Jerry Seinfeld’s joke said it best “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
So, why is that the case in our outspoken, ‘put it all out there’ society? It seems people are afraid to be judged. We’re all judged all the time in business, so why not use the power of Public Speaking in a way that you, your company, your brand are judged positively?
Early on when I started this business, I saw that business owners who were on the speaking circuit had a number of things going for them:
- Ongoing Pipeline
I realized that this was a route I should take and I’m very glad I did. My workshops and speaking engagements are a no-cost pipeline for me and I love doing it.
I did it and you can too. Here’s how:
- Seek out potential opportunities – reach out to organizations in your local area such as: Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, leads groups, and any other local business club whose membership fits your target audience. You’ll find they’re surprisingly open-minded and are always seeking guest speakers. Build on the opportunities – once you get a few under your belt, the rest just flows.
- Be sure to bring some handouts which can include business cards, brochures, a summary or tip sheet of what you discussed, even a promotional give-away (I use pens so folks can sign up for my newsletters).
- And, always collect business cards or lead names/emails from the audience so you can follow up.
- Of course, always ask for testimonials too.
- You might want to create a downloadable Speaker’s Press Kit for your website with a call to action so folks can easily access it.
- Hire a videographer to capture one or two of your early talks – this will help you evaluate your speaking style and work on polishing it over time. Also, you can upload the video on your website’s home page – choose one of your favorite snippets. This is helpful because home pages with video are up to 54% more likely to appear on page one in searches.
- To charge or not to charge? – that’s a good question. I know someone who has earned $5 million in speaking fees over his career. He charges a very reasonable fee and has gotten thousands of speaking engagements over the years. When you get or make a call you should ask if they pay an honorarium. If they do, great. If not, you can look at it as an opportunity to get paying clients and so long as it’s local, will likely be worth your time. If, like me, you’re an author, oftentimes a group or association will purchase a block of books from you and have you sign them at the event. Not a direct pay, but still revenue.
- Get the word out – then watch what happens. Speakers are often responsible for doing their fair share of promoting the event. To do this you can use all of your social media outlets, put a footnote on your email signature block, and announce upcoming events in your email newsletter or on your website. Whatever outlets you have available for your use is appropriate.
- Take it to next level – public speakers can branch out in several ways. You can get a booking agent, join a speaker’s bureau, even create your own event at a local establishment or library (note: library events must be free to the public). Once you try it and see that it works, the sky is the limit.
Here’s me at a recent workshop I did for the Monroe, CT Chamber of Commerce.
Many thanks to Beth Stoller, of At the Podium for booking me for this speaking engagement.