Providing thank-you letters for guest speakers' portfolios

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<ul><li><p>54 Volume 25, Number 1</p><p>Y our guest speaker has informed, illuminated, andinspired your staff/members. Afterward, thisspeaker will benefit most if you express your appreci-ation by:a. Telling the individual personally.b. Sending a handwritten informal note.c. Handing the person a generic, typed letter pre-</p><p>pared beforehand.d. Creating a formal letter listing scores and/or</p><p>anecdotal comments.Todays trend requires speakers to provide evi-</p><p>dence of their skill beyond word-of-mouth or self-de-scription. Although etiquette in social circumstancesdemands a more personal touch, professional speak-ers need formal proof that they communicate effec-tively through the lectures listed on their curriculumvitae.</p><p>You can help the speaker with this need by creat-ing a document (answer d) that provides objectivefeedback about the quality of the presentation. Modi-fy the following format to suit the information gath-ered by your sponsoring organization.</p><p>Statement of involvementOn letterhead, start by thanking the person for partic-ipating in the course/offering. Include the name, date,and location of the course/offering. National associa-tions and hospitals stand on their own recognition,but for lesser-known entities, an annotation such asthe following lends credibility: The Compass MedicalEducation Network has offered quality, accreditednursing continuing education programs for 15 years.Then state the topic(s) of the persons presentationand indicate if it was a repeat invitation.</p><p>Quantified scoresWhen evaluation forms are used, list objective scoresalong with the rating scale used. The scale needs to beincluded because of the lack of a consistent standardamong various organizations. Ranges vary from 4 to 6values. Some rating scales use the rating 1 as unac-ceptable, whereas others score it as excellent.</p><p>A list of objective scores and the rating scaleused might be indicated as follows: Our participantswritten evaluations rank presenters from a 1 (poor)to 5 (outstanding). Your scores were: presentationskills (4.5), knowledge of topic (4.7), responsiveness toquestions (3.9), and quality of audiovisual/handouts(4.6). Whereas the results clearly communicate thatthe speaker was well received, it cues her or him to aweaker element (question answering) that can be afocus for future improvement.</p><p>Consider noting the size of the audience, especial-ly if it is largesome planners specifically seek speak-ers experienced in speaking to large groups. You alsomay want to indicate if less than 70% of the attendeesturned in an evaluation form. Sometimes a more nega-tive bent surfaces when the response rate is low; onespeculation is that only persons with complaints both-er to complete an evaluation. Also, mention membersof any other professional disciplines in attendance toillustrate the versatility required of the speaker:These results are based on the 75 responses received</p><p>Polly Gerber Zimmermann is ED per diem Staff Nurse, SwedishCovenant Hospital; Associate Nurse, American Airlines, OHare In-ternational Airport; and Adjunct Faculty, Harry S. Truman College,Chicago, Ill.For reprints, write: Polly Gerber Zimmermann, RN, MS, MBA, CEN,4200 N. Francisco, Chicago, IL 60618.J Emerg Nurs 1999;25:54-5.Copyright 1999 by the Emergency Nurses Association.0099-1767/99 $8.00 + 0 18/9/95119</p><p>Nurse EducatorProviding thank-you letters for guestspeakers portfoliosAuthor: Polly Gerber Zimmermann, RN, MS, MBA, CEN, Chicago, Ill</p><p>On letterhead, start bythanking the person forparticipating in thecourse/offering. Include thename, date, and location ofthe course/offering.</p></li><li><p>February 1999 55</p><p>Zimmermann/JOURNAL OF EMERGENCY NURSING</p><p>from our 200 registered nurse and physician residentparticipants.</p><p>Subjective remarksWith or without quantified scores, the written-in orspoken comments often best capture the flavor of theaudiences reactions. List a few descriptors, indicat-ing the frequency with parentheses:</p><p>Written remarks (or audience feedback) included: Excellent speaker (9) Beautiful slides (5) Well versed on topic Very practical I could have listened all day</p><p>Most persons do not include negative commentsthat reflect a style preference or something beyondthe speakers control, such as This should be offeredearlier in the day or Dont take any questions untilthe end of the talk.</p><p>Work characteristicsNote if the person was timely, thorough, or flexible.Such traits pop out to harried course planners whohave war stories about a presenters behavior or ex-pectations that created extra, behind-the-scene work.</p><p>Repeater?Conclude with a statement about your intention to in-vite the speaker to return: We hope we will have theprivilege of hearing you speak again at one of our fu-ture offerings. This statement is the bottom line be-cause it indicates that, amidst all the details, some-thing went very right.</p><p>The mediocre speakerLet the objective data speak for itself when the talkwas less than desired. A few bland remarks such asdisorganized, mumbles (4), or outdated informa-tion say it all to the experienced reviewer who typi-cally hears more complimentary phrases.</p><p>Often mediocre speakers are aware of their weak-nesses. They probably will not use this experience fortheir self-promotion, but you have provided directionfor future growth.</p><p>Conclusion: Its a giftWriting a reference appreciation letter takes time.However, your speaker probably gave you his/herpreparation and presentation time for minimal com-pensation. In addition to any verbal thanks or personalnote, I often indicate I hope you can use this to obtainadditional future engagements for your worthy talk.</p><p>In the end, a summarizing letter is a way to showyour gratitude beyond the level of common courtesy.You will be providing a usable testimony toward thepersons future success.</p><p>Contributions to this column are welcomed and encouraged. Submissions should be sent toGail Pisarcik Lenehan, EdD, RN, c/o Manag-ing Editor; ENA, 216 Higgins Rd, Park Ridge, IL60068-5736; phone (847) 698-9400; E-mail:khalm@ena.org.</p><p>The written-in or spokencomments often bestcapture the flavor of theaudiences reactions. List afew descriptors, indicatingthe frequency withparentheses.</p><p>Journal Theme Issue</p><p>The Journal of Emergency Nursing invites submissions for its theme issue.The December 1999 theme issue of the Journal will be dedicated toEmergency Nursing: Past, Present, and Future. Submit articles to KarenHalm, Managing Editor, Journal of Emergency Nursing, 216 Higgins Rd,Park Ridge, IL 60068-5736. Call (800) 900-9659, ext. 325, for deadline andsubmission information.</p></li></ul>