Grow business using speaking gigs

The biggest mistake you can make when you are invited to speak about your business is to actually speak about your business.

Talk about your ideas instead.

Nobody really wants to sit through a thinly disguised infomercial.

But if you can present new ideas in a way that intrigues others and sparks their imagination, they will consider their time with you well spent. If they can see how your ideas fit within their own lives and their businesses, you will find yourself with a loyal audience and great testimonials after each speech.

This goes against traditional thinking. Most people think that to use speaking gigs to grow their business they should talk about their current products and services.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it limits you, instead of paving the way for future growth. Remember that it is a reality of our world that the hot product you present today could be out of date tomorrow. But if you capture your audience’s imagination as an idea person, they will watch to see what you come up with next.

Steve Jobs understood the difference

If you want to see how this works, study the speeches of the late Steve Jobs. He was masterful at growing his customer base with every public speaking engagement. But he didn’t specifically talk about Apple products. Instead he sold his company’s ability to think innovative and to anticipate trends ahead of everyone else.

Jobs’ famous “Crazy Ones Speech” in which he encourages people to “Think different” is a classic example of this approach. He made it clear from the start that he was not going to talk solely about his product. Instead he inspired his audience to do things differently and to think differently, and he left them with ideas to build into their own businesses, even while he subtly promoted his own.

Check-list to capture your audience’s imagination

If you want to grow your business with public speaking and ensure your audience remembers you, use this checklist to determine if you are doing it right:

  1. Know what your end goal is every time you make a public address. Are you trying to sell more product this quarter? That’s a short-sighted goal. Are you trying to create life-long customers who will continue to show an interest in what you are doing? That is a sustainable business goal.
  2. Know which audience is most likely to become your customers. It’s true that everyone you encounter has the potential to buy your product or service, but some are much more apt to dig into their pockets for you than others. Know who your products and services resonate with and go after them.
  3. Remember that public speaking to grow your business is not a numbers game. You could gain more business from 20 people who fit your customer avatar than 2,000 people selected at random to hear you speak.
  4. Do not open your mouth before you have figured out what kind of problems the members of your audience are wrestling with and whether you have the potential to solve at least some of them. Present your story with the end goal of problem-solving in mind. Your business, like all enterprises, has many aspects to it. Make sure you select the most interesting one for your audience and show how you can add value to their lives.

Don’t wait for fate to find you

Once you have a good plan for your speech content and your intended audience to grow your business, all that remains is getting the speaking gigs.

Start by making it known that you do keynote addresses. Add this information to your website, work it into casual and business conversations, and create a speaker page that you can deliver as a printed or electronic version.

Your speaker page should include:

  • Topic themes you can speak about
  • Your contact information
  • A professional photograph of you
  • At least three thought-provoking things your audience will learn from you

Target your audience

Join both online and community groups that target your customer base and be actively involved in them. Get to know the person lining up the speakers and make sure that they understand what you can do.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce and take a booth at their next networking event. Have your Speaker Pages available and pass them out. Most people who have to arrange regular programs are glad to see a new idea for a speaker and this one strategy alone may yield one or two speaking gigs.

Remember to have the backup support you need on your website and social media so that people interested in inviting you to speak can easily learn more about you. At the very least, make sure that your website is regularly updated and contains a new blog at least once a week, a newsletter and even a free downloadable White Paper or E-book. Link your blog to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

Be prepared for the snowball effect

If you promote yourself effectively, the speaking offers make come faster and more frequently than you expected. Be ready for this snowball effect in advance by preparing three or four different presentations right now.

When the call comes, select the most appropriate program and you are ready to go, stress-free.

If you are using public speaking as a principle means of marketing yourself and your business brand, remember to constantly update your remarks and your themes. At least each quarter of the year you need to devise or completely update your themes, your stories and your examples.

Will you run out of ideas?

You may think that you will run out of ideas if you have to present new ones each time you speak. That doesn’t happen. Instead, you will likely find that you have more ideas than ever. Consider your best ideas drawn from the well of your fertile brain. Unlike a well of water which could run dry, your well of ideas replenishes itself each time you draw from it.

The more ideas you pull from your brain and develop and present, the more ideas will rush in to replace them.

In this way, you will grow your business still more vigorously. Your public speaking gigs and their accompanying need to talk about new and fresh ideas will keep your mind bringing forth new ideas and your creativity will grow and grow.

It’s a win-win situation all around.