Public speaking is an excellent tool to demonstrate thought leadership, develop your professional brand, expand your circle of influence and become the voice of your own subject matter expertise or on behalf of an organization.
How do you get started?
Getting started is easier than you may think. I’ve been speaking at conferences, meetups, mastermind retreats and MCing events for over 15 years and am happy to share some ways you can leverage public speaking to build your professional brand.
The ideal speaking topics provide tremendous value to attendees and are designed to inform, educate or inspire rather than sell sell sell. This value-based approach will keep your audience their attention and engaged.
If you are speaking on behalf on behalf of a company, choose topics you are well versed in and are aligned with your products, services or offerings.
For example; If your company sells CRM tools, interesting topics could be:
- 10 Best Practices to StrengthenCustomer Relationships
- How to Delight Your Customers and Keep Them for Life.
The same approach holds true if you are speaking to increase your own professional brand recognition. What type of work do you do? What type of services do you deliver? What type of products have you created? Choose topics that align with what you offer and your expertise without selling.
For example; if you are a marketing consultant you can speak on:
- The Future of Marketing
- How to get There from Here – Defining Your Customer Journey
- Digital Marketing ROI – Measuring Your Marketing Investment
In both cases, have a strong call to action or invitation that will encourage engagement beyond the speaking opportunity. Examples of invitations you can make at the end of your talk are:
- Contact me for a complimentary 15 minute consultation
- Visit my website to download a FREE white paper on <subject>
- Sign up for my FREE e-course
Event organizers require creative assets to promote your session. Have these ready to provide to organizers to use online, in the event program, and advertising. Every speaker will need professional photographs, abstracts of speaking topics and professionally written biographies. I must stress professional here as cropping photos from gatherings or other activities, writing something quick and not being prepared to promote yourself as a speaker will result in loss of speaking opportunities or even worse, an unprofessional image. Find a photographer, possibly even a stylist, and a writer and invest in these creative assets to enhance your professional brand.
Here are the creative assets you require as a speaker:
- Professional Headshot
- Professional Head to Toe Shot
- *Professional Action Shot of you doing your work
- *Professional Speaking photos
- Long Bio / Backgrounder that showcases your track record, credibility, and credentials
- Short Bio – to be used in event programs and promotional materials
- Speaking Topics – a 1 paragraph abstract, 3 audience takeaways and technical specifications if required (A/V, Microphone, Monitor Placement, Rehearsal Requirements etc…)
Consider placing all of these resources in a shareable online folder for easy access by event organizers.
Leverage this content for your digital speakers kit on your website or PDF.
There are many speaking formats and, for the most part, this will be decided by the event organizers. Here are some of the most popular formats:
Talk & Presentation
While you may be encouraged to provide a presentation, the days of the presentation packed with text or even worse, reading a presentation from slides are gone. Create a presentation that compliments your soundtrack. Consider going graphics only or if absolutely required, include high-level speaking points. Always provide/bring your presentation in native and in PDF format to avoid nasty formatting surprises. If possible, do a run through at the event to ensure technology and presentation work well and, get a feeling for the facilities.
Freestyle presentations are great for seasoned presenters. To speak from the heart and from a position of deep expertise is not an easy thing to do, and a great way to demonstrate thought leadership. You can even have a couple of slides, quotes, facts, photos or short videos to complement your speaking topic. This style of presentation requires much preparation and little to no backup materials. The best part of this presentation is that you are the star of the show! This format is great for keynote addresses or as an MC.
When speaking on a panel, reach out to the moderator in advance of the session and get acquainted and provide them with materials to introduce you. Find out the style of the panel in advance. Is it a Q&A session, debate, opinion session? Some panels allow for each panelist to speak for a limited period of time. Be respectful of this and do not speak longer than the time allotted. Good moderators won’t allow it and you may get cut off resulting in only a partial delivery of your message. On the flipside cutting your fellow panelists time short is extremely bad form and a sure fire way to NOT get invited back. Network with the panelists in advance even if they are considered competitive. Be prepared, be positive and most importantly, be yourself.
Moderator or MC
Moderators and MC’s have an important job of keeping the audience engaged, introducing speaking talent and keeping things on schedule. If you are leading a conference or panel make sure you pronounce the speaker names and company names correctly. If you don’t know, ASK. Practise. Keep humor tasteful and if in doubt, check with event organizers. MC’s should also be dressed very tastefully and presentable. Consider a stylist for the day as well as hair and makeup (yes gentlemen for you too…possibly minus the makeup) if the event is not already providing this. Take control and manage your own image.
Seek speaking opportunities by searching on the web, contacting organizers of events of interest or you have attended and or consider hosting your own event to create your own opportunities. Make sure you have a solid pitch in both cases that include your speaking topic, the value it brings, and takeaways for attendees. Set up a Google Alert to search for speaking opportunities, call for speakers or call for papers in your industry.
Consider a speaking agent to source opportunities for you as well. They will take a % of your speakers fee, but it is worth it for them to source opportunities and handle the logistics for you.
Should I Charge?
Many of my clients ask me if they should charge for speaking. I have two approaches to this. 1) If the event places you directly in front of your perfect fit customer community, the opportunity to generate potential new business is yours. The event provides the qualified network, and you have the opportunity to tap into it. 2) If you are seasoned speaker you can command a fee to speak. Consider this. This fee covers preparation time, travel and lodging, and the time you spend on stage delivering your talk. To command a fee, you must be a seasoned speaker with a demonstrated track record. After speaking for years, I now typically charge a fee for talks that I source or my agents source unless it is for a not for profit organization.
Generate Additional Revenue
Other ways you can generate revenue from a speaking engagement are:
- a book signing if you are an author
- exhibit where you can actively sell your products and services
- offer an exclusive deal to attendees for a period of time during and after the conference.
Going the Extra Mile
Many events have a hashtag that attendees follow to get the latest news and soundbites from the conference. Create pre-authored sound bites that can be scheduled to send through social channels during your talk for easy sharing by conference attendees.
Exclusive Value Add
Provide an exclusive value add to attendees. Create a landing page on your website to provide them with a copy of the presentation, tips, downloads or additional items they may find useful. This gives you an opportunity to continue the dialog post event.
Videographer & Photographer
If the conference allows, consider bringing a videographer and photographer to the event to get coverage of you speaking, interacting with the audience and the talk itself. You can share these with the conference organizers and use them to promote yourself as a speaker. Sometimes you can arrange this directly with the conference organizers if they have already hired staff to capture the talks.
If you need help getting started with public speaking, creating your signature talks, creative assets or to enhance your professional brand, contact me! I’m pleased to offer packages for every stage of your speaking career and branding. Visit www.anastasia-valentine.com to get started.