How to Make the Most of Any Speaking Opportunity

Photo Credit: JohnDiew0107 on Flickr

Your talk begins long before you step on to that stage.

It starts weeks, if not months, before, though many speakers don’t realize that.

Public speaking is one of the most effective tools you can use to build your business.

Yet for many people, just the thought of getting in front of an audience is so stressful that all they focus on is the talk itself.

What in the world do I say?
What if my mind goes blank?
What if they hate me?

And on and on.

And yet – anyone can learn to be an effective speaker. I’ve coached many people through this over the years; I always love seeing their surprise at how well they could do with just a little help.

But to make speaking work for your business means you have to be more than a skilled performer.

You have to approach the talk with the strategic thinking of a marketer.

Here’s what I mean.

PRE-EVENT PHASE

Once the date is set and the contract signed, you have an opportunity that many speakers miss.

Rather than wait for the day you’re introduced to the room, connect with your audience right away.

Doing so long before your talk sets the stage, pun intended, for a successful presentation – because you’ve already engaged with the room.

When I spoke to a group of entrepreneurs in Dublin, I sent them a brief video telling them what to expect in advance. (Here’s a link to that video, if you’d like to see that example.) The organizers posted that on their website, and encouraged their attendees to check it out.

A brief video introduces you and builds excitement around your topic. THAT helps the organizers attract a bigger audience. It’s a win/win.

But I also asked questions to encourage dialogue through their social media page. When I arrived, I already knew the names, faces, businesses and challenges of several people in the room. Rather than walking into a room full of strangers, it was a more like meeting a group of friends.

That made things easier for me, of course. :)

But even better, it helped them become comfortable with me, and therefore, more open to what I had to teach.

In fact, one woman mentioned they’d never had a speaker who’d engaged with them like that before the talk, saying how much she appreciated it.

Look for ways to reach out to and connect with your audience in advance. Start a conversation on their Facebook page. Ask the hosts if they’d let you craft an email to send out to their list. Offer a hint of what’s to come that will make them want to know more. Promote it to your own list, and on your own social media as well.

The weeks leading up to your talk are fertile ground. Make use of them.

EVENT DAY

At the talk itself, find ways to enhance your value as their speaker. Create a sheet of testimonials that demonstrate what your clients love about working with you. Place that at their seats as they enter, so they can read it before the talk begins.

During the talk, offer to send them an extra tool, worksheet, report or other bonus content. Gather email addresses from those who want that, and build your list.

Make sure the talk itself provides easily digestible, high value content they can actually use. Touch their hearts, and their minds, so that they come away both inspired and educated.

Close with a call to action to seal in the learning. That can be as simple as challenging them to try a new skill, adopt a new mindset or sign up for your newsletter.

But if the event hosts are okay with it, you could also offer a way for the audience to go deeper by working with you. The key there is to sell with service and integrity.

POST-EVENT PHASE

Once the applause has ended and the lights are off, there are still ways to leverage your talk for your business.

First, be sure to follow up with key contacts you made at the event. Did you promise to send someone a resource? Do that. Did you make some meaningful connections? Send them an email or a note telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them. Did people take you up on your offer? Get that set up and follow through on what you said you’d do.

Tell YOUR list about your talk too. Share the experience on social media and through your various online channels. You might even send them a follow up video where you re-state your core premise, and thank them again for having you.

Thinking of each phase of the talk in a strategic way allows you to establish a rapport with potential prospects, strengthen the perceived value of your brand – and serve your people.

And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

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