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How to Get Business from Speaking

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How to Get Business from Speaking

I consider public speaking to fall into two categories – those who do public speaking as their primary business, as in motivational speakers and trainers, and employees who speak about their area of expertise. Both speakers need to and can get new clients and referrals from their speaking engagements.

In fact, public speaking is one of the best ways to get new clients. Here’s why: public speaking positions you as the expert and everyone in the room gets to meet, know, and trust you. You have an incredible opportunity to build relationships with all the attendees and wow them with the value you can provide to them. And “to them” is the KEY thing. It’s not about you – it’s all about them and the value they get. The more value you provide, the more trust you build.

In this article, I am focusing on how to get leads from a speaking engagement for any type of speaker. Here are 3 steps to successfully get new clients from public speaking:

1. Know your audience
2. Deliver valuable content that they want
3. Have a structure for new clients to easily do business with you

There are a variety of ways to do each of the 3 steps. Here is bite-size summary of each:

Know Your Audience

Depending on the type of speaking engagement, you can do a few things to really understand what your audience wants. By accomplishing this important step, you can successfully accomplish step 2. If you are invited to speak to a group and in your excitement of accepting, you fail to find out why you’ve been asked to speak, go back and ask. Ask about the audience and what sort of outcome is wanted. Ask: Why do they want the topic and what are their expectations?

I had a coaching client who was invited to speak to some high school students about going to college. When I asked her questions about the students, such as, what grade are they in and anything in particular about them and the school, she didn’t know. I suggested that she call back and find out about the students, to get as much information as she could.

She found out that this was a school of mostly low income students who never went to college in general. Essentially, the students were struggling to live. She ended up setting up a counseling program with the school for the students. The speaking engagement was completely scratched at least for the time being and the real needs of the students were being addressed.

In some cases, what your audience wants is pretty clear. The whole point is for you to be clear as possible about what they want. That is your starting point, your step one so that step two will be a cakewalk.

Deliver Valuable Content

A big don’t: never try to sell in your presentation. Who likes feeling like they are being sold to? Your mission in getting new business is always to deliver valuable content. Your speaking engagement is your opportunity to shine a light on your valuable expertise and how it can help people. It really isn’t about you. It’s about the difference you can make for people.

There are several ways to deliver valuable content:

1. Share stories to illustrate your point, but be careful not to tell how your product or service helped someone (unless you are doing a product demonstration which is something completely different). Take YOU out of it. In my case, I share stories about the anxiety that experienced and inexperienced speakers have and various ways that they can overcome that anxiety. I give them the actual tips and resources to do so. The exception to this is to share how your tips helped someone. You can share a real life example of how someone used your suggestion/teaching and what they said the outcome was for them. Just be careful to ensure that you are focused on the benefit achieved.

2. Depending on your topic, you can demonstrate your expertise and how to help people. If you are social media expert, it’s easy. You have lots of information you can share that will help people and when you do a good job, you are likely to be hired and get referrals.

3. Attorneys, accountants, architects, doctors, bankers, and consultants have a tremendous opportunity to share their expertise so that people leave with practical information that they can use immediately to help them with their goals. The more value you provide for people, they more likely they are to think/say, “I need this person to really get to where I want to go on this topic.”

The more value you deliver, the more trust you build, positioning yourself as the expert along the way.

Provide a Structure to Easily do Business with You

Structures help us to fulfill on all sorts of things. A road/freeway helps us get to our destination. It makes sense then, that to get new business, we need structure to facilitate that process. Structure is the basis of fulfillment. Without structure, things fall apart. In getting business from speaking, you need structure to help people do business with you.

Very simply, you’ll need a plan, a form and inclusion of that structure into your presentation. Here’s an example:

At the beginning and end of your presentation, you want to let your audience know your objectives in speaking with them. There are two categories of objectives, the objective for you and the objective for them. The more transparent you are about it, the more trust you build. If there’s any hint of manipulation or hiding something, you destroy any trust you might have had.

In your introduction, you should state your objectives by stating what you want them to get out of the presentation or what you are going to cover. And, let them know if you have any personal objectives for you, but you state in a way that is a benefit for them.

