The Mentoring Process

The First Meeting

When beginning your journey with a new mentee, you should schedule a first "getting to know each other" meeting. If you can, try to meet the mentee in person - it might be in a coffee shop, in a park, at a co-working space, etc.  You can also meet at the club venue, before or after the meeting.

If that is not possible, you can use any other technology for online meetings - Facebook or WhatsApp calls, Skype, etc.  What is fundamental is to be able to see each other so that you can interiorize that you're talking to a real person.

Enquire about the interests of the mentee. Most people have a preference towards one of the big "legs" of the Agora program - it may be leadership, it may be debating / critical thinking, it may be public speaking.  Ask about his expectations, his experience so far. Share your own experience in those areas - regardless of whether that experience has been within Agora or elsewhere.

You should emerge from the first meeting with:

  • A clear understanding of the expectations of the mentee and his short and long-term goals.
  • A clear set of rules as to the path forward, including how often and when you're going to meet or have mentoring sessions (i.e. - a routine)
  • An agreement on which communication channel you will use to get in touch with each other. Don't disperse and stick to one channel - be that EMail, WhatsApp, telephone, facebook, etc. Only in exceptional circumstances (such as when someone has to send an attachment or a video recording, etc.), you may decide on additional options such as a file transfer service or EMail.
  • A short-term immediate goal for the next meeting.
  • A commitment by the mentee about the amount of time he will be dedicated to the task.

Mentoring Activities for Public Speaking

Mentoring for public speaking usually has two aspects:

  • Speech content
  • Speech delivery

For speech content, you'd usually want to see a draft of the speech beforehand. Check all the basics - structure, argumentation, language, opening, ending, etc. Then make suggestions on how to improve them. This process can be repeated several times until the speech is ready. Remember that your goal here is

For mentoring on speech delivery, it's best if you ask the mentee to deliver the speech live - either in person or during the video call itself. Recorded speeches are not a good indicator, because you never know how many attempts went into the recording, whether it has been edited, or it may simply be the case that the mentee is more comfortable speaking in front of a webcam than in front of someone "present".

Specifically for projects from the Educational Path, make sure the mentee understands the goals of each of the projects and that he's aware of the evaluation criteria. Make him aware that he can get in touch with his evaluator to request that he is also vigilant of other issues of particular concern to the mentee. For example, even though a particular project might be about Body Language, the speaker may ask the evaluator to monitor his use of rhetorical devices.

A usual problem is a mentee running out of ideas on what to speak. Always encourage mentees to speak on things that matter to them or that they feel strongly about, even if they are controversial, or seem dry. In fact, an interesting challenge for a mentor would be precisely advising someone on how to present a controversial opinion in a way that doesn’t alienate or antagonize the audience, or how to present a supposedly dull topic in a way that is engaging and entertaining.

As a mentor, you should be present at the meeting where the mentee is going to present his project. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, don't sit at the front row - you have already had enough "first-row" experiences during the private sessions. Instead, sit at the back. This will allow you to experience the speech from the viewpoint of the audience, on the worst possible point. Thus, you will be able to immediately notice problems that are not apparent CUT otherwise, such as props being only partially visible, voice not projected well enough, eye-contact problems with part of the audience, etc.

Try to talk privately with your mentee after the presentation has finished. Explore how he felt, whether he’s happy with the way things turned out, etc.

Mentoring for Community Projects

Mentoring for community projects will involve basically doing pre- and post-mortem meetings for each of the stages of the project.

  • In the pre-mortem meeting, you analyze with your mentee.
  • whether he's fully prepared for the step that is about to be executed
  • whether it has been properly planned and
  • whether the expectations are realistic and documented.

Offer suggestions and advice on how to improve the existing plan, but remember - do not do the work of the mentee. Also, remember that this is a mentor-mentee relationship and not a partners' relationship. As such, try to refrain from sliding into an "our project" mindset, in which you become a participant on an equal basis with the mentee, doing brainstorming sessions and bouncing ideas back and forth. You want to offer advice and suggestions, but the project must remain the mentee's project.

For example, a project may have a "fundraising" stage. Meet with your mentee before the fundraising activity is executed and check things like:


  • Is there a reasonable fundraising plan?
  • Are there specific actions to be executed, specific people responsible for them, and specific parties to be contacted for this activity?
  • Is it easy for all contacted parties to make a donation?
  • Is a concrete dollar amount mentioned?
  • Are the expectations realistic?
  • What can go wrong? Are the risks documented? What strategies are in place to handle them?

·         etc…

After the stage is executed, check out the results with your mentee. Were there any problems? Expected, unexpected? What can be done better?
If a specific community project step is long (more than a week), it's a good idea to schedule several in-process meetings to check how things are going.


Mentoring for Meeting Roles


Mentoring for a specific role will usually involve a one-time meeting that will include:

Clarifying questions about that role. Note, however, that you should not explain the role. Remember the rule that mentees should do their own work. This includes reading the documentation about the role and watching the appropriate videos. Only answer questions that are not clearly answered in the documentation.

Doing a small rehearsal for the role, and providing feedback on how it was done.

Assisting the mentee in his interaction with the Agora Online Platform and/or with the club officers in order to help him secure that role in a future meeting.




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Page last modified on Thursday December 5, 2019 00:24:26 CET by agora.