then tilt your device so that you get the right angle that looks conversational and isn’t all about the ceiling or somebody’s looking at your stomach or all this stuff that we just don’t need for Zoom. Those are my top tips for making Zoom as relaxed as possible.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Thank you Jezra. Those are terrific. I think with some frequency, people just don’t pay attention to that. It’s very hard to actually look at the camera because you really want to see if it looks like you’re looking straight at the screen. It’s very hard to do that. And it’s very easy to have your window, your Zoom window, off to the side because you’re looking at some other things on your screen. So I think it’s time for us all to really pay closer attention to that. It does make a difference. And thank you so much for reminding us, Jezra —

Jezra Kaye:
Oh, you’re welcome. And if I could just add one thing, I think in addition to looking at the camera, look at yourself now and then, and just make sure that you like what you see. Now, I know a whole lot of us would say that we’re never going to like what we see, but put that aside, see if you look like the other people on the call. If you look like the other people on the call, then you probably look okay. Right?

A Key Mistake When Using Zoom

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Right. You know my favorite story about Zoom images, Jezra, and some people may have heard some of this that I have a committee I’ve been working with and one of the women on this committee is up in her 80s and she’s a very, very sharp woman. But she sort of can’t figure out where the camera is, particularly when she’s using her cell phone. So with some frequency, we’re looking at the inside of her ear.

Jezra Kaye:
Oh dear.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Which takes a little deciphering to realize what it is you’re actually looking at.

Jezra Kaye:
Not ideal when you’re delivering a really important message.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
No, I have to say this woman is just terrific and what she says is every bit worth having her on the call. Nobody wants to say to her excuse me dear, let me give you a lesson and do this. Anyway. It’s super important that we present ourselves as well as we can. And you are a wonderful model and example of doing that.

Creating a Small Case for Support (Elevator Pitch)

Jezra, let’s let’s get to this presenting what some people call an elevator speech or a small case for support. All of you on this call are in some aspect of the fundraising business or another. And I don’t care what role you are playing. Whether you are heading up a big capital campaign, whether you’re an executive director, whether you are the person who types in the data. If you are working for an organization in the fundraising office or capacity in any way, you need to be able to articulate clearly what the case for your organization is. Why someone might want to give to your organization. And that is, it’s harder than it seems really. Oh yeah, Jezra give us some tips. Give us an approach.

Jezra Kaye:
Well, better than that I’m going to give you what I personally consider the holy grail. I hope that’s not offensive to anybody it’s meant to jest. This is a format that does about a million things for you as a public speaker, as a communicator, and it’s ideal for helping you frame out and probably even deliver your case for support. So it’s a very, very simple five sentence format. And Andrea, if you would join me, I’m going to ask you to help me demonstrate it.

The first sentence is what you call a key message or what I call your key message. It’s the most important thing that you have to say. If you could get up and say one sentence and then you were absolutely done, there was no possibility of saying anything else, what would that one sentence be? When you can find that sentence you’re about 70% of the way home free, because that is what’s going to stick in the minds of your listeners and that is what is going to help you frame out everything that follows. So, the first thing you need is a key message and it’s obviously about your organization, but it’s also about the person that you’re talking to. What is their passion based on your relationship with them? If their passion is for children at play, then you’re going to focus on that. If their passion is for the history of your organization, you’re going to focus on that. It’s not one key message fits all, although you probably do want to have a general one for people that you don’t know and are just meeting.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Let’s just stop for a sec Jezra because that’s so powerful and such an important point. We tend to think about an elevator speech as one speech that we can do again and again and again to everybody. And what you’re saying to us, to all of us, and it’s so important to remember is that the elevator speech, the little talk you can give the little 60 second thing you will say to someone about your organization should relate to what you know about them, to who they are.

Jezra Kaye:
Exactly.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
And that’s a whole different story than memorizing speech and spouting it.

Jezra Kaye:
You don’t want to give a blurb. It’s not like that. You want to know what the person that you’re talking to is going to find most exciting. Now, if you don’t hit it with your key message, don’t worry because you have three more tries. The second, third and fourth sentence of an instant speech are what I call your supporting points. Your supporting points are three facts or pieces of information or short comments or questions or surprising observations about your key message, in other words about your organization. So the reason that this matters… There are many reasons why this matters, one is that we often don’t know how much to say. It’s hard to know where to start, where to stop and how long to go on for in between. This format takes care of all of those things. So I’m going to give you an example of it, but first I have to tell you that your fifth sentence is an exact repeat of your same key message this time it’s for reinforcement because now you’ve demonstrated it.

I’m, at this moment, wishing with all my heart that I had prepared some very clever fundraising instant speech, but I haven’t. So I’m going to tell you about my favorite flavor of ice cream. My favorite flavor of ice cream is peppermint stick, that’s the key message. It’s a stake in the ground. I have told you what I think. Now I’m going to tell you three things about it. It’s refreshing, I love the crunch and I wish you could find it in the summer. My favorite flavor of ice cream is peppermint stick and if I had some right now, I’d be eating it.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So, let me just recap here. Five sentences, actually four sentences, right? One sentence, two, three, sentence A.

