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|Use Public Speaking to Boost Your Business
By Victoria Munro
Public speaking can be an excellent form of free PR and an effective marketing tool. Speaking in front of groups gives you exposure to potential clients and enhances your credibility as an expert in your field—and people like to buy from experts. Below are some tips to help you step out and use speaking to grow your business.
Identify your ideal audience. Research professional associations and industry meetings your target clients are likely to attend. Service clubs are often looking for speakers, and their members might be good clients for you. Get names of program chair people and call to ask if you can speak to their group.
Make your message meaningful. Talk about what you know—topics you’re passionate about. Provide valuable information that will really help your audience. Perhaps pinpoint your target clients’ three biggest problems and write a speech about how to solve each of them. Aim to give practical tips—preferably ones they can implement right away. Don’t use your talk to give a sales pitch for your services or products.
Be crystal clear. Know what you plan to say. Start with a simple outline based on your main points—ideally, no more than three. This makes it easy for your audience (and you) to remember. State your points at the beginning, repeat them throughout your presentation and use them to recap at the end.
Keep their attention. Make your talk interesting and memorable. Illustrate each of your points with examples and stories your listeners can relate to. Statistics can be powerful to back up what you say, but keep them relevant and don’t bore your audience with too many.
Practice your presentation. Become so familiar with your material that you don’t need to rely on notes and can step away from the podium. Be natural and speak from your heart. Make eye contact with several members of the audience. Never read your speech. Be sure to stay within the time limit set by your host.
Look the part. Be well groomed and appropriately dressed for your audience. Ideally, dress like but slightly more formally than your audience.
Have helpful handouts your audience can take away listing the main points of your presentation. Include space for them to write notes and your contact information. Proof your handout carefully, and have someone else look it over to ensure there are no typos and that it represents you well.
Arrive early and become familiar with the room, the PA system, and meet and mingle as people arrive. If you’re using a projector, give time for set up and testing.
Be prepared for questions. If you want your audience to interrupt you with questions, tell them. If you plan a question-and-answer time at the end, let them know this at the beginning and suggest that they make notes of questions to ask later. Then be sure to allow enough time for questions.
Fine-tune your speaking skills: read books, take a course, join Toastmasters International or hire a speech coach. Start with small low-risk groups.
A major marketing campaign may not be in your budget, but speaking is a great way to get your message out to prospective clients. It will take some of your time and energy, but will set you apart as an authority in your field and it’s free!
About the Author: Victoria Munro is co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly, a company dedicated to creating success for small-business owners through creatively designed programs and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at: LLCwww.Make-it-Fly.com, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.
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