If you’re looking for more ways to brand yourself as an expert in 2012, consider adding public speaking to your resume. Conferences, trade shows, adult education and local universities offer ample opportunity for you to flex your speaking skills and introduce you to potential customers.
Benefits of Public Speaking
Speakers in a given industry are sought after for their knowledge. No matter what your expertise, there’s an audience that is clamoring for what you know. You can help people with how-to tips, talk about industry trends or introduce your own industry ideas to an audience as a way to brand yourself and your company.
Very often, after giving a presentation, speakers are approached by audience members. This may or may not lead to a new client, but it’s a great way to expand your contacts and build relationships.
If you have written a book or two, public speaking is also a great way to promote your books. You can sell them to attendees after your presentation, or set up a book signing in conjunction with your speech.
After you have experience under your belt as a speaker, and after your presentations have proven successful, you may start earning money from your speaking engagements! Many entrepreneurs start out simply trying to drum up new business, and end up making more money from speaking than from their businesses themselves.
How to Get Started
If speech class in college left you with cold feet, it can be advantageous to join a group like Toastmasters that will arm you with the skills you need to give professional presentations and smooth delivery.
Start by offering your services at local industry events. Meetup.com is a great place to find small industry groups or simply groups of small business owners you can offer your presentation skills to. As you build up confidence and experience, reach out to your community college’s adult education department to see if there is any interest in what you want to speak on. Remember that you should pitch your topic as something your audience wants to learn, rather than pitching your product or service.
On your website, keep a list of your speaking engagements. This will help you secure more opportunities for larger audiences.
Expand Your Reach
Research larger industry conferences that you might want to participate in nationwide. Typically, there is a call for speakers 8-12 months before the event, so prepare your pitch early and apply to be a speaker. You may be required to pay your own travel expenses, or the event may cover your hotel and event pass. Make sure it’s worth it to spend the money to get there! Some conferences cost several thousand dollars to get in, so if it’s a conference you’d love to attend but can’t afford to otherwise, speaking might be a great barter to get access to the information and contacts you’ll meet there.
Get listed on the National Speakers’ Bureau so that anyone looking for a speaker in your field can find you. This list is vetted, so many organizers go here to find qualified presenters.
Keep to the Plan
Public speaking can be a great addition to your business and marketing plan, but before you get caught up in the glory of being a speaker, remember what your goals were to begin with. Are you getting new contacts or leads? Are you selling your books or products? If you’re spending more than you’re taking in as a result of speaking, reconsider whether it’s the best strategy for your business. And remember that it can take years to be sought after as a well-known speaker, so if that’s your goal, it will take a lot of work!
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Mashable, Small Business Trends, FutureSimple, BizLaunch and Lead411. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.
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