Public speaking is a great way to connect with your current and future customers. Present your ideas at a public or a private venue. Presenting to a targeted audience is an accelerated way to stimulate business. Sure, speaking to groups of people can be a frightening prospect, but you do want to increase sales, don’t you? Why do so many people have this fright, do you suppose? Perhaps, if the audience doesn’t like what you have to say they’ll call the police in and have you taken off to jail for disturbing the peace? Just kidding, it’s not too likely that will ever happen. So, what is it? Maybe it’s an imposter syndrome fear? A fear that the audience will discover one is not as smart as one might pretend to be? No! They already know that. Then what is it?
I believe many are afraid of presenting because of low self-esteem. Let’s not confuse brash egotism with quality self-esteem. When you feel good about yourself you are willing to take a risk and be vulnerable. Yes, I said vulnerable! This is when a perceived weakness can become a real strength. Think back and visualize in your mind a presenter, one at which you attended their live presentation. Now that you have the presentation in your mind, ask yourself, “How real were they?” Your answer will most likely be: “They were very real. I felt like they were speaking directly to me.” This is because they allowed their self to be vulnerable. You thought they were there for you actually as your guide or mentor.
There are three basic ways to use public speaking to market your products and services:
- Speaking to community and service clubs.
- Holding information specific seminars.
- Doing demonstrations; out in public and in-home party style.
First, we’ll look at speaking to your community organizations. This idea is great when you primarily market to your local community, otherwise you’ll be doing quite a lot of traveling. Here’s an easy way to start: Prepare a 25-minute presentation about the value your industry provides for consumers. Make it non-commercial and non-specific to your product or service. Do this, and you’ll receive acceptance.
Your speech will be the most effective if you have an opening grabber to break the preoccupation barrier that most people have. Try something humorous about your business or in your industry. Another grabber can be controversy, but be cautious. Develop a transition to the body and then cover only three to four key points. Keep the presentation body fun, informative and positive. Next, summarize and have a call to action. This is the suggestion for your audience to stop by your place of business to see, hear or learn more. Conclude with a quotation or a short meaningful story. Just relax you’ll be a hit.
Book a Public Speaking Engagement
Contact your chamber of commerce for a list of community organizations. Contact all of the groups on the chamber list. Offer to speak at their meeting. You’ll be surprised at how many will accept your offer. Don’t try to sell the audience anything at their meeting except yourself. Be a giver a giver of knowledge and business will come your way. Remember to send out news releases to the local media every time you speak. While you’re out speaking, look for an organization to join and get involved. Being active in your community is an excellent way to show you’re a community partner and to get noticed.
The second way to use public speaking is to hold seminars. Check your newspaper, usually the Sunday paper is best. Look for the ads advertising free seminars—you should find one or two. The common seminars you’ll notice are for Wills, Trust & Estate Planning, Real Estate, Health and Fitness, and a variety of other offerings. The plan is to get the prospects in the door. You do this by providing them with a small amount of dynamite information (useful, of course). Then, at the end, offer your products and services for sale or lease.
Record your seminars, and when you deliver what you consider to be a great one make, it into a “for sale” product or use it as an incentive product…most likely downloadable content and products from your Website will work out best.
Elements to Successful Public Seminars
Advertise your seminar with the local media. Sell people on attending the seminar, make truthful promises of value and benefits for all who attend, let them know what’s in it for them. Remember that the attendees are giving of time and energy to get there. Be sure to have some helpers there to take your new customers’ money, credit cards, etc. If you are not great at closing the sale, consider partnering with a professional sales person to increase the volume of sales.
The seminar can be held at your place of business or a rented location such as a hotel/motel conference room, park, school, or anything you can think of—be innovative. Wherever it is, make it comfortable for about an hour stay 45 minutes for the information, 10 minutes for your sales presentation and the five minutes just because.
The third way to promote your business through public speaking is through the demonstration method. You can do this in public gathering places like fairs and carnivals, at trade shows and in a private home setting. Demonstrations in public can be as brief as five minutes or up to 15 minutes. Any longer than 15 minutes, you’ll have people stop by and move on. At these public demonstrations you’ll need to be prepared to answer questions and possibly sell your products. You can probably partner with another person or group to help you do those tasks.
In-home public speaking demonstrations can be effective. I remember growing up and going out with my mother when she gave consumer product parties at people’s homes. It seemed like every year my mother would switch to a new company. Take my advise stick to one thing and you’ll surely make lots of money it’s advice nobody gave my mother or advice she never took. Companies like Tupperware are synonymous with this method and it works!
Personal Publicity through Public Speaking
Personal publicity will help you to become more secure and confident. People that appear to be of value are the ones companies seek to become integral with their organization. Our economy is dynamic and ever changing. Companies can no longer afford to keep on the deadwood that in an era gone by was possible. Make a commitment to yourself here and now to be a person of value. This means you’ll have to bring more value to your workplace. Also, you can more easily find new employment for yourself if necessary.
Many American companies have gone through excruciating change and downsizing. They are looking to their star performers to keep the business afloat. These stars came to the attention of management by intelligently and subtly publicizing their accomplishments and heroic efforts throughout their company and industry. You too, can do this. Yes I understand that it’s not your way the problem is that “your way” may create a one-way ticket to oblivion. Many people need someone to give them permission to do something that their parents once told them was not “our way.” I hereby give you permission to promote yourself to the world!
As a colleague, Mark Victor Hanson, coauthor of the “Chicken Soup” books, has often told me, “Let your inner knower tell you what to do.” Your inner knower can help you to see your true value to the economy in which you participate. Let go of your negative “stuff” on self-promotion and move on to fulfill your potential!
