How to Prepare a Rotary Classification Talk

Vocational Service Start

A great way to share information about your vocation is to give a classification talk or presentation at a club meeting.

When a lawyer named Paul Harris, a coal dealer, a mining engineer, and a merchant tailor first met in 1905 in Chicago, they gave birth to Rotary and, by the nature of their diverse occupations, to the association’s most distinctive feature – the classification principle. Today, the classification principle, though modified, remains a cornerstone of Rotary. Upon joining Rotary, you are lent a classification by the Board of Directors to reflect your occupation or primary source of income. By limiting active membership by classifications, each club becomes a cross-section of the business and professional life of the community it serves.  Also, the classification principle makes sure that no one profession or business becomes the dominant force within the club.

Another benefit of the classification system is that representatives of many fields are brought together, providing the opportunity for Rotarians to broaden their knowledge of the contemporary workplace. This, in turn, enables Rotarians to fulfill one of the basic obligations of vocational service – recognizing the worthiness to society of all useful occupations.

The guidelines below are designed to help you prepare and give a good presentation.

Preparing your Classification Talk / Presentation
Write an outline of points you want to cover. Go from general characteristics of your career field to the specific duties involved in your particular job today. Examples might include:

  • Why you chose your particular business or profession
  • Parts of your job you find most rewarding and most difficult.
  • Forecast employment opportunities in your field for the coming decade.
  • Advice you would give persons entering your career field.
  • How your profession is being impacted by technology, government regulations, and environmental factors.
  • Ethical issues you face at work, and how the Rotary 4-Way Test and the Rotary Code of Conduct helps you deal with them.

Know your Rotary Audience

Rotary is a professional business service culture based on farming or cultivating relationships and not hunting for business.  This means that Rotarians are not there at a meeting to be “pitched” or sold to.  The purpose behind a Rotary Classification Talk / Presentation is to first educate your audience about your profession and to demonstrate your credibility through your knowledge of your vocation.  Once Rotarians are comfortable with you and have gotten to know you, they will engage in professional business relationships with you or assist you in building your business.   Always keep in mind, The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

  • FIRST. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  • SECOND. High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  • THIRD. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
  • FOURTH. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

Presenting your Classification Talk / Presentation

  • Speak clearly and in an audible tone – stick to your prepared text or outline
  • Use hand movements sparingly –avoid nervous habits such as coughing or twitching.
  • Maintain eye contact with your fellow Rotarians and always face your audience.
  • Avoid the urge to rush though your 3-5 minute talk or 20-30 min presentation to “get it over with.”
  • Try to relax as much as possible and put genuine emotion into your voice.
  • Visuals such as PowerPoint can enliven your talk. Be sure equipment is at our meeting place with a technician familiar with your plans. The Rotary club coordinator can be helpful at the time of your equipment set up before the meeting.

How you share information about your profession is up to you! Relax and enjoy your opportunity to educate your fellow Rotarians about your vocation.