Posted on

Sizzling, or Just Nice?

We say your Point of Entry Event must be sizzling, but what do we mean by that? We mean memorable, compelling, and gripping, even life-changing. It has to leave a visceral imprint on the guest—something they will never forget.

The event needs to tug at the heartstrings several times by including four or five stories, told first person, by letter or using audio tape.

In addition to inspiring people, the Point of Entry needs to let each guest know that you would love to have them get more involved with your organization, in whatever way works for them, ideally by becoming an Ambassador and hosting and filling a private tour with ten or more of their friends or colleagues.

Guests need to know that no matter how nice your surroundings look, you are not “handled.” The mission you are here to fulfill still urgently needs them: you haven’t yet cured that disease yet, ended child abuse or homelessness. There’s still more work to be done.

Unfortunately, not all the Point of Entry Events we visit are that sizzling. Although our groups often give themselves high marks when they rate themselves on their events, our coaches don’t always agree. We see Point of Entry Events that may be technically correct in that they follow the proper one-hour agenda, but they don’t knock your socks off.

These lackluster events leave guests saying, “What an interesting group. Those people obviously know what they’re doing.” But they aren’t compelled to take action. Guests need to leave your Point of Entry saying, “I had no idea,”  or “Wait until I tell Jane—this is just the kind of thing she would love.”

In other words, even if guests choose not to become personally involved, they should be so excited about what they saw that they think  of other people they’d like to tell about it: people for whom your issue is “just their thing.”

I recall an exceptional Point of Entry I visited for a residential treatment home for children who had been abused and neglected. It had a wonderful theme: hands. I was greeted at the front door by an adult and child. The child took my hand and walked me over to the sign-in table. I was both physically and emotionally “touched” from the minute I arrived.

There were handprints of children used as metaphors throughout the Point of Entry. As victims of abuse, these children had come to associate hands with bad things. This residential program aimed to transform that image for these children. They wove this theme into the stories told, and we viewed pictures of handprints in the bedrooms and hallways as we toured the building.

The most memorable moment for me was the finale of that Point of Entry. Each guest was escorted by a child to a tray filled with colorful finger paint, where we got to make our own handprint on a big group poster. I will never forget that little five-year-old boy holding my hand proudly as we walked over to the paint, rolling up my sleeve, covering my hand with the slippery red paint, pushing down on the back of my hand to be sure every single digit was imprinted on the paper, and then walking me over to the bucket of warm soapy water, washing off the paint, and carefully drying my hand.

Before I left, I knelt down and gave him a hug, thanking him for the wonderful experience. It was such a proud moment for this child to know he had made a difference with me. Talk about memorable! It had been a long time since I’d done any finger painting, and the love and care that little boy took in helping me make a beautiful hand print spoke volumes about the work this organization does every day.

I went right home and told several people about this organization and, had I lived in that town, I would defintely have volunteered to serve as an Ambassador and host my own Point of Entry Event.

Keep asking yourself—and other people whose opinion you value: “Did our Point of Entry Event move you to tears?”