The speaker’s circuit: are you cut out for it?

Clients frequently ask for help finding and securing speaking opportunities.  Before moving forward, it is worthwhile to ask a few questions:

  • Why do you want to speak before a particular group? Some people think speaking engagements are a quick way to broadcast the company’s message while others expect it to augment other public relations tactics, such as thought leadership articles, profiles and Q&A pieces. Before tackling a speaking opportunity, be clear about your goals.
  • What is your experience? Managing or owning a company gives you expertise on staffing, sales and budgeting, but not necessarily the skills it takes to offer an entertaining and compelling presentation for 30-minutes or more. This requires preparation and practice. Just like many people can tell a funny joke at a party, very few have the chops to be a stand up comic. If you do have strong speaking experience, be sure to provide a video of yourself presenting so that conference organizers can review it and make a knowledgable selection.
  • Who is the audience and what are their challenges? Once you identify the point of pain, you can help your audience solve their challenges. This means they will spend less time fumbling with their iPhone and more time focused on you. It doesn’t matter what you wear, how many slides you offer or how frequently you gesture. What matters is being able to say, “I know you are struggling with X, Y and Z and I have solutions.”
  • What will you speak about? Presenting in front of a convention, luncheon meeting or trade show gathering is a wonderful opportunity. This is a chance to be personal with your story and transparent. If you had a problem and found a solution, share that news. Listeners will identify and empathize with you. Information about your cool new product or service can be covered in the leave behind. If you develop trust with the audience, they will care about your product too.

Have you tackled speaking engagements? When were you most successful?

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