I consider public speaking to fall into two categories – those who do public speaking as their primary business, as in motivational speakers and trainers, and corporate employees who speak about their area of expertise. Both speakers need to and can get new clients and referrals from their speaking engagements.
In fact, public speaking is one of the best ways to get new clients. Here’s why: public speaking positions you as the expert and everyone in the room gets to meet, know, and trust you. You have an incredible opportunity to build relationships with all the attendees and wow them with the value you can provide to them. And “to them” is the KEY thing. It’s not about you – it’s all about them and the value they get. The more value you provide, the more trust you build.
In this article, I am focusing on how to get leads from a speaking engagement for any type of speaker. Here are 3 steps to successfully get new clients from public speaking: 1. Know your audience 2. Deliver valuable content that they want 3. Have a structure for new clients to easily do business with you
There are a variety of ways to do each of the 3 steps. Here is bite-size summary of each:
Know Your Audience
Depending on the type of speaking engagement, you can do a few things to really understand what your audience wants. By accomplishing this important step, you can successfully accomplish step 2. If you are invited to speak to a group and in your excitement of accepting, you fail to find out why you've been asked to speak, go back and ask. Ask about the audience and what sort of outcome is wanted. Ask: Why do they want the topic and what are their expectations?
I had a coaching client who was invited to speak to some high school students about going to college. When I asked her questions about the students, such as, what grade are they in and anything in particular about them and the school, she didn't know. I suggested that she call back and find out about the students, to get as much information as she could.
She found out that this was a school of mostly low income students who never went to college in general. Essentially, the students were struggling to live. She ended up setting up a counseling program with the school for the students. The speaking engagement was completely scratched at least for the time being and the real needs of the students were being addressed.
In some cases, what your audience wants is pretty clear. The whole point is for you to be clear as possible about what they want. That is your starting point, your step one so that step two will be a cakewalk.
Deliver Valuable Content
A big don’t: never try to sell in your presentation. Who likes feeling like they are being sold to? Your mission in getting new business is always to deliver valuable content. Your speaking engagement is your opportunity to shine a light on your valuable expertise and how it can help people. It really isn't about you. It’s about the difference you can make for people.
There are several ways to deliver valuable content:
1. Share stories to illustrate your point, but be careful not to tell how your product or service helped someone (unless you are doing a product demonstration which is something completely different). Take YOU out of it. In my case, I share stories about the anxiety that experienced and inexperienced speakers have and various ways that they can overcome that anxiety. I give them the actual tips and resources to do so. The exception to this is to share how your tips helped someone. You can share a real life example of how someone used your suggestion/teaching and what they said the outcome was for them. Just be careful to ensure that you are focused on the benefit achieved.
2. Depending on your topic, you can demonstrate your expertise and how to help people. If you are social media expert, it’s easy. You have lots of information you can share that will help people and when you do a good job, you are likely to be hired and get referrals.
3. Attorneys, accountants, architects, doctors, bankers and consultants have a tremendous opportunity to share their expertise so that people leave with practical information that they can use immediately to help them with their goals. The more value you provide for people, they more likely they are to think/say, “I need this person to really get to where I want to go on this topic.”
The more value you deliver, the more trust you build, positioning yourself as the expert along the way.
Structure for New Clients to Easily do Business with You
Structures help us to fulfill on all sorts of things. A road/freeway helps us get to our destination. It makes sense then, that to get new business, we need structure to facilitate that process. Structure is the basis of fulfillment. Without structure, things fall apart. In getting business from speaking, you need structure to help people do business with you.
Very simply you’ll need a plan, a form and inclusion of that structure into your presentation. Here’s an example:
- At the beginning and end of your presentation, you want to let your audience know your objectives in speaking with them. There are two categories of objectives, the objective for you and the objective for them. The more transparent you are about it, the more trust you build. If there’s any hint of manipulation or hiding something, you destroy any trust you might have had.
- In your introduction, you should state your objectives by stating what you want them to get out of the presentation or what you are going to cover. And, let them know if you have any personal objectives for you, but you state in a way that is a benefit for them.
- Here’s an example intro: “My objective today is that you leave knowing keys ways to shelter your money and avoid unneeded taxes – that you learn tips that you can put to use immediately. I also have an evaluation form at the end and on that form I offer a free 15 minute consultation. So, if you like what you hear today (which I intend you will), and you would like some focused attention on your situation, let me know by completing the form. I’ll also let you know at the end about my financial savings program special offer just for attending today.”
