As a service provider and someone who sells their expertise and know-how, one of the best ways to get your message out to numerous people at the same time is through public speaking. When you speak at networking events, industry associations or conferences, you’re able to position yourself as an expert, gain credibility by “association” (i.e. if the organisation putting on the event has credibility with the audience, then so will you) and get many more people exposed to your message than might be possible by other means.
Public speaking is not for everybody (we’re not all natural performers!), but if you regularly attend networking events, then you may as well gain the much greater exposure you’ll get as the speaker, than if you simply attend and only get to connect with a few people.
Here are 10 tips for maximising this marketing opportunity:
- Make sure you speak at events that your target market attends
OK, this may seem obvious – but most people get this wrong at some stage. If your target market is large corporations, and you find yourself speaking at an event attended by small business owners, then you’re probably not going to get a lot of good business out of it.
- Choose a topic that your audience wants to learn more about, and create an intriguing topic title
Design your talks around some aspect of the service that you provide that your audience doesn’t currently understand, but wants to know more about. Create interesting and curiosity provoking titles so that event organisers and attendees alike will be intrigued and want to know more.
- Educate your audience – don’t try to sell them anything
The worst talks are always those that involve obvious pitching and selling. Not only is this totally transparent to most people, but these kinds of talks are usually pretty boring. I would suggest that you be smarter than that and use “subliminal” selling. This is not as mysterious as it sounds. All you have to do is give enough information to whet the appetite of your audience, without giving away the farm. (Simply stated, this involves you explaining a concept and telling them what to do, but not how to do it). By speaking knowledgably on your chosen topic you’ll be positioning yourself as an expert and the person to come to for advice next time they have a need for your category of service.
- Keep it simple and interactive
Most of us can only concentrate for up to 20 minutes at a time, and most people are not auditory, so learning through listening can be quite challenging. Therefore you should aim to get across only one or two key concepts in your talk, and make it interactive to keep people’s attention. And whatever you do, please don’t do “death by slides”! Powerpoint slides should be used to clarify your message, not bamboozle or bore your audience to death!
- Practice, practice, practice
What are the 3 P’s of presenting? Preparation, preparation and preparation! I suggest that you write out your speech in it’s entirety, and then practice speaking it a few times – the cat or dog will probably humour you in this endeavour (or your plants or a long-suffering partner!) Once you’ve rehearsed it a few times, you can list the main points on some index cards, rather than reading a script. This way your talk will seem more natural.
- Create your own events
To gain even greater marketing leverage from public speaking you can create your own events. Perhaps you can partner with some other business owners who share your target market, but who don’t compete with you, to hold an event that you invite your combined contacts to.
- If the thought of speaking in front of people terrifies you or if you want to reach a geographically dispersed audience then … do a teleclass instead!
There’s no reason to limit yourself to only those events that you and your audience can physically get to. Setting up a teleclass, teleseminar or webinar is pretty easy and inexpensive these days.
- Re-purpose and re-use your talk
The mistake a lot of people make is to assume that every time they give a talk, they’ve got to come up with something new. But this is just extra work and extra stress. After all, comedians don’t do a different show at every venue they play at, so unless your audience is the same people, then you don’t need a new talk! Most high-fee earners have a signature talk that they’ve perfected over the months or years, and they’ll be invited to events to give that specific talk.
- End your talk with an offer
Unless you give talks for the good of your health, you’ll want to motivate your audience to take the next step with you. Most speakers miss the critical step of giving a “call to action” at the end of their talks, or they aim for the immediate sale rather than courting interest that will get them more sales long term. Rather than trying to sell straight away, you should intrigue your audience by offering them a free report or other giveaway in exchange for their business cards and permission to follow up with them. Those who are interested in what you offer or the information you can provide, will give you their contact details and thereby “put their hands up” as being potential candidates for your services.
- Follow up
Once you have the contact details of your talk attendees, you should follow up with them multiple times with a structured follow up sequence. The easiest way to do this is to ask them to subscribe to your ezine.
And remember this – those who succeed through public speaking and media exposure are not necessarily any better at what they do than you are. The only difference is that they’re better at getting themselves into the limelight and then leveraging that to their advantage. Whilst you don’t have to become some media-hungry pseudo-celebrity, you can leverage all of your public speaking opportunities to build your credibility, increase your exposure and create an audience interested in what you have to say on your area of expertise.