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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.


~ April 2005 ~ Topics

Presentation Visual Tips

Visuals are essential to make an effective presentation. It can be slides, poster, overhead transparency, or power point slides. What ever you use, it needs to be more than the notes of your speech.



1. Every visual needs at least 10 seconds and no more than two minutes for viewing.
2. The visual needs to be in a type font and size that can be seen across the room where the presentation will be made.
3. If you are spending 10 minutes with one visual for viewing, break it up into small pieces.
4. Remove a visual once you have used it. Do not leave it up when you have moved on to something new.

Want more ideas for training? Check out our online bookstore for Slide Show on a Shoestring, by Nancy Macduff. Details for Slide Shows Book

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Musical Chairs Review

A review at the end of training session or the end of a day of training is one key to insuring the information will make it into long-term memory. Here is an energy building review that is fun, too.

1. Give trainees 3 sheets of colored paper and overhead marking pens.
2. Each person writes down 2 – 3 of the most powerful ideas they have learned from the training.
3. The papers are then taped randomly to the walls of the room. Not all one person's ideas are posted in one area.
4. Have music recorded and play it on a portable tape recorded or CD player.
5. Have students walk around the room in a clockwise manner.
6. Stop the music and have selected students read the idea posted on the wall near them.
7. Remove the ideas read from the wall.
8. Continue this until all ideas have been read and removed from the wall.

A variation of this would be to award a prize to the last "sheet" on the wall.

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Training Volunteer Writers

Volunteers are often called upon to write for the organizational newsletter, e-news briefs, end of project reports, or promotional material. Consider offering a "writing" workshop for volunteers likely to be writing for the organization. Here are some tips to share during the training.

  • Use your own words. Big words do not the master writer make! Inflating language with big $5.00 words makes the writer sound pompous and puffed up. Use your own language, as if you were talking to someone.
  • Read as much as possible. Good writers read to improve their "ear" for language.
  • Give it a rest. Write something and walk away from it for a day or two. You will be surprised that a sentence you thought brilliant really does not sound right on a second look. If the material reads well over time, chances are it is pretty good.
  • Read it aloud. After you let the writing rest for a spell, read it aloud. Obvious bad construction becomes instantly visible. And reading aloud doesn't mean mumbling. It means out loud so others can hear and understand what you are reading. (Do warn them in case they might misunderstand your intent.)
  • Look for some drama. Seek words and phrases that jump out at the reader. Use the content of the writing to guide you to dramatic ways to present your information.
  • Get some editors. Ask people to help. You might know someone who is an excellent "idea" person. Ask them to read for the strength and organization of your ideas. Skip the grammar. Then find someone who knows grammar and syntax. Ask them to read for that.


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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