How to Plan a Successful Community Presentation

Finding new ways to market your funeral home can sometimes be frustrating, especially if you’ve tried ideas in the past that didn’t provide an immediate return on your efforts. One approach that has seen recent growth is holding community presentations about advance funeral planning. In fact, funeral homes who have successfully executed group presentations have reported that as many as 75% of those who attend set up future appointments to discuss their preneed options.

If you’ve never given or planned a community presentation before, it can be a daunting and overwhelming task, especially when it is outside your comfort zone. It’s important to go back to the basics and remember what you may have been taught in high school English class. The five Ws, plus H – who, what, where, when, why and how – can be used to outline the important information that should be included in your presentation.  

Why?

The first question you should ask is why – Why do you want to host a community presentation? Why is preneed important? Why should you share this with people in your community? Discovering your purpose in planning a community engagement event helps to keep you focused and motivated.

What?

Now that you know why you want to plan a community engagement event, what are you going to present? What information are you going to share with people in your community? What is most important for them to know?

You don’t have to create this information from scratch. Homesteaders has created a Community Engagement Program that contains all the materials necessary to plan, promote and present community presentation events.

Who?

This question is two-fold.

Who will be giving the presentation? It is important for the person presenting to be comfortable with public speaking. They should engage the audience, be able to ask and answer questions and keep the conversation going after the presentation. The presenter should set the stage and put people at ease while also sharing their own expertise.

Who will you invite to your event? Knowing your audience can help answer some of the logistical questions. Inviting retirees could mean that a weekday lunch and learn would be the best option. If you are inviting Veterans, you may consider scheduling your event to coincide with one of their prescheduled monthly gatherings.

When?

Now it’s time to decide on logistics. When are you going to hold this event? Are you having a lunch and learn or a dinner program? What day of the week is best for your audience?

Days during the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) tend to work best since they tend to give you a buffer of business days to confirm RSVPs the day before and follow up after the presentation. Keep in mind this will also depend on your audience. Don’t be afraid to try something a little outside the box to see if you get better attendance. Some firms choose to host two sessions of an event – one at lunch and one in the evening – to accommodate different schedule needs.

Where?

Holding your event in the right venue is important, and there are so many possibilities. Do you want to hold your presentation at a neutral location such as a local restaurant? Could you host a catered event at your funeral home? Would you go to a retirement community or Veterans organization?

A lunch and learn or dinner program at a restaurant could put attendees at ease since it is a more casual, neutral environment. It is important to find a restaurant with a meeting room and have a limited menu available to simplify the process for the restaurant staff. This can be set up with the restaurant when you make your reservation.

If you are hosting an event at your firm or at an outside organization (retirement community, American Legion, etc.) you can typically have the event catered or contact the venue for menu options.

How?

This is a big question. How will you prepare? How will you promote your event? How will you deliver your presentation? How will you follow up? How will you measure your return on investment?

It is important to be prepared when you arrive at your event. If you are planning to make community presentations a regular part of your preneed marketing, it’s helpful to have a “to go” box that contains all the supplies you’ll need at your event. Plenty of survey/evaluation copies, pens, business cards, brochures to hand out, giveaways, any necessary A-V equipment, etc. When you return from each event, restock the box so it’s ready to go for next time.

Homesteaders has created a Community Engagement Program that includes all the promotional and presentation materials you will need to host a successful event. The presentation toolkits include:

  • A customizable PowerPoint presentation
  • A presenter’s checklist to ensure success before and after the presentation
  • A presentation guide with script suggestions
  • A promotional postcard to personalize with your funeral home’s information
  • A sample press release to announce your event to the community
  • Templates for social media posts to promote your event
  • Evaluation/surveys to collect feedback and leads
  • A follow-up tip sheet to turn leads into preneed sales

Community events are a good opportunity to establish yourself as an expert and also build trust in your funeral home. Answering these simple questions will help you organize and focus to deliver effective presentations. Have you experienced success with community presentations? If so, please share any additional tips in the comments.

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