Speaking for Guide Dogs

I recently took part in a speaker’s training day for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. The training day took place at the Blind Veterans centre in Llandudno; a luxurious rehabilitation facility for visually impaired ex-Service men and women. I was part of a group of Guide dog owners, volunteers and Community Fundraisers who came together to learn how we can help represent Guide Dogs by speaking to the general public.

The aim of the day was to give us all the necessary information, techniques and tools to enable us to deliver presentations about the organisation. As Guide Dogs receive no government funding, they are entirely dependent on fundraising efforts and kind donations in order to keep funding the fantastic work that they do. Each dog can cost up to £50,000 throughout its lifetime, with advanced guiding training alone costing around £35,000 per dog. So I hope you’ll agree that funds are very much needed! One way of receiving these donations and recruiting more fundraisers is by delivering talks to groups, schools, companies etc. informing them of what exactly Guide Dogs do and how they can help.

Along with some helpful tips about the practical aspects of presentations, such as using PPT slides, effective use of props and engaging with the audience, we were also encouraged to tell our own stories of our experiences with Guide Dogs. Whether you’re a guide dog owner, boarder, puppy-walker or My Guide volunteer, everybody has their part to play in educating the public about what Guide Dogs do and how they change the lives of visually impaired people throughout the UK.

Some things to consider before speaking for Guide Dogs include:
· Timing – practice your talk, make note of how long it is and practice adjusting your script to fit the time you’re asked to speak for.

· Planning – Have an introduction, content (you’re experience) and a conclusion, making sure to mention ways that the audience can get involved. Use slides/notecards to keep you on track.

· Speak from experience – whatever your link to the charity, speaking from the heart will always make for a more effective presentation especially if your audience can sense your passion for the topic.

The training day was a great opportunity to meet with other locals involved with Guide Dogs and was really informative and helpful in giving me the confidence to speak on behalf of the charity. Being a bit of a newbie in Guide Dogs terms, having only had my first guide dog for six months, I now feel much better informed and qualified to answer the questions I get from the general public on a daily basis. The enthusiasm and passion of everyone in the group also motivated me to become a Speaker; to share my story with others, to inform and educate and to give something back to the charity who gave me my freedom, confidence and independence in the form of my beautiful Jazzy.

If you think you have a story to share, why not contact your local Guide Dogs Community Fundraiser who can let you know more about training and speaking opportunities. Alternatively, if you would like a Guide Dogs Speaker to visit your club, school or workplace to tell you more about Guide Dogs and how you can support this wonderful charity, why not contact your local Guide Dogs branch to organise a visit.

Visit http://www.guidedogs.org.uk to find out more about how you can support Guide Dogs.