Listed below are three typical reasons professionals and business leaders are hesitant to self-promote. Do these ring true for you?
- Feel it’s too self-important, pompous, pontifical, pretentious, stuffy, grandiose, ostentatious or stuffy.
- Not in keeping with the professional image they want to project.
- Believe promotion costs more then the value they receive.
Truly, the only restraint that keeps you from having the public image and stature that many enjoy is the conversation you have with yourself about the additional possibilities for your life. Dislodge those old tapes in your head that have been immobilizing your efforts to get ahead. Launch them right out of your consciousness.
Ways To Get People To Notice You
- Promote free booklets/reports on ideas and information related to your business or service.
- Author a book. You become an instant expert.
- Do your own radio show, perhaps a Saturday or Sunday morning public information type.
- Publish a printed or electronic newsletter.
- Stay in touch with clients and prospects by mailing them articles you clipped.
- Become an expert resource for local and national media reporters.
- Welcome new people to your town.
- News releases are an inexpensive way to get your name in print; always include a photo.
- Write a weekly or monthly newspaper or magazine column.
- Congratulate people on promotions you read about in the local paper and in trade pubs.
- Give great public speaking experiences to others.
- Public seminars sponsored by your company or another company with which you partner.
- Word-of-mouth happy clients and happy employees talk!
- Host power breakfasts for local business leaders.
- Get on, or even better, host radio and/or TV talk shows.
Crashing Past Gatekeepers of the Media To Get Your Foot In The Door
The various kinds of traditional and social media exposure can make the difference in your success in gaining speaking opportunities and/or help you to fill the seats of your public events. While social media is about…showing up regularly…traditional media takes quite a bit more work.
- Controversy sells in all forms of the media. Media is drawn to it like insects to a night light.
- Relevance to a current event is important. Make your story connect to what is happening now.
- Hope, it does not sell as well as controversy, but it does sell. The media is looking for ways to show that progress is being made in solving today’s social problems.
- Simplification of life, for most, life has become too complex. Show how people can save time, improve the quality of their lives, find enjoyment and fulfillment, and generally be happier.
- Overcoming Adversity is a regular media winner. America has always cheered for the underdog. Show how you have done it and become a media darling.
Partnering with the media can be your secret weapon if used well. Develop relationships with as many local and national reporters and editors as possible. The more you can do to make their life easier the better the chances you’ll get coverage.
To Better Connect with the Media, Make a Favorable Impression
- Take the Eight “Cs” approach: Be Concise, Candid, Correct, Conversational, Clear, Compassionate, Controversial, and Calm!
- Use the name of your company or product rather than saying, “The widget or The Company.”
- Give your main point first, in a concise, positive, and complete sentence.
- Remember that the best defense is a good offence.
- Be honest.
- Relax and smile.
- Make a public interest viewpoint.
- Become an “industry” source.
- Be as prepared and knowledgeable as possible.
- Watch or listen to the show or read the publication beforehand.
- Radiate confidence and energy. Energy plus Enthusiasm equals Excitement!
- If you really do not know, say “I don’t have the answer now” . . . and explain rather than, “I don’t know,” or “No comment.”
- Keep your cool.
- Believe to the core of your being, that you have something of value to offer their audience.
Things You Will Want to Avoid
- Do not repeat negative or “Loaded” words.
- Do not say anything “off the record” because there is no such thing in today’s media.
- Do not make exaggerated claims or predictions.
- Do not lie, mislead, or try to bluff because it will come back and bite you in the rear.
- Do not discuss your personal finances.
- Do not lose your temper. If you do, the host will make a monkey of you. I once saw Ted Turner lose his temper on Donahue and Phil made Ted look like a . . . Well, you know.
- Do not wear checks, plaids, stripes, or large prints before a camera because you will look terrible.
- Do not look for the “on camera” red light. Instead, talk directly to the reporter or interviewer.
- Do not nod affirmatively to a question with which you disagree. Instead clearly show that you are not in agreement with the interviewer or other guest.
- Do not be defensive.
- Do not use jargon that few will understand. Rather than appearing bright, you will appear smug or arrogant.
- Do not leave your humor in the waiting room. Humor is one of the best ways to win over the audience.
- Do not try to be someone you aren’t. Your insincerity will show through like a red flag.
- Do not forget to say “Thank you” to the show’s host.
If You Want to be Asked Back
- If you show up in person, DRESS TO IMPRESS.
- Be prepared.
- Always be in time for the interview.
- Your materials should be up-to-date.
- Smile before, during, and after the interview, even if you are not in-studio.
- Arrive early so you don’t appear rushed, but not so early that you’re in the way.
- Listen intently to the host.
- Answer question asked, even if you do move a little off their subject.
- Answer to the point and be concise.
- Answer with enthusiasm.
- Do not answer a question with a question, a simple yes or no, or “yup.”
- If you’re unfamiliar with a question, simply say so.
- If you don’t clearly hear the question, ask them to please repeat it.
- Call the host by name and thank them briefly on air.
- Send a postproduction thank you note to the host and producer.
Public speaking is an awesome way to grow your business. You have just discovered the tools to get to the media. If you made the commitment I asked for earlier all that is left is to go into action. Don’t get derailed moving from the idea phase into action. Your own perception of your worthiness is what will block or empower you into action. If you didn’t make the commitment, what can I say, but good luck? It is how you say it and how you do it. Share your ideas in public and gain increased stature for yourself and your business. It is a fun way to boost your business. Learn how to sell your speak services to trade associations and professional societies
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.