Public Speaking: How to Talk Your Way to an Endless Stream of New CustomersBy: Kevin Nunley
Public speaking is one of the oldest and most effective ways to market your small business. You can connect with hundreds of prospects in a very personal way. It's extremely cheap to do. And YOU will be good at it when you follow these easy tips!
"Me? Speak to a crowd?" I hear you say. Consider this...
There are a great many groups in your area who have meetings and need speakers. If you have something of value to tell their members, they'll appreciate your offer to speak to them.
Check your local library for lists of organizations in your city. I was amazed to find over 100 such groups in my mid-sized town. Everything from an association of insurance adjusters to a monthly meeting of hamster growers.
All you need is some kind of helpful information you can share with others. Think of the special skills and information that you use to help customers in your business. Is there a way to share that knowledge with a group? All kinds of specialties make for a good speaking engagement: money-saving tips, auto repair, political lobbying, arts, personal advice, how-to lessons, sports, gardening.
My specialty is media and marketing. Groups love it when I give them a few pointers on how to publicize their businesses and organizations with the media.
Limit your talk to 20 minutes. Keep your message simple. Public speaking is not a good way to explain lots of detailed information (remember some of those boring classes in high school that almost put you to sleep?). Decide on two or three key points you want the audience to remember. Bring your points to life with stories about yourself and others.
Starting your talk with a bit of humor can break the ice. A short, harmless quip at the beginning can give the audience a good feeling about you. Go for a smile rather than a "guffaw." It's much safer.
To schedule a public speaking engagement, contact the organization by phone. Explain what you want to talk about. Follow up with a letter and a flier or brochure about yourself. Call back in a few days to schedule your talk.
Don't get discouraged by the fear of stage fright. The key is not to focus on individuals in the audience. Think of the audience as an abstract whole. I've learned this technique from professional performers who have had to overcome bad cases of the jitters.
Speaking to an audience is really no different than speaking to several customers in your business.
Leave your sales pitch until the end of the talk. People will be much more open to you and your ideas if they feel you are there to help and not to sell them something. After the talk is over, provide everyone with a one-sheet explaining who you are, what you do, how to contact you, and a summary of what you've just told them.
Finally, don't give up if your first public speaking engagement doesn't go exactly as you planned. There's an old saying among comedians that you always bomb on your first try. I doubt you'll bomb on your first speaking engagement, but speaking will get easier and better each time you present your knowledge to an audience.
© 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996 DrNunley.com.
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