When your organization hosts a fundraising event, there are many factors that your team needs to be aware of all throughout the night if you want the evening to be a success. Having your speakers be heard is one of those important factors.
Your speakers are essential to the success of your fundraising event. These are the people who are communicating the details of your organization’s cause, providing important directions for the upcoming events (like silent auction instructions) and making sure everyone is informed of how the event will unfold. These people have the right to be heard!
What are some common problems that occur?
Most commonly, the speaker is not given the courtesy of the audience. This isn’t necessarily on purpose. People are just excited to be at your event. They find themselves in their own little worlds, talking to old friends and acquaintances. They just need a little help to get them to focus their attention on the stage.
Help the audience by having one of your staff members acknowledge how happy you are to see all your friends and members of the community come out for such a worthy cause. Explain the importance of your organization and all of the valuable work that you do.
When introducing another speaker, emphasize the value of the speaker and just how important he or she is to your cause. It is tragic to see someone risk getting up in front of a group of people to tell their compelling story — only to be talked over of ignored. Set the stage for your speakers and don’t let that negative situation occur.
Handling the sound system
Always make sure the sound system is adequate. You don’t want it too low and you also don’t want it too loud.
Have one of your staff stand in the front of the room and then move towards the back to get an idea of the sound levels. If the microphone needs to be raised or lowered during a speech — politely go over and adjust it so that the microphone can do its job! This is not only important during the dinner, but also during the cocktail hour. Your guests need to be reminded why they are there, so making sure that there is a sound system in the cocktail area is also essential. Don't forget, your cocktail hour is the first deliberate opportunity for your organization to raise funds.
Polite ways to quiet an audience
There are a couple polite ways to quiet an audience that we at AmFund like to use. You can clink the side of glass. You can motion with your hands and say “Shhhhhhh.” Or you can start out with a little joke. “Did anybody lose this phone?” That will certainly get everyone’s attention!
You can also use lighting to your advantage. It is best to have the room well-lit prior to the performance; however, do not light the stage at all. Just before the program is to begin, you dip the lights two or three times. Secondly, leave the house lights dim and bring up the lights on the stage. Now you have the focus of the room on the stage.
Try music too. Select a popular song that most people in your audience are likely to know and play it loudly. The premise is that everyone who comes through the door will be singing and dancing to the song. This focuses everyone’s attention onto the same thing (rather than hundreds of individual conversations). Once the song stops, it will be fairly easy to shift the attention to the Master of Ceremonies.
Finally, plan an invocation at the beginning of your event. You will be amazed at how quickly people will quiet down when they realize that someone is about to say a prayer.
We at AmFund have plenty of experience in grabbing your audience’s attention. Yes, there are more techniques that we can use! When it comes to your next fundraising event, contact us at AmFund for more information on how our friendly, experienced Development Directors can help your organization with its next fundraising event.