- Basically, in the above introduction, you have started with the end in mind. You have prepared the audience with what to expect – value and more value and you are being completely up front about it. Breaking it down, you are letting them know what you are intending for them to get (value), how they can get more value (free 15 min consult) and a special offer (more value). People respect this honesty because you are letting them in on what’s going on, what’s expected. There are no surprises.
- You can add a little incentive and provide a give-away/prize for everyone who turns in an evaluation form. Tell them you’ll pick one (or more) and the winner will receive your prize (Starbuck’s gift card, a book, or whatever you want). People love the chance to win stuff! I learned this little technique from attending lunch at learns at Microsoft in Houston. It works great, everyone likes it, and almost everyone participates.
- Take the introduction example above and fit it to your particular type of speaking engagement. If you want to sell books, then let people know you’ll have a book signing at the end of your presentation and offer your book at a discount. Let them know at the beginning of your introduction. Always give your audience a special offer if they buy today. You can tell them up front about the special pricing, but at the beginning let them know you’ll be letting them know about your special offer at the end.
- Prepare your materials and your setup for the end. Have your forms ready and how you will distribute them. Have an assistant to help you with the logistics to make things go smoothly. You are going to be focused on your presentation and it’s great to have an assistant handle the details. I like to have my evaluation form already distributed to everyone and have it be a different color like yellow.
When you offer a free 15 minute consultation, it does a couple of things. It gives those in the audience who are most interested a way to connect with you again with the opportunity and chance to hire you. Plus, it provides those who are most interested more value. When you set up the free consult with them, give them lots of value and don't worry if it goes over 15 minutes. Ask them at the end of your consult if they would be interested in your services. In many cases, you won't even have to because they will be asking you about your services. I have seen this happen time and time again and experienced it myself.
Hope this is helpful to you. Your comments are always appreciated. What have you done in getting business from speaking engagements that’s worked well for you and not worked? Love to get your feedback.
There’s good and then there’s great. What makes the difference when it comes to public speaking? First, consider what makes a bad speech: no preparation, winging it, rambling, no real point or too many points, disconnected from the audience, lack of confidence, being overconfident, being boring, no volume, monotone, reading slides, lack of passion or drive about the topic, slouching and no knowledge of what the audience wants.
So, if all of these things are what make a bad speech, you would think that you need to have the opposite for at least a good speech. True. A good speech is one that has been prepared, practiced, the point(s) are clear, the audience is engaged, the speaker is confident and excited/passionate about the topic, you can hear them/they have volume and their tone is anything but monotone, and what the audience wants is clearly understood.
Now that we have clarified the characteristics of bad and good – how do you make it great? Nick Morgan, a contributor to Forbes.com and someone who is passionate about communications, especially public speaking, told of an experience where he had to write a speech for the then Governor of Virginia, Chuck Robb. The speech had to show that the Governor was in control of a situation when four death-row inmates had escaped from prison. It took Nick 12 drafts of the speech before his supervisor was even close to happy with it. From this experience, Nick came up with “5 Secrets of Success” for great speeches:
1. Great Speeches are primarily emotional, not logical
2. Small shifts in tone make an enormous difference to the audience, so sweat the details
3. A great speech has a clear voice speaking throughout
4. A great speech conveys one idea only, though it can have lots of supporting points
5. A great speech answers a great need
I believe that Nick's 5 points are right on for delivering a great speech. Consequently, I went searching for great speeches to see if 1) they had these 5 characteristics and 2) they had any other notable values.
Here are my personal favorite top 5 great speeches of all time:
1. Steve Jobs’ commencement speech to the 2005 Stanford University graduating class. From his eye opening introduction where he states, “I never graduated from college” to his statement of what he’s going to talk about “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots….,” Jobs has captivated his audience. His point is clear “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish,” and each story illustrates this point. He is not overly passionate or excited. He is after all, Steve Jobs, and he has come to deliver an important message by authentically and powerfully sharing about his life. To watch Steve Jobs’ speech, click HERE.
2. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., was a long speech. Yet, it was incredibly powerful. As you listen, you get goose bumps and get swept up in the emotion. It’s full of poignant visuals, inspiring and uplifting you as you listen. King speaks loudly, emotionally, emphatically, passionately. His speech is delivered in total contrast to Jobs, yet both captivate. To listen to Martin Luther King’s speech, click HERE.
3. John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech in 1961 where he ended with “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” His pace is deliberate, emphatic, and passionate as well, Kennedy style. I love his next statement, “My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” To listen to JFK’s speech, click HERE.
4. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address of 1863, although only about 3 minutes long, has remained as powerful now as it was then. Lincoln did more than just dedicate a cemetery to the fallen soldiers; he captured the entire mood of the nation and inspired them to take a stand for liberty and equality. To read Lincoln’s speech and hear Johnny Cash deliver it, click HERE.
5. Susan B. Anthony delivered a speech after she was arrested, tried and fined $100 for voting in the presidential election in 1872. As you read this short and powerful speech, you can hear the emotion and passion. Susan reportedly never paid the fine and she toured the country speaking on women’s right to vote, although it wasn’t until 1920 that women officially won that right in the U.S. Click HERE to read Susan’s short and compelling speech.
In each of these cases and for all great speeches, a need is addressed. The stronger the need, the more compelling the speech can be. One key is to paint the picture of the need first, identify the problem, the pain, the wrong that must be solved and why. Although, as in Steve Jobs’ speech, you can say up front what the speech is about and powerfully illustrate your main point with stories.
Great speeches are carefully prepared, practiced, and are delivered with emotion. The speaker feels what it is that they want to convey. If you want to inspire, you must be inspired. Whatever you want to cause with your audience, you must be it first. You will never inspire anyone if you are not inspired.
And finally, and most importantly, enjoy/believe in what you are doing. The way to connect with your audience and deliver a great speech is to enjoy the experience, enjoy being on the stage, enjoy being at the center, enjoy delivering your message and/or believe strongly in the importance of your message. Your enjoyment and belief will be transferred to the audience. Enjoying and believing what you are doing is authentic, compelling and the cornerstone of confidence, which is essential in delivering a great speech. Good luck!
1. PowerPoint - What to avoid and how to use it powerfully
Too many words - too many slides. If you have 45 minutes, don't have 80 slides. Allow about 2 minutes per slide - so for 45 minutes - have 20 slides. Worse yet, don't cram a lot of data on a slide or have a video that's just a PowerPoint slide show that goes so fast, people can't read the information. Avoid using PowerPoint altogether if possible. But, if you have to use it, use graphics and photos for each slide and make them as entertaining as possible. PowerPoint should be used to make points powerfully - remember that and ask yourself these questions:
a) What is the point of this slide? Zero in on that point.b) What is the most powerful photo or graphic I could have that would powerfully make my point?
2. Not having an objective for your presentation
Don't just jump into your presentation. State your objective(s) in your introduction. What do you want people to gain from your talk? This helps to set expectations and creates value for people. When preparing your presentation, your first task is to write down what the objectives are for your presentation. When preparing your presentation, answer these questions:
a) What do you want people to gain from your talk?
b) Will you have a call to action?
With clear objectives, you will find that preparing your presentation will be a lot easier, on point and you will be more powerful and confident. People who ramble usually do not know their objectives.
3. Don't ramble
Ramblers have not adequately prepared. Have you ever been to a presentation where the speaker has gone way over their allotted time? Unless you are completely mesmerized by their presentation, you will probably leave or be thinking about leaving while they are still talking. The worst thing is, you and everyone else has stopped listening and are becoming increasingly agitated. To avoid rambling, a little preparation will go a long way. Create your objective, 3 main points, sub points, your introduction and close. You can prepare a talk in 2 hours or less following this method. I wrote an eBook on how to do this. Grab a copy here for only $7.
4. Be present to what's going on
If you sense that the audience needs a break, take a break. Tune in to what is going on with the audience by acknowledging it. Tuning in will connect you with them and will engage the audience.
5. Don't pace back and forth
Deal with nervousness before you present. Pacing back and forth to work off nervousness is a distraction. If you have a case of nerves, anxiety, fear, panic whatever before you speak, you will find that you can reduce 75% of your anxiety by preparing and practicing. Before your talk, you could also practice deep breathing with loud sighs, to produce the "good feeling" hormone, oxytocin. There are other techniques to help you relax before a presentation, including exercise, yoga, meditation (or listen to a meditation CD), visualization (visualize everything going well), and affirmations (affirm that you will provide tremendous value to everyone and that you will do well). Plus, my personal favorite, take the focus off of you and focus on the value that you will be providing for people. Get into action and quit focusing on all of the sabotaging self-worry talk - that shift in itself is powerful. These techniques will work for the majority of people - but, if they don't, consider hypnosis to relieve any deep-seated triggers that you may have that cause panic.