The purpose of any Responder’s reply to this question is to get their Listener's approval to proceed to the next step.
A concise response, no longer than thirty seconds, should communicate without doubt that Responders know what Rotary is and are pleased to discuss the topic. In less than twenty seconds, most Listeners make the decision on whether or not they are interested in gathering more information even on topics that relate to them. If Listeners are part of Responders' target audiences, and if the response piques their interest, Listeners will most likely give Responder permission to proceed to the next level. Without permission, Responder will be invading Listeners’ privacy! They will most likely mentally shut down interest, often staring as Responder blahs on. If Responders do not have an effective response, they are communicating lack of knowledge about Rotary. Again, Listeners will most likely shut down interest because they are not confident that Responders' information is authentic.
But the prime Importance of Being Earnest (and brief) lies in taking the time to create an effective response.
Except for Rotary International staff, Rotary leadership changes every one or two years. Everyone, particularly those in leadership positions, should have an effective fifteen-to-thirty second "What is Rotary?" response. Creating such a response and embedding it into personal response chambers can be tedious and time consuming because one must know:
- The target audiences and their common characteristics.
- What desires the target audiences have that Rotary could, and should, satisfy.
- How Rotary differentiates from competitive forces and may be beneficial to the target audience.
Taking the time and effort needed to prepare such a response will embed important Rotary fundamentals in personal mindsets. This will help everyone, especially leaders, become more comfortable, confident, and competent in their positions.
Two previous Rotatorials address the importance of identifying target audiences and differentiation.