By Tricia Richards-Service, Principal of I Need a Speaker and Member of NAWBO Virtual
Tap your phone screen or flip open a laptop and search the terms “marketing” or “business growth.” You’ll get thousands of results pointing you toward digital marketing solutions, paid advertising and sales tactics. Those are all basic elements of many successful marketing approaches. What few people recommend is one of the most effective tactics: public speaking. Let’s talk about why.
1. Public speaking forces you to organize your thoughts.
Prior to making a presentation, you need to consider what you’d like to share. Ideally, you’ll have an introduction, three to five main body points and a conclusion. When planning your remarks, you’ll be forced to organize your thoughts in a way that’s easy to share with others.
2. Public speaking improves communication skills.
Press the “record” button on your phone before practicing your presentations. On playback, you’ll quickly discover if you’re using too much industry lingo or incorporating vague comments. Once you know where you have room to improve, you can make appropriate changes.
3. Public speaking establishes you as a subject matter expert.
For the best results, choose a niche and learn as much as you can about that particular, narrow topic. You’ll become known as the go-to person on that subject, which can potentially drive business your way
4. Public speaking allows audience members to feel your passion, enthusiasm and dedication.
Potential customers or clients can read about you or visit your website, and they’ll come away more informed. Seeing you in person adds emotion to the mix, demonstrating your passion and commitment to your industry, business and/or mission.
5. Public speaking builds self-confidence.
Really, it’s true! So many people report feeling anxious (even terrified) about public speaking, but when you know your material well and present often, you’ll experience a stronger sense of self-confidence.
6. Public speaking generates word-of-mouth referrals.
The combination of your expertise and enthusiasm will resonate with audience members, and they’re likely to tell other people in their network about you. This, in turn, will strengthen your reputation.
7. Public speaking expands your professional network.
Think about it. People love getting to know other people who share the same values or ideas. They love talking about their work or industry with others who understand it. Prepare for LinkedIn invitations in your inbox after an effective presentation. Better yet—invite the audience to follow you, and see how fast you rack up new connections.
8. Public speaking helps you better understand your customer or client base.
Allow for time after your presentations to answer questions. As people raise hands or step toward a microphone, you’ll begin learning what questions people have about your business or industry. Use these questions to help guide your communications plan. Maybe you’ll change hang tags or packaging. You may update your website. Or you’ll add a new vehicle to communicate with your customers.
Now that you know eight of the benefits of public speaking, your next question may be, “How do I get started?”
1. Choose your niche. Conduct research as necessary, and organize your thoughts.
2. Look for local, unpaid opportunities to speak. Nonprofit organizations and public libraries typically welcome speakers and will help promote your presentations. Use these smaller venues for growth, fine-tuning your remarks as you continue delivering presentations.
3. Ask for testimonials from people who have booked you.
4. Have a trusted family member or friend record part of your presentation (with permission from the group that booked you) and post it on YouTube or Vimeo. Use links to your clips when people ask for a sample of your presentation style.
5. Create a speaker sheet. This is a one-page, one-sided sheet that includes the following information: your name, your e-mail address, your phone number, your photo, a brief narrative bio, the topic(s) on which you present and perhaps a testimonial. Create a sheet that’s branded to match your company or choose one specific to your speaking career. Send this to event planners who want to learn more about you.
6. Spread the word. Now you’re ready to set your fees and start getting booked at larger venues. Tell people in your network, and consider joining a speaker directory. Remember to ask for referrals and continue collecting testimonials. Now you can confidently add “speaker” to your resume and social media profiles.
As your speaking career grows, you’ll be reinforcing your expertise and raising awareness about your business. Break a leg!
About the Author…
Tricia is a communication professional, author and speaker. In 2020, she launched I Need A Speaker, a service that easily and affordably connects speakers with audiences. After learning that 65 percent of all conference speakers are men, she built the global directory to make public speaking more diverse and amplify new voices. Tricia earned a bachelor’s degree in communication/journalism, a master’s degree in healthcare administration and a doctorate in administration/leadership. She is a two-time Fulbright grantee. Tricia resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and their two children.