Have you ever considered adding public speaking into your marketing mix? Many people shudder at the thought of standing up and speaking in front of an audience but giving a talk is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to promote your business; it’s a great way to help you to connect with potential customers, share your knowledge and establish your expertise. And even better, most of your competitors are not likely to be doing it!
Here are my top five tips to help you to take advantage of this marketing opportunity:
Get Good at Public Speaking
Dale Carnegie said that ‘Great speakers are not born, they’re trained.’ We don’t come out of the womb knowing how to speak well in public; like anything it is a skill that can be learned and we get better at it with practice. If you have concerns about presenting in front of an audience, do get some help and support by undertaking training, seeing a coach or attending a public speaking club such as Toastmasters International. The confidence and self-belief you will develop from improving your public speaking skills will benefit you in all areas of your life and business.
Get Yourself Booked
There are loads of businesses, non-profits and associations that are on the lookout for speakers at their events. Work out who your target market is and where they gather; then contact the relevant organisations and offer to speak at one of their events. For example, if you are a landscape gardener, you could speak to homeowners associations or gardening clubs; if your target is parents try PTAs; for small businesses try networking groups or small business expos. Ensure you are clear on the outcomes and benefits of your talk (see below), and provide the organisers with a well prepared one page overview of you and your presentation. You may even decide to run an event yourself and invite your target customers along.
Get Your Topic Right
Despite the fact that speaking is a good way to promote your business, any talk you give should not be about selling, but rather about providing value for the audience and at the same time establishing your credibility and expertise. So instead of giving a talk about all the features and benefits of your product or service, think about what would be of interest to people attending. Do some research on your audience to find out what their challenges are and what would be of most interest to them.
For example, if you’re a social media business, share tips on how to get the most out of Twitter or LinkedIn; if you sell scented candles, offer a talk on how to select the best scent for the mood you want to create; if you’re a technology expert provide an overview of the latest technology advances and how they will help improve your audience’s business processes. If you already write a blog, you will probably have lots of content that you could easily adapt into a talk.
Make sure you give your talk a sexy, attention grabbing title that gives a promise of what your audience will get if they listen to you.
Get Your Message Across
Prepare your talk well and craft it so that it is interesting and engaging. Start with a hook that will make your audience sit up and take notice of you (click here for tips on how to open your presentation). Outline what you’ll be sharing in your talk - ideally include no more than three points - elaborate on each of your points and then have a strong conclusion to wrap it all up. Make sure your content is relevant, practical and valuable to your audience.
Practice your talk so that you are able to deliver it confidently. When you arrive at the event (ensure you arrive early), chat to people and get a feel for the audience. Be authentic, confident, helpful, friendly and fabulous! When delivering your talk, relax and smile and ensure that you never go over your allotted time; it’s better to keep it short and succinct and leave them wanting more.
Whilst your talk is not a sales pitch, if it is appropriate you could offer the audience a special deal on your product or service (check with the event organiser before doing this). After your talk make sure you make it easy for people to connect with you, and capture their information where possible. Consider doing a business card prize draw, or collecting email addresses so that you can send them a handout, checklist, free report, etc., that connects with your talk. Have business cards or brochures available for people to take away, and some products for sale if people ask for them.
Get In Touch
Make sure you follow up with anyone who has expressed an interest in your product or service. If you’ve delivered great value, you may also be asked to speak at other events so consider whether they might be a good fit for you. Apart from following up with potential customers, always send a thank you note to the organiser for the opportunity to speak and ask for any feedback.
The more talks you do the more well-known you will become (and the more comfortable you will be doing it!) You could also consider filming your talks (ask for permission first) and share the footage on YouTube to help spread your message further. I am in the business of public speaking so it makes sense for me to speak at events, and I always generate further interest in my business when I deliver a talk to potential customers. I have also seen it work for many others so I strongly encourage you to think about how you too could promote your business through public speaking.
Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction.
Mel's book 'The Authority Guide to Pitching Your Business - how to make an impact and be remembered... in under a minute!' is available on Amazon. To find out more go to www.melsherwood.com or follow Mel on Twitter @MelSherwood_