Jezra Kaye:
Yes.

Jezra Kaye:
Yes, exactly. Four different sentences.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Four different sentences, five sentences that you speak, right? We can all do that. Ideally the first sentence and the last sentence should connect us to the person we’re talking to.

Jezra Kaye:
Right, exactly.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Right?

Jezra Kaye:
Exactly.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Okay.

Jezra Kaye:
If I were talking about my alma mater New England Conservatory, I might start by saying New England Conservatory is a choice for young entrepreneurial musicians of tomorrow, or is the choice. If that’s what I think you would be interested Andrea. And then I would tell you something about the student body and something about the way they’re educated for entrepreneurship and something about the standing of the Conservatory. And then I would repeat my key message that New England Conservatory is the choice for young entrepreneurial musicians.

But see, this is what’s really cool, I’m watching you to see how you react. What was of interest to you in my three supporting points? What pinged for you? Where did your eyes light up? That’s where our conversation is going next. And that’s why you don’t want to have a canned speech, because when you have a canned speech you can’t adapt to the feedback that you’re getting in real time from your conversational partners.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So Jezra let’s do this in real time. So here’s what you need to know about the New England Conservatory. My wonderful daughter, Carla, is on the faculty there of the contemporary improvisation department. Now give me that speech again.

Jezra Kaye:
Okay… here goes:

The New England Conservatory has the country’s oldest and best contemporary improvisation department. Starting with Gunther Schuller and moving right up to fabulous contemporary musicians like Carla Kihlstedt, it brings extraordinary teachers. It also draws talented students from all over the world and all different cultures. And of course there is no better performance opportunity than to be able to play in our fabled Jordan Hall. That’s why the New England Conservatory has the oldest and best contemporary improvisation department in the country, and your contribution can be directed to support that department.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
See that you got me, how am I not going to like that? If my know and my daughter teaches there, right?

Jezra Kaye:
I should tell people as an aside I had totally forgotten that Carla teaches at NEC. I’ve met Carla, I think she’s a magnificent musician and person, but I’d forgotten she was at NEC and also CI is the department that I graduated from. It had another name, but that’s what it was. So that was pretty easy to do because of that but it was also pretty easy to do because I have drilled instant speeches thousands of times. When you’re drilling, when you’re practicing, you want to make it more like my ice cream speech, because what you’re trying to do is internalize the format so that you just have it when you want it. That’s what allowed me to push through whatever feelings of anxiety or silliness or, oh my God, can I do this? That’s what allowed me to just go, go, go, go. Because when you drill instant speeches, that’s what you drill. That’s part of where the authoritativeness comes from, the rhythm.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Can I try one?

Jezra Kaye:
Of course. Let’s see.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. I’m just going to do one that’s easy for me. And I just going to drill the model So my… What do you call it? The key message.

Jezra Kaye:
Yes.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Key message is New York is the most remarkable city in the world, point one. There is more culture, there is more first rate culture on stages, big and small in this city than anywhere. Second is you can eat the best food, both expensive food and cheap food anywhere in the city, it’s utterly remarkable. And the third is just walking down the street you get such a cross section of people that it reminds you what kind of a world we really live in. New York is the most remarkable city in the world.

Make Your Pitch As Lean As Possible

Jezra Kaye:
Fabulous. Fabulous. And let me show you one thing you can do with that, that’s so perfect. You can take it down even leaner for the point of practicing. So if I remember your points correctly, which I may not, your instant speech was New York is the best city in the world. We have art, we have food, we have diverse people. New York is the best city in the world.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes. Super easy.

Jezra Kaye:
Take it down to the bare bones.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Bare bones, yeah.

Jezra Kaye:
Bare bones.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Some of you maybe you may want to jot down what would be the key message for your organization and the three points that you would make beneath it. Then you can try it, you can try it out on other people as you talk to them.

Jezra Kaye:
And trying it out on other people is going to help you refine it because that’s, what’s going to show you what clicks. And you’ll be surprised at how simple it is. At this point my key message for introducing myself is pretty much, I’m a public speaker coach. I teach people how to communicate for business.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So I’m a public speaker coach I teach people how to… But where are my three points? Where are your three points?

Jezra Kaye:
Oh, I’m still in the key message.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
You’re still in the —

Jezra Kaye:
I cheated. I had two sentences in my key message. Let’s pretend it was just one.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
It was one, okay. Right.

Jezra Kaye:
I guess you could say my real key message is I teach people how to communicate for business.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
And then you would’ve three points below that.

Jezra Kaye:
I help them write speeches, I help them work on their delivery and I help them work on speaking techniques that’ll make them more effective. I teach people how to communicate for business.

