Regionalizing Rotary’s brand for maximum impact

This month’s Rotary Leader featured RPIC Christina Bredin in the “Ask the Expert” column.  Christina wrote about her region’s efforts on the Strengthening Rotary initiative and shared some tips for regionalizing our brand.  What are some ways you have regionalized the Strengthening Rotary initiative in your Zones?  Have you seen any strong examples from others?

There is an old Latin saying: “Constant dropping wears away the stone.” Implementing Rotary’s brand in the Nordic countries has been like that. It has required constant communication with Rotary members in every district and club. To motivate people to adopt changes, you have to give them good background information about why the changes are necessary.

In our part of the world, Strengthening Rotary is very much about changing the concept of Rotary from a closed, invisible organization to an open, visible one. The new generation does not mind promoting Rotary, but we have had to advise more-established members that it is good to wear shirts, jackets, or vests with the Rotary logo when out on the street, and to address the public.


In Sweden, we felt it was imperative that we update the Swedish website to communicate that something new and fresh was happening in Rotary. That way, members in all parts of Sweden were informed at the same time about Rotary’s facelift.

Rotary’s Brand Center has made it easier for coordinators and Rotary leaders at both the club and district level to motivate clubs to use the new look. Some district public relations chairs even used the Brand Center to make logos for all of their clubs so the logos were consistent throughout the district. We plan soon to implement a Swedish version of the Brand Center that will have material translated into Swedish.

The reaction of Rotary members has been very positive since it was made clear that the lapel pin would stay the “old way” — another example of the importance of clear communication.

Here are some other tips for regionalizing Rotary’s brand:


  • Hold PR seminars regularly in your district
  • Include the Strengthening Rotary presentation at every district event.
  • Include an item about the brand in the governor’s monthly newsletter.
  • Train members to share their Rotary moment.


  • Public relations is best in the native tongue, so translate PR materials from Rotary International.
  • Hold webinars to reach a wide audience in a cost-effective way.
  • Keep your newsletters short and to the point.
  • Use Facebook and other social media often.


  • Form PR teams made up of representatives from clubs in a given area to cooperate in events and other PR activities.
  • Create forums for the exchange of ideas and sharing of material.
  • Involve Rotarians who are PR professionals

Being your best presenter

Presentation imageBy Mark Kreibel, 2015 Regional Leader’s Training Institute Facilitator

In March, RPIC Shirley Downie shared best practices for tailoring your responses to the audience’s tough questions. To be a good presenter, you also need to tailor your presentation to each audience to make sure it is effective and engaging.

Many readers may feel that presenting to a group is challenging and intimidating!  Here are a dozen tips to help you get rid of your stage fright and take your presentations to the next level:

  1. Talk naturally to your audience. Even though you are speaking to a large group, make the audience feel you are having a conversation with each of them individually.  Avoid reading a script.
  2. Try to stand, rather than sit. Move around the stage if possible and keep your movements natural, rather than forced.  In some instances, sitting can be used to create an intimate conversation atmosphere, a technique often used by Past RI President Bill Boyd; while standing behind a podium might add a level of formality to your presentation.
  3. Vary the tone, pitch and volume of your voice. Use your voice to add emphasis and maintain the audience’s interest.  Try to speak loudly and clearly while facing your audience.  Avoid talking in a monotone voice or turning your back to the audience. Remember you are telling a story, not simply relating facts and figures.
  4. Make eye contact with your audience.  Gain eye contact with as many individual members of the audience as possible.  If stage lighting prevents you from actually seeing the audience, vary where you look toward them and pretend you are making eye contact.
  5. Use visual aids where appropriate.  Graphs and charts, diagrams, pictures, and video can enhance any presentation, but don’t overdo it.  Visual aids should help illustrate and strengthen your points, not simply repeat or be a distraction from your spoken message. If you use lists or text on your slides, don’t read them verbatim!  Or, even better, create an effective presentation without using PowerPoint. Your voice and your movements are your best visual aid.
  6. Rehearse your presentation.  A good presenter makes their speech look spontaneous and natural, but this comes from sufficient rehearsal.  Make certain to time your rehearsals to stick to the allotted time, and allow for question and answer time when appropriate.
  7. Prepare and structure your presentation carefully.  Introduce the subject – tell the audience what your talk is about.  Explain the points you wish to convey.  End with a summary of your points.
  8. Stay focused throughout your presentation. Avoid irrelevant and unnecessary detail. Stay on topic and don’t go down any tangents that don’t directly relate to your topic. Focus your message through a relevant personal story or anecdote.
  9. Avoid nervous gestures and speech. Putting your hands in your pockets, crossing your arms, jingling change, and overusing “filler words” (aahh, err, and uh) detract from your talk.  Appropriate hand gestures can add emphasis to your presentation. When you rehearse, practice moving with purpose, and not simply pacing.
  10. Answer any questions as honestly and concisely as you can.  If you don’t know the answer, then say so and offer to provide further information at a later date. If appropriate, offer to follow up with the questioner one-on-one … and then fulfill that promise.
  11. Challenge the audience with a “Call to Action.”  Finish your presentation by motivating your audience to take a specific action, such as implementing one best practice you talked about or sharing a particular statistic with their club.
  12. Thank the audience for their time and attention.  This simple act shows the audience you appreciate their time and attention.

By thinking critically about your presentation, you can improve your skills and confidence. Reviewing and implementing these twelve tips will set you up for presentation success!

One other tip: Arrive early and get to know your space and your tools. Walk around the stage to become familiar with it. Test your microphone if you have one. Set up anything you think you might need during your presentation, such as notes or a bottle of water. Leave yourself time just before your presentation to prepare mentally, and not worry about minor details like these.

