Don't use speaking engagements to make 'hard' commercials about your product or service. Instead, you should focus on providing your audience with value that they can immediately understand and respect. Customize your presentation to fit the specific audience that you are talking to. Be passionate and knowledgeable about your speaking topic. Your audience will see your value and respond accordingly.
Here are some ways that you can prepare and locate speaking engagements to build your business:
- Alumni - Your involvement in college and university events may open the door to opportunities to speak to small groups. Also consider pointers from other alumni and business professionals who are active public speakers.
- Books - Take a moment to read 'Public Speaking for Dummies' by Malcolm Kushner.
- Friends and Family - Ask them to listen to you practice, but make sure they are brutally honest about your flow, technique and presentation. Have them list three things you did well and three things you can improve upon.
- National Speakers Association - Check out this website to see tips and resources for aspiring speakers. NSA is one of the leading professional associations for speakers with local chapters all over the nation.
- Speakers Bureau or Agent - If you are unable to manage the process yourself, a professional organization or agent can do it for you by booking engagements, negotiating fees and handling travel arrangements for a 'per project' or monthly fee. This may also open up speaking opportunities that you never knew about because you'll be in a database.
- Toastmasters - This nonprofit organization for beginning speakers (with local chapters worldwide) can help familiarize you with public speaking. Many of the speeches are given in front of members, and the organization also provides mentors for those looking to overcome presentation anxieties.
Our blog will continue to provide information that is useful to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Frankly, we hope that these 'Village Tips' are useful to many of you!