So it’s kind of an updated version of the elevator speech, it’s available to a broader range of people. And just having one thing to say allows the other person to tell you what they’re interested in. So for instance, if I knew that you were interested in NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Department, I could just start with that. I could say, Andrea, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I have a feeling that you’re going to agree when I say that NEC has the best contemporary improvisation department in the world, bar none. I don’t even have to go any further because now I get to hear what you want to say about that. And that might take us in a direction that my three supporting points don’t cover. So just because you have a speech doesn’t need mean that you need to make a speech.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
That’s interesting.

Jezra Kaye:
Have it in your back pocket, but watch the other person, if they want to speak, let them.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Jezra, I know you are a big believer in practicing.

Jezra Kaye:
I sure am.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Practicing public speaking, practicing these formats are great. How do you advise people to do that?

Jezra Kaye:
Every day. Just a few seconds here, a few seconds there, try and slip it into your daily life. Like pick something specific, so for instance, if you want to practice articulating. If you feel that you are difficult to understand, do what I just did and that’s your practice for the day, that’s it. Then do it again tomorrow, next day, next day, next day. At some point it’s going to start filtering into your real life speaking. Same thing with pausing, same thing with using more variety, putting more variety in your voice. Hi, I’m practicing using more variety in my voice. Now I’m speaking low, now I’m speaking high. Done. You’re done for the day. Small increments every day are so much more valuable, you can’t cram something that’s a physical discipline. You have to go little step by little step and build the muscle memory.

How to Avoid Speaking Too Quickly

Andrea Kihlstedt:
I think one of the things that most of us in the fundraising business tend to do is to speak really fast. We tend to be very anxious when we’re asking people for gifts. So we may know very well what it is we want to say, and somehow our tongues get ahead of our brains or something like that. Do you have some suggestions about how to help us slow down?

Jezra Kaye:
Yes. The way to slow down is to pause and the way to practice pausing is to pause a lot for about 20 seconds a day or go wild, take 30 seconds. And be sure to exaggerate because with public speaking practice, you want to exaggerate like crazy when you’re alone or practicing with a partner and then when you actually go out into the world, you forget all about it. You’re not going to sound like that out in the world. What’s going to happen is that the exaggeration is going to speed up the rate at which the thing you’re practicing infuses into your regular speech. So you always want to practice over the top. You want to always go over the top when you’re practicing public speaking and then just totally forget about practice when you get in front of people, just talk to them.

But pausing is a benefit for you as well as for your listener. You get a little more time to be more varied, to have more fun, to think about what’s happening next. And the person that you’re speaking to has more time to absorb what you’re telling them. If I start talking to you and I just keep going until I run out of air or run out of things to say, you’re going to hear everything I say, but it’s going to be very difficult for you to remember it. Because particularly if I had two or three topics within the same sentence, not taking a breath and no offense to millennials but this does often tend to be kind of a millennial thing. So you have to watch out for it because even though you’re understanding, what I’m saying it is not going to stick with you.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Yes and I find that was challenging.

Jezra Kaye:
Yeah. And it’s pausing. Pausing is what breaks that up. Practice for 15, 20, 30 seconds a day and then forget it. Forget it till the next day.

Putting it All Together: A Recap

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Jezra, before we wrap up this part of our session, what are some key points you want people to take from it?

Jezra Kaye:
When you’re on Zoom just act like you’re live. Follow the tips that I gave you. But once you’ve got the best setup that you can manage, just act as if you’re talking live. Zoom is only as big of a barrier as you let it be. If you just pretend that you’re actually talking to real people in a real room, it will not be a barrier to connecting with them. That’s one thing.

Another thing, as you said, Andrea, write down a key message for your organization. Write it down. And that I would practice a lot, run it by a whole lot of people. What do you do? Oh, I work for such, such and such an organization, which does so and so. And then to start to see what they ask next, or what do they not understand or what bores them or what excites them. Field test your key message about your organization. When you’re talking to a potential donor, stay focused on what they find of interest. And if you look at them and listen to them, they will let you know, you’ll be in no doubt about what part of the information you’re giving them is of interest to them. And that’s your guide as to where to go. That’s what I would say to take away.

Andrea Kihlstedt:
Thank you. So, so very much. Now Jezra, If people want to learn more about you and want to learn how they can learn from you, where would you like them to go?

Jezra Kaye:
Well, there are two places that you can go. One is to my website that Andrea already mentioned, is called speakupforsuccess.com and you can go there and there’s about 250 blog posts loaded with all kinds of info. There’s also a contact page and that’ll come right to my desk and I will respond to you, or my virtual assistant will. The other way to reach me is by emailing me and that is Jezra@JezraK.com and you can see my name written out in my Zoom box, so it’s Jezra@JezraK.com

Andrea Kihlstedt:
So I encourage you to get in touch with Jezra if you have a speech that you have to give, I mean, it’s remarkable to work with someone who actually knows what they’re doing. I’ve done that and it has been super helpful.

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