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VolunteerToday.com~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


The Training Page of Volunteer Today has practical trainer techniques and activities to make orientation sessions more productive and valuable. There are also ideas to help enhance the professional volunteer manager's training level.

Training Image

~ June 2004 ~ Topics

Presentation Jitters

In the surveys of what people fear the most, snakes tops the list. But right behind it is speaking in public. How can you calm those Nervous Imagepresentation jitters? Here are some tips.

  1. Know your "stuff." Be prepared. Never wing it, it only makes those jitters worse. Practice the presentation out loud. Time it. Do it for a small audience so you can "feel" the words and be well prepared. Make a clear outline on paper with large type so you can easily find you way. Outline your presentation rather than writing out every word. It is too easy to get lost. The outline brings you back to a point and the delivery will be more natural.
  2. Dress the part. Wear comfortable and lose clothing. Not too tight, not too lose and old shoes. You should not be worrying about clothing or sore feet when you are speaking. Look professional in an outfit that gives you a sense of confidence.
  3. Focus before you begin. Walk to the podium or speaker stand and take a breath. Look out at the audience and focus on a few faces, make eye contact. Count to five and then begin. Focus before you start. Running to the microphone and ripping into the presentation is only likely to make you more nervous.
  4. Move around, use your hands and arms. If the microphone system allows it walk around, but be careful NOT to pace it distracts the listeners. Moving gives more expression to your voice and energizes your body, all positive things for eliminating those jitters.

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Evaluations Made Fun

Training evaluations can be dreary and dull. And the responses are usually the same. In a PDF file (click here to view) we offer an evaluation that uses faces to elicit a response.

It looks like this sample.

1. Length of Course


Eval Face 1 Image


Eval Face 2 Image


Eval Face 3 Image


Eval Face 4 Image












It is a clever way to get a quick read on the response to a training session. The numbers that correspond to the faces could be entered into a data base like Excel and added to get more "statistical figures" for doing an indepth analysis.

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Getting Answers to Questions

Interactive activities make for the best learning for adults. So why are they so quiet when you ask questions? Maybe it is the type of question or the trainers behavior that prevents a response. Here are some tips on getting more responses from questions.

    • Ask the question. Wait 15 seconds. Restate the question. Wait 15 more seconds. Someone will respond.
    • Provide questions everyone can answer. "Why might a volunteer be reluctant to assume more responsibility?"
    • For complex questions, allow time for a written response. Provide 3 x 5 cards with lines. Write question on easel paper or overhead. Ask everyone to write an answer. Collect cards and redistribute. Ask people to share the response they have, which is not their own.
    • Ask questions that require estimates or guesses. "Which part of this task will consume the most of your time while you are here?"
    • Provide handout which has questions printed on it. Leave a space for answers. Tell the group to use, as you will be asking them for responses during the session on those questions.

Interested in more information on training? Check out our online bookstore for Building Better Relationships with Volunteers, authored by Nan Hawthorne and The Great Trainer's Guide by Sue Vineyard.

Building Better Relationships book Image The Great Trainer's Guide Book Image


Close to 200 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at http://pirate.shu.edu/~mirabero/kellogg.html. Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.

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