Public speaking showcases your knowledge to people who are interested in hearing it. Speaking can be the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to establish yourself as an expert, and gives you tremendous credibility that increases over time, often helping you close sales before you leave the room. Without fail, almost every speaking engagement I pursue is profitable. After a talk, many audience members contact me and become paying clients. Others purchase my book and information products, or join my mailing list. Speaking has helped me expand my network, generate referrals, and form alliances with joint venture partners. And it’s not just the talk itself that delivers benefits; the “pre-talk” publicity reaches prospects and impacts my business. I recently landed a five-figure client because of an announcement for one of my talks. Journalists learn about my talk and approach me for interviews, generating even more exposure for my business. Speaking has boosted my reach and reputation as a thought leader, making my overall selling process easier and more effective. Get on The Program Speaking is a marketing strategy any business person, from solo professionals to corporate executives, can employ in order to reach potential clients and customers. Yet, many never consider standing in front of their buying public to share their professional wisdom. Speaking on a regular basis can end the uncertainty of knowing where your next client will come from. Speaking can help you reach dozens, sometimes hundreds, of your best prospects every time. Speaking can fill your prospect pipeline, ensuring a steady stream of new clients and customers. Speaking is effective because it lends you tremendous credibility. People see you as an undisputed leader in your industry. It’s an implied endorsement from sponsoring organizations that audience members trust. Speaking showcases your knowledge before people who will eagerly show up to hear you. Your prospects may tune out advertising, but they’ll pay attention to your talk because it presents knowledge in polished form. Speaking Is Selling Public speaking is a “warm” prospecting tactic that puts you within handshake distance of your best prospects, giving them a taste of what you offer in a non-threatening environment. When prospects hear you speak in a room full of people, they feel comfortable. There’s safety in numbers, not the sales pressure of a one-on-one meeting. The trick to speaking successfully is talking in a way that helps audience members solve their problems. Give them a taste of what you can offer and prospects will eventually want more. Jeff Holper is a pest-management expert and experienced public speaker who bills himself as “The Mole Hunter” to promote Holper’s Pest & Animal Solutions through a workshop for homeowners. He speaks to standing-room-only crowds at home shows, trade shows, and wildlife conferences. Holper’s Terminator University offers steps for dealing with moles and other rodents that invade lawns and gardens. These workshops help sell his many books, reports, videos — and mole traps. Getting Started There are plenty of clubs, organizations, and professional associations eager to establish relationships with speakers who can present useful, interesting material at meetings, seminars, conferences, and workshops. I follow a straightforward process: first, I research and contact business groups comprised of potential prospects; then, I approach meeting planners and introduce myself, suggesting topics based on short descriptions in my media kit. When I’m accepted, I deliver a 60-90-minute talk. Start with organizations where you are already a member. Expand your search by targeting groups that reach your target market. Make a few phone calls. Talk to your clients and customers; ask around to learn which organizations they belong to offer speaking opportunities. Consult the Encyclopedia of Associations at your local library. This directory will help you compile a list of local and national professional and trade associations likely to provide speaking opportunities. Turn to Google and research keywords related to your industry or niche. And don’t overlook local community colleges and continuing education programs, many of which provide ample opportunities to speak. Just because it’s easy to get booked as a speaker doesn’t mean it’s worth doing. Before you commit yourself, find out about the audience. Most organizations can answer these questions: • Are audience members really members of your target market? • How many people are likely to show up for the talk? • What kinds of speakers have recently presented to the group? • If expenses are involved, will the organization reimburse you? • Can you hand out materials and/or gather audience contact information? • Can you sell your books or other materials at the talk? It takes time to prepare your speech, travel to a speaking venue, and give a talk. Before you pursue a speaking opportunity, or accept an invitation to speak, make sure it has a high probability of benefiting your business. Keep in mind that many programs are scheduled from 6-to-12 months in advance. Consistency is key. Getting out there and speaking on a regular basis keeps your pipeline full of prospects. When you’re done, put a follow- up mechanism in place, even if it’s a simple mailing or newsletter. If you keep in contact with people who’ve heard you speak, you’ll get more long-term leverage from your efforts.