The single most effective business development strategy for entrepreneurs is public speaking. As a marketing strategist for over 22 years, the small businesses I’ve seen grow the fastest are the ones where the leadership is speaking to groups of ideal prospective clients, colleagues, and other professionals who serve the same market. This is how I started and I have Toastmasters International to thank for the development of my skills in public speaking. More on that later. Even with the popularity of social media marketing, public speaking still is my number one marketing strategy. Social media can amplify the results you get with public speaking. A robust marketing plan includes strategies that build relationships.
When you are the featured speaker at a meeting, conference or corporate event, you give the audience members the opportunity to connect with you and start a relationship.
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There are three main reasons public speaking is such a powerful marketing tool.
Speakers Have Instant Authority
First, when you present to a group of individuals you are automatically seen as an authority. You are given instant credibility because you’re on stage and have obviously been endorsed by the person/organization who invited you there. You know the old adage, “People buy from people they know, like and trust.” Thus, being a featured speaker builds that instant credibility because they can get to know you and determine if they like and trust you as you speak. If they like what you say, how you present and get value from your content, landing sales is very easy.
Exposure To Many Saves Time
Ultimately, getting sales comes down to numbers of targeted prospects. When yo speak to a group of people who are in need of your products/services, you are concentrating your efforts. Remember, you could be in front of a large audience, but if they are not targeted (people who are interested in what you have to offer), then your efforts may not be as productive. Therefore, it is important when choosing events to speak at that the audience is a match – meaning they are hungry for the information and solutions you have.
Leads To Other Opportunities
Invariably when I speak, I get new clients, offers to speak at other events, and/or colleagues who want to collaborate or send their clients. As Woody Allen says “80% of success is showing up.” One tip to ensuring this happens, is to play the role of host (when you’re not on stage). Go around the room, and introduce yourself to people. More importantly, find out about them. Ask them what brought them to the event today, what they are most excited to receive from the event, and what they do. I call this preparing the soil. Where you’re letting them know they are important and you are interested because you’ve taken the time to learn about them. Eventually, they will ask you questions, but until they do, keep asking them questions. Do this with as many people in the room that you can. If you can do this prior to getting on stage, you will feel like you are speaking to a group of friends. If not, just know they will be more predisposed to connecting after you speak.
Where To Learn How To Speak To Groups
You may be excited by the possibilities of speaking to groups and terrified about it at the same time. That is completely understandable as they say, public speaking is one of the most common fears. If you are in that camp, I can relate. In my early 20’s I was encouraged to join Toastmasters International. It was through encouragement and coaching by members that I grew past my fears to absolutely love and enjoy speaking from stage. Toastmasters has local chapters that usually meet weekly and follow a comprehensive and engaging format that develops members into adept public speakers. Many go on to win awards and have exceptional professional speaking careers.
I am so very honored to be speaking at the District 5 Leadership And Communication Experience (LACE) Fall Conference.