And remember: in almost every instance, the audience is on your side and wants you to succeed. If you are feeling nervous, think of them not as an audience, but as the silent members of your team!

Answering tough questions

By Shirley Downie, Rotary public image coordinator, Zone 20A (South)

How many different audiences have you encountered during your Rotary career? It’s probably countless! You have probably fielded 100s of questions.

When dealing with the different audiences, you can personalize your responses by considering some of the following guidelines:

  • Define the situation – Do extensive research beforehand on events and programmes. Ask these five questions to get at the motivation of your audience–who, what, when, why, and where?
  • Establish and share the objectives: Confirm the goals, aims and achievements. Outline new objectives specifically and make sure they are measurable, achievable and attainable.
  • Identify the target audience: When you embark on any event or programme, identify the type of audience you are talking to. Are they internal, such as other Rotarians, Rotaractors, etc.? Or are they external such as media, government, etc.? Draw up a list of everyone that could be involved in the event/programme. Depending on who is addressing you, think carefully about your response – repeat the question to ensure you have understood it and once you have responded, ask if they are happy with the answer.
  • Create a specific message: Once you have identified your different audiences, think about the most common questions likely to be raised. Surprise your audience by responding to a frequently asked question in a unique way. Use creative angles when responding and avoid the same old standard response. Consider including specific information. For example, if you are addressing the media, include quotations and photos and highlight Rotary’s amazing achievements – such as Polio eradication – for the press article.
  • Explain how: Outline how the project or initiative will proceed. Include the estimated timeframes.
  • Include amounts: Tough questions frequently ask about money or funds. Include the budget where applicable and acknowledge where the funds have come from or who they are going to.
  • Talk about evaluation: Include the evaluation strategy. How many people will benefit? What tools are you using to measure the outcomes? Is it sustainable? Were the objectives met?

For easy reference, remember the acronym DOTMABE:


Good luck with your question and answer sessions!

Using My Rotary to Connect with Others

Get Connected

By Adelita Hernandez, Connections Specialist, Rotary Service Connections

 Connecting with Rotarians and Rotaractors is easier than ever on My Rotary. Enhancements to groups and profiles and increased awareness of the My Rotary community have helped the growth of these valuable tools that help you connect online to your Rotary network. Increased member engagement through the Rotary social business tools has made My Rotary even more useful and interesting.

As Rotary’s community grows, more and more Rotarians and Rotaractors are joining and participating in discussion groups. With more than 350 groups to choose from, you are sure to find more than one topic that interests you. Many of the groups are growing. Next time you’re looking at your group, check out what other groups are available. If you don’t find a group that meets your needs, start a new group!

Some of our members are taking their groups from good to great by engaging their audiences in simple but effective ways.

  • Past District Governor Robert Harness started the Using Social Media in Rotary Clubs He helps his group grow by regularly inviting new members and monitoring and moderating discussions.
  • Rotarian Educators has a seen a steady increase of members each week thanks to the dedicated efforts of group creator Rotarian Maria Bossa. Maria always responds to posts and welcomes new members.
  • Membership Best Practices is another popular group due to the relevant and interesting discussions that are happening around membership. For example, the value proposition of Rotary to new members and retention and growth in clubs.

These three groups are often among the top ten most active groups on My Rotary because of the efforts of their administrators.

Daily notifications make it easy for you to stay up to date on group activity. If there’s no activity in your groups then you won’t get an email. Since notifications were added to My Rotary, we’ve seen an increase in group growth. The key to making your group grow is to actively post questions and experiences. Groups with the most recent posts are always listed first; it’s important to keep discussions moving to ensure the success of your group.

You can also use My Rotary to find and connect other Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Alumni. Search by name, skills, or interest and to find others who have interests in common with you.

Five Tips for More Engaging Webinars

by Adam Arents, Learning Technology Supervisor, Rotary International

Rotary WebinarsWe have all sat through one-sided presentations where the speaker presented information, and the audience’s role was to absorb it. But webinars are different. Through the various features of webinar software, attendees can participate and engage with presenters and organizers on an individual basis – something you can’t do in a large general session.

Webinars have great potential to make presentations or trainings a two-way street, where knowledge, perspective, and experiences are being shared from attendees and presenters. This type of communication is successful only if the organizers and presenters engage attendees to step outside of the typical way of presenting and invite attendees to participate in meaningful ways. Before you can create a more engaging webinar, learn best practices for setting up your own webinar and tips for building a valuable webinar.

Here are five tips for making your next webinar more engaging for participants:

  1. Tell attendees what is expected of them – Attendees are more likely to interact if you let them know in advance what you will be asking them to do. For example, if you plan to unmute people’s lines, share that information beforehand so they can be prepared with a microphone and a question or insight to share.
  2. Put attendees to work with a to-do list – When people arrive for a webinar, engage them from the beginning by providing a list of items that they can do while they are waiting for the webinar to start. For example, ask attendees to send you a chat with one challenge they have experienced with the subject matter. This will give you an idea of what information is most relevant for your audience. Show the to-do list to attendees on your screen before the session starts so those who arrive early have something to work on.
  3. Get them talking early – Ask a substantive question that each person can answer from their personal experience to get attendees talking. This will get them in the habit of taking part in the discussion and increase participation throughout the webinar.
  4. Don’t leave questions until the end – Pause throughout the webinar to answer questions or solicit feedback from the audience. This shows people you are listening to their contributions and encourages more interaction.
  5. Use polls to guide your presentation’s content – Be prepared to adapt your presentation based on what you learn from attendees through polls, questions, and comments. This will make your session more dynamic and relevant to your audience.

What audience interaction or engagement tips would you add to this list?