Opps! I did it again. I forgot about the brownie!

You’re about to address your local Kiwanis Club, a room of about 80 business leaders.  You step up to the podium, introduce yourself, and then you ask them to close their eyes and think of a person who made an impact on their lives.  Then you ask them to imagine their life without that person.  You hooked them!  You got them to realize that we all need mentors to reach our potential, to reach our goals, to be successful.

Then you launch into your program’s mission, how many youth need a mentors, how they can help.  Did the fish get away? What just happened here?  If you’ve done this or something similar, you are not alone.

brownies+almaobesaThis past year, the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota received a year-long pro bono contract from Weber Shandwick, a global PR firm.  During a messaging session with one of their experts, a VP who works with executive-level clients from large companies, she held up a brownie box and shows the back of the box.  “That’s where companies display the directions to make your brownies, and that where most of us start.  It’s necessary, but not the first thing they want you to see or experience.”   Then she turned the box around and said, “See this ooey, gooey, brownie? That is what you are selling!  You need them to want the brownie.  That’s why the brownie is on the front of the box and it’s what you see when you walk down the grocery isle.”

Right, totally makes sense.  We get so engrained in telling our story (about our organization and the need and the…) that we don’t often talk about the youth or a match right off the bat.  We may get there, but we don’t often lead with the brownie.

I’ve been to a lot of messaging and communications workshops over the years, and there’s one person who has really helped me understand this “brownie” pitch.  Glynis Shea is a communicator who has vast experience in not only global advertising, but also in the youth development field.  Her style of facilitation is fun and real.  She knows what she is talking about and it shows.  In one of her recent workshops, she talked a lot about words that trigger pathways in people’s’ brains.  Like the work “youth” or “teenager.”  Words we may use often.  Her insights were fascinating from a brain science perspective.  And what I learned was how to position my elevator speech, how to better “message” about my organization, and most importantly, how to connect with my various stakeholder groups.

Glynis is presenting  No More Wait List: Communication Strategies to Accelerate Mentor Recruitment at our 15th Annual Minnesota Mentoring Conference: Going the Distance.  She will be offering this workshop at each of the three locations we will visit this year. If you have any recruitment responsibilities for your organization or you need to sharpen your communication style, you won’t want to miss Glynis. So learn more about the conference series and register today to see Glynis in St. Peter on April 22nd.

After all, you have bigger fish to fry (your growing waiting list) than to worry about the ones that got away.

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About Mai-Anh Kapanke

Mai-Anh Kapanke is the executive director of the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota. Kapanke graduated from Michigan State University with a journalism degree. During the 2013-2014 program year, she was selected for a Humphrey Policy Fellowship at the University of Minnesota. In 2011, she completed the Institute for Executive Director Leadership program through the University of St. Thomas. Prior to her work in the mentoring arena, Kapanke was a television news reporter and weather anchor. She has served as a mentor with both Mentor Duluth and Kids 'n Kinship and currently coaches her daughter's soccer team.
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