Communicating about Hunting, Angling and Conservation
5 Tips for Using the NHF Day PowerPoint Materials
1. Our PowerPoint presentation is designed to be a visual aid, something solid to build on, not the entire show. Along with our suggested script as a base to start from, these materials can help you develop and deliver an effective message about hunters, anglers and conservation. Any good presentation depends on personal touches from an informed, passionate speaker. That’s where you come in! Remember, you control the pace and information surrounding the PowerPoint; don’t let it control you.
2. As you develop your presentation, you may need additional facts on hunting, fishing and conservation. A good place to start is www.nhfday.org for info and links. Be sure to visit the Web sites of our sponsors and partners. Lots of good info there, too. You might wish to add local data, and a good source is your state’s wildlife conservation agency or department of natural resources.
3. Practice. Practice. Practice. To be a good shooter, you need practice. To be good at using a bait-casting reel, you need practice. Same deal to be a good presenter. After you develop your presentation, rehearse at least three times. Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Visualize your audience. Work to eliminate filler sounds and words like “um” and “you know.” Practice, pause and breathe. It’s also a good idea to rehearse with a timer to help fill your allotted speaking time.
4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and do a final run-through using the microphone, laptop, projector and other equipment.
5. Be proud. If you’re a hunter, angler or sport shooter, you’re part of the world’s best conservation system. Together, our successes are the envy of many, many countries. All Americans who enjoy wildlife and wild places benefit from the conservation programs that you’ve helped fund via licenses and taxes. In fact, statistics show that Americans overwhelmingly approve of legal, ethical hunting and fishing. So, in your presentation, don’t be afraid to show your energy and enthusiasm for this great heritage!
5 Tips for Effective Public Speaking
1. Before your presentation, learn as much as possible about your audience. Are they hunters and anglers? Are they wildlife enthusiasts? Are they kids? Knowing your listeners will help you communicate on their level. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive and get to know them. It will help you connect with your audience, and, besides, it’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
2. What you say is certainly more important than what people see. However, your appearance is an important aspect of presentation skills. The way you look can encourage your audience to listen and accept what you say. For example, camo hunting clothes or your favorite fishing cap might not be appropriate for a luncheon presentation for local businesspeople. Wear clothing suitable for the audience you are speaking to. If you aren’t sure, ask the program planner. When possible, dress one notch up from the audience.
3. Try not to read your presentation. Instead, try using only a list of your major points, looking at your audience and speaking from the heart. If you’re nervous, pick out friendly faces around the room and focus on communicating with them. Use conversational language, humor and personal stories to help make your points. It’s usually better to use your own stories rather than someone else’s. Your audience is more likely to see you as an authority if your thoughts and words are drawn from your own life experiences.
4. Most people understand that killing animals is sometimes a part of hunting and fishing. Still, it’s a sensitive topic. Don’t use gratuitous words, descriptions or photos that might offend your audience and diminish your effectiveness. Help your audience understand the respect and awe that hunters and anglers have for their quarry. Focus on the overall experience. It’s also good to remind listeners that fish and game are relished as food in your home. Everyone eats, so food is a good way to connect with people. Remember, though, that just because someone loves steak doesn’t mean they enjoy details about slaughtering and butchering cows. This rule applies even more when talking to the general public about wildlife.
5. Take advantage of any opportunities to promote your presentation and help spread the word about hunters, anglers and conservation. Post a flyer on a bulletin board. Send e-mail. Maybe there’s a newsletter that could publish an advance notice. Consider a teaser line such as:
“Keeping the Wild in Wildlife and Wild Places”
“Why Conservation Depends on Hunters and Anglers”
5 Tips for Answering Questions from the Audience
1. Lots of presentations end with questions and answers, which is OK, but try this. Take questions from the audience as your next-to-last item. After you’ve taken a few questions, say, “Our time together is almost over and I’d like to move us to our closing point.” Tell a story that ties in with your main theme, or summarize your key points. Conclude with a call to action, such as, “As a result of what you’ve learned here today, I hope you’ll get outside and take someone hunting or fishing—and be proud of what you’re contributing to conservation in America.”
2. Especially if your audience is large, it’s a good idea to repeat a question before answering it. Rephrase the question in your own words, if you prefer. This helps keep the audience engaged—and gives you time to think about the question and the best way to reply.
3. Don’t let an answer become a second speech. Keep it short.
4. Most often, listeners will ask straightforward questions dealing with the specifics of your presentation. No problem. But occasionally you may get a question that you’re not ready for, or one that could turn into a debate. There are two simple strategies to remember. First, if you don’t know the answer, just say so. Most people will understand if you admit it, but they may not appreciate it if you try to snow them. If it’s practical, promise to get back to them later with the right answer, and then do it. Second, if someone asks a question that seems confrontational, agree with them: “You’re right, that’s a concern among many hunters and anglers, too.” You’ve acknowledged the person’s interest and validated the importance of their question. After that, you can spin it off in any direction you wish, but try to bring the conversation back to your central points.
5. Maintain control. Sometimes listeners will grab an opportunity to comment, or tell their own hunting or fishing story, rather than ask a question. This deprives others in the audience from learning more about your message. Be polite, wait for the person to pause or take a breath, then say, “Thanks for your comment. Who else has a question?” If there’s no question, prime the pump by saying, “Something I’m often asked is…” or “One thing people always want to know is…” Then answer your own question. This will often entice the audience to ask more questions.