There’s an often-quoted statistic that the fear of public speaking is right up there with the fear of death as the two events people most fear in their lives. However, as a business owner, I can guarantee you that public speaking is a phenomenal way to grow your business, so if it’s an activity that scares you, you need to take the bull by the horns and start working past that fear.
As an introvert, public speaking isn’t something that comes naturally to me, although I’m told I’m good at it. It’s been quite a learning process, and I’ve had as many failures as successes. My best learning experiences have come through the process of finding the courage to just do it and learn along the way.
If you’re a self-employed service professional, you work in a time-based economy. You have only so many hours in the day to work directly with your clients. Speaking to groups gives you the opportunity to reach out and touch and impact others who might otherwise never cross your path and for you to get them into your marketing funnel so that they can begin to get to know, like and respect you. Once they’re in your marketing funnel, and if you provide a solution that solves a problem that they have, they’ll ultimately hire you.
Here are ten steps I recommend to get you into action to use public speaking to fill your professional practice:
1. Pick 3 topics on which you can present a 20 minute – 60 minute speech. These should be topics on which you love to speak and will readily showcase your expertise to your audience. The topics also need to be ones that speak to your target market’s pain and provides a solution for a problem that they’re having.
2. For each presentation, write a 2 – 3 sentence description of that provides a brief overview of your content. To add some meat to the description, create a benefits statement for each presentation and what they’ll learn or get out of your talk. Remember, your audience will always be asking the same question, “WIIFM”, or “What’s In It For Me?”, so make your description so compelling that they think, “Hey, I’ve got to hear that!”
3. Have a professional photo made, and create a 3-6 sentence introductory bio of yourself. Many bios sound the same and are pretty boring, let your personality shine in your bio.
4. With your topics, bio, and photo in hand, you can now put together in MS Word a simple speaker one-sheet that tells a prospective association program chair everything s/he would need to know about you. If you have a list of audiences to whom you’ve spoken previously, you will want to list some of those under the heading “Satisfied Clients”, and spread 2 – 3 testimonials from other speaking gigs throughout the sheet. In order to get ideas for layouts of the one sheet, visit the National Speakers Association, www.nsapseaker.org, and view the speaker one sheets of other speakers to jumpstart your creativity.
5. Create a speaking link on your website and have the presentations you’ve outlined available on your site, as well as your speaker one sheet, and a separate link with your photo and bio. Many association program chairs will want to “check you out” online, even though you’re offering to speak to them free of charge, so give them the opportunity to read all about your speaking topics on your website.
6. Now you need to find audiences filled with your target market. To start locally, approach the program chairs of professional associations to which you already belong and see if you can get on their speaking schedule. Your local library or Chamber of Commerce may have a current list of professional associations in your area which you can also approach. Other sources for finding speaking gigs include the American Society of Association Executives, https://www.asaenet.org. On the website, click Directories on the left hand links column, and then Associations, and then select Gateway to Associations. Once you’re in the Gateway, you can look up associations by keyword or by location. A second place to locate associations is Gale’s Encyclopedia of Associations. This multi-volume encyclopedia is present in the reference section of all major libraries.
7. You (or your Virtual Assistant) will then need to call these associations and get the name and contact info of the program chair. Some program chairs will want to talk to you right away regarding your speaking topics, so be prepared to have that conversation on the fly. Being able to send them to your website to read more about the topics is also helpful. Others will want you to send information, so you’ll need to draft an introductory letter that you can snail mail or email along with your speaker one-sheet.
8. Once you’ve got a speaking engagement, ask the program chair some questions about the audience so that you can better tailor the speech to fit their needs. I learn best through hearing stories, so as I’m asking questions about the audience, I’m going through my own list of illustrative stories I’ve told to see which ones might best match my audience’s needs. Remember that your audience wants a full experience of you as well as the information that you’re providing, so be sure and inject alot of your personality and wit and humor into your speech.
9. Before your speech, determine how you want to get audience members into your marketing funnel. Do you want them to sign up for a complimentary consultation on the spot? If so, bring your calendar or a sign-up sheet. Do you want to get them on your mailing list? Give away something at the end of your presentation that is compelling enough for them to part with a business card or to write down their contact info to enter the drawing. If your goal is to get them on your email newsletter list, be sure and get their email address. If you use direct mail, you’ll want to get their physical mailing address.
10. The day of your presentation, just relax and have fun! This may be the hardest of any of the steps outlined here, but being authentic and being yourself will get you in the good graces of most of your audience, despite what you might say (or forget to say!). Think of your presentation as the beginning of a great relationship that you’re establishing, and leave your audience feeling good about themselves and about you.
Try and book 2-3 speaking engagements per month, and soon you’ll become the “go-to” expert in your industry!
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.