As Laura mentioned last week, we at Volunteer Maryland are all about story telling. Whether you’re advocating for your organization, educating folks about a cause or marketing yourself as an individual, stories are an incredibly effective way to gain supporters. As is often the case, many of my members are far more skilled than myself in this field, and I asked Sarah, our Volunteer Maryland VISTA member at the American Red Cross of the Delmarva Peninsula if I could share one of the great stories she has included in her monthly reports over the years. One thing our outreach manager tends to ask in interviews is about challenges in past work experiences and how they were (or were not) overcome. Here is Sarah’s tale of such a challenge:
“Last Tuesday I had my first Community Disaster Education presentation as an instructor. I had spent a month or two training to be an instructor, tailoring the information to our region and demographic, and putting together a contact sheet; but this night was the first night that I was to be the actual presenter.
I spent the entire day preparing for this presentation. I went over my mental checklist, making sure I had all the handouts I might need and double checking the location and the time I am to present to this group. I drove to our office in Wilmington to borrow a laptop, a projector and a thumb drive to triple-insure that I had all of the right materials. By the end of the day, I was pretty confident that this presentation would go off without a hitch. But then there was a hitch…or two.
I arrived at the fire hall in the pouring rain. I vaguely knew what room I would be presenting in, but I had no clue which door to enter. So out in the rain I walked around that huge building tugging on all the doors I was familiar with and none were open. Finally, I made my way inside, soaking wet (with some assistance, of course) and started to set up. I quickly pulled up my PowerPoint and turned on the projector, and then I got stuck. I had no idea what I had to do to get the PowerPoint to project! In fact, no one in that entire building knew what to do. Luckily, I did a bit of improvising and it worked out just fine. We used two computer screens to show the material and had the class gather around so everyone could see.
Despite the technological snafu, the presentation went really well. The class even offered me warm soup and a thank-you gift, which is beyond anything I could have imagined. Next time, I will be sure to know how to use that silly projector.”