When I team up with non-profit organizations to take their galas to the next level, we don't just wing it - we script it! While some speakers think bullet points are all they need to make it through their time on stage, I'm here to tell you why detailed scripts are the real MVPs of any gala. Why does having a detailed script matter? The reason is quite simple.
Using a bulleted script and veering off from that script runs the risk of throwing an entire fundraising event off course and that can negatively impact your fundraising results.
A fundraising gala is an important opportunity for nonprofits to raise critical funds, engage donors, and advocate for their causes. In the midst of the centerpieces, entertainment, food etc., the success of these events hinges not only on meticulous pre-planning but also on effective communication. Speakers and emcees play pivotal roles in conveying the organization's message and inspiring guests to support their mission. However, relying solely on bullet points or impromptu remarks can undermine the impact and professionalism of these crucial moments.
The number one issue with using bullet points instead of a detailed script is that speakers might lose sight of the road map and once that happens they risk not communicating the message that the organization is requesting of them as well as running over their allotted time. This might not be too problematic if one speaker goes over by 2 minutes but when you have an emcee and multiple speakers and they each run over on their time, the end result is an entire program that runs over and that negatively impacts fundraising. People often think that if a speaker is nervous they will become shy, quit talking and wrap up early. What I have seen is that the exact opposite occurs and that means speakers begin to ramble on with no end in sight.
I once witnessed a speaker go rogue. They strayed so far off their bullet points, they might as well have been on a treasure hunt! And when I thought it couldn’t get any worse they said, "Hey, Mom, come join me on stage." Unplanned, unscripted, and totally unexpected. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a quick 4-minute mission driven moment turned into a full-blown family reunion, clocking in at a whopping 16 minutes!
And here's the kicker: the program was already a bit behind because of a catering issue. It was like trying to slow down a runaway train with a feather duster! Once that late train leaves the station, good luck getting it back on track. Time is very easy to lose, but almost impossible to get back.
So there we were, 30+ minutes behind schedule, feeling like we'd been hit by a time tornado. Lesson learned: when it comes to galas, use a detailed script and coach your speakers about why staying on that script is so very important. Otherwise, you might find yourself sweating through a nightmare situation.
Crafting a detailed script allows speakers and emcees to convey the organization's message with clarity and in the manner that the organization wants the message to be conveyed. Every word matters in influencing guests’ perceptions and motivating them to donate. A well-scripted speech ensures that key points are communicated effectively, leaving no room for misinterpretation or ambiguity.
A detailed script also outlines the duration of each speech or segment, enabling organizers to manage time effectively and keep the event running smoothly. This impacts every aspect of the program from catering to AV to entertainment, fundraising, and ultimately the cost of the event. Running late, and potentially past the rental window costs money and that money spent eats into the money raised during the fundraising portion of a gala.
We know that people feel most confident when they feel in control of their situation. Delivering a moving speech or emceeing an event requires confidence and poise. A detailed script empowers speakers and emcees with the necessary structure and content to deliver their messages confidently. By knowing exactly what to say and when to say it, they can focus on engaging the audience and conveying their passion for the cause, rather than worrying about forgetting key points or stumbling over words. Having a detailed script doesn’t mean that a speaker needs to read the script in a robotic manner, quite the opposite. A detailed script gives the speaker the confidence to be able to infuse their personality and energy into the script which makes the script come alive and the impact of the script is felt by everyone in the room.
It’s important to keep in mind that everybody who takes the stage at a fundraising event represents the organization. Therefore, maintaining consistency in messaging and brand representation is paramount. A detailed script provides a framework for speakers and emcees to align their remarks with the organization's values, mission, and objectives. This ensures a cohesive and unified message that resonates with the audience and reinforces the nonprofit's credibility. Sometimes the non profit staff who are tasked with planning the event don’t know how to convey the importance of a detailed script. Remember that every person you bring onto the stage is a reflection on the organization. Regardless if you are paying someone to speak at your event, or someone has volunteered their time to speak at the event, as the host you have the right and I would say the absolute authority to require a detailed script. This allows the nonprofit/event planner to remain in control of the event and the flow of the progam. While there is no way to ever 100% guarantee that a speaker won’t go off script, having control of the scripting helps ensure that there are either no, or more accurately, fewer speaker surprises throughout the night.
When we think of fundraising events, where every moment counts, having a detailed script for speakers and emcees is not just a luxury but a necessity. It serves as the road map or the light house as the script ensures that the organization's message is conveyed effectively, the brand is represented consistently, time is managed efficiently, and speakers are professional and confident on stage. For event organizers and nonprofits planning fundraising galas, ensuring that speakers and emcees have detailed scripts is crucial for maximizing the impact of the event. By recognizing the importance of scripted communication, nonprofits can enhance the success of their fundraising galas and create lasting impact in their communities.