Here’s an example intro: “My objective today is that you leave knowing keys ways to shelter your money and avoid unneeded taxes – that you learn tips that you can put to use immediately. I also have a feedback form at the end and on that form I offer a free (or discounted) consultation. So, if you like what you hear today (which I intend you will), and you would like some focused attention on your situation, let me know by completing the form. I’ll also let you know at the end about my financial savings program special offer just for attending today.”

Basically, in the above introduction, you have started with the end in mind. You have prepared the audience with what to expect – value and more value and you are being completely up front about it. Breaking it down, you are letting them know what you are intending for them to get (value), how they can get more value (free or discounted consult) and a special offer (more value). People respect this honesty because you are letting them in on what’s going on, what’s expected. There are no surprises.

You can add a little incentive and provide a give-away/prize for everyone who turns in an feedback form. Tell them you’ll pick one (or more) and the winner will receive your prize (Starbuck’s gift card, a book, or whatever you want). People love the chance to win stuff! I learned this little technique from attending lunch at learns at Microsoft in Houston. It works great, everyone likes it, and almost everyone participates.

Take the introduction example above and fit it to your particular type of speaking engagement. If you want to sell books, then let people know you’ll have a book signing at the end of your presentation and offer your book at a discount. Let them know at the beginning of your introduction. Always give your audience a special offer if they buy today. You can tell them up front about the special pricing, but at the beginning let them know you’ll be letting them know about your special offer at the end.

Prepare your materials and your setup for the end. Have your forms ready and how you will distribute them. Have an assistant to help you with the logistics to make things go smoothly. You are going to be focused on your presentation and it’s great to have an assistant handle the details. I like to have my feedback form already distributed to everyone and have it be a different color like yellow.

Bonus

When you offer a free (or discounted) consultation, it does a couple of things. It gives those in the audience who are most interested a way to connect with you again with the opportunity and chance to hire you. Plus, it provides those who are most interested more value. When you set up the free or discounted consult with them, give them lots of value and don’t worry if it goes over the allotted time. Ask them at the end of your consult if they would be interested in other services. In many cases, you won’t even have to because they will be asking you about your services. I have seen this happen time and time again and experienced it myself.

Hope this is helpful to you. Your comments are always appreciated. What have you done in getting business from speaking engagements that’s worked well for you and not worked? Love to get your feedback.

Pam Terry
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8 Comments
  1. Margaret Anderson says:

    Good advice, nicely organized & presented.

    1. Pam Terry says:

      Thank you Margaret. I appreciate your feedback!

  2. Margye Solomon says:

    Loved your ideas. As a presentation coach and a speaker, I am always looking for thoughtful, organized approaches not only for the women I coach but for me!
    Targeted speaking engagements can be added to any branding strategy.

    1. Pam Terry says:

      Glad you liked it and thank you for the feedback.

  3. Tami Stackelhouse says:

    I lead a support group for those with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain. We have a policy of no solicitation.
    When I had my first chance to be a speaker at my own group, I honored that “no solicitation” policy – and got nothing from the talk, of course.
    I spoke with my business coach and he said, “Just because you can’t sell them doesn’t mean you can’t GIVE SOMETHING AWAY.” DUH! =)
    Such a subtle difference, but it’s really changed things for me. Now I offer everyone a free coaching session after my talks. They get my very best coaching… and I get a chance to talk with them about how my coaching can help them. I get a chance to “solicit” them outside of the group setting.

    1. Pam Terry says:

      Kudos to you Tami for the difference you are making for people. You have a great coach! When you offer your free coaching session, it paves the way for you to strengthen the relationship with the attendees and lets those who are interested in your services to do more with you. It’s truly a win/win.

  4. Margaret Anderson says:

    Tami, how often would you say someone who gets a free coaching session goes on to purchase more services?

    1. Pam Terry says:

      You’ll most likely find that about half of who you actually provide free coaching to will buy your services at some point, possibly at the end of the session or soon thereafter. And it won’t feel like selling, they will, many times, want to know about your services. I have experienced it myself. Tami, please let us know your experience, I would like to know also.

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These are the EXACT same steps I used to position myself as an expert and profit from speaking in less than 6 months.

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