Conferences, for any field, are a production. They’re great places for people to hear an expert talk about what they’re interested in, and ideally, provide insight into the topic that an attendee can’t easily find elsewhere. It has its obvious benefit to the audience, in that they get to hear information not everyone who just browses the internet is enlightened with. But what about the speaker? There are benefits for the speaker at these conferences, aside from the obvious one of being showcased in front of an audience paying to hear you speak. Take advantage of the not-so-obvious benefits and see how they affect not only your business, but also your reputation and your marketing abilities going forward.

It’s Not All about You

If your ultimate goal of speaking at the conference is to promote your brand, then you must do so in a subtle manner that is not overbearing toward your audience. The key objective for every conference speaker has to be delivering genuine and lasting value to the conference attendees. Even if you’re there to promote your product or your service, people are more likely to listen to what you’re saying, and remember your presentation and the product or service you’re promoting, if you deliver value.

Yes, people are there to hear you speak, but why? Most of the time, it’s not because of who you are, but what you represent. Let’s face it: millions of people aren’t going to show up just to see your face like you’re the Pope or Queen Elizabeth. They’re there to hear about what you offer and how it can benefit them. They’ll be more interested if you give them real value that they can understand, and sparking this interest is the first step in connecting. People attending your conference are smart (they must be since they’re there to hear you speak, right?). Don’t insult their intelligence with a lame pitch only promoting your service; they’ll recognize what this conference is about to you, and tune out. Make the conference about the mutual benefits for both you and your audience. Deliver a non-commercial message on a personal level for your audience, and you’ll begin to gain trust. Trust is the foundation of any connection or relationship; without it, you might as well be speaking to the chairs in the room. If you have to implant a commercial message, do so in the last 10% of your speech, after you’ve gained the trust of your audience; introduce it with a subtle segue.

Never Discriminate Against Your Audience

Not everyone who attends a conference will feel they’ve gained value from it, so not everyone is a potential customer at the end of your speech. However, you must assume that every set of eyes on you that day can affect your business, directly or indirectly. Perhaps someone approaches you who isn’t interested, but they know someone who is. Leave a lasting impression, and you might just lead that person to recommend you to a friend. Giving time to an attendee, and respecting what they have to say, can never hurt you. Disrespect them by ignoring them, though, and you’ll find your reputation at risk. No amount of success is an excuse for arrogance; you’re only as successful as your audience allows you to be.

The Not-So-Obvious Benefits

Speaking in front of an audience establishes you as an authority in your niche. It showcases you as an expert to a varied audience, which gives you more gravitas and credibility when dealing with issues on the given topic. Without having to do much campaigning, you are already regarded as a guru because your name is on the posters for the conference. This has a subtle way of changing the balance in any discussion or negotiation you might enter into after the speaking event. The opportunity to speak should be a confidence booster in itself. Someone has invested their time and money in you and what you know, so deliver with confidence and see how it benefits both parties.

Transition from Speaker to Audience

The whole conference is about what you know and how you deliver it, except for one part – the Q&A section that every speaking event should have. The bond between speaker and audience is never more intimate than in this moment. Whether a question is profound or arbitrary, you need to show it – and the person who asked it – the same respect that was given to you. How you interact after your speech is just as important to your reputation as the speech itself.

Leave an Impression

Always remember why people come to hear your speak before you walk on the stage. Remember that most came because of what you represent, not who you are. Be humbled by the opportunity, but confident in your delivery; always remember that it isn’t just about you telling what you know, it’s about how your audience can benefit from that information. Bottom line, your audience is there to find success for themselves, but your success is largely dependent on their interest. Deliver real value to your audience, leave them wanting more, and everyone wins.