Sharpening your speaking skills can give you an edge over your competitors by positioning you as an expert in your field. Ron Prasad offers five ways you can get in front of audiences.
Do you know what the number one fear in western society is?
It is not the fear of spiders, or the fear of heights, or even the fear of death.
It is the fear of public speaking.
Some business owners are aware of the importance of speaking to audiences, while others ignore it. Being in business requires strong communication skills. Public speaking is one aspect of this. My belief is that sharpening your public speaking will give you an edge over your competitors.
Not all businesses need to deliver speeches in order to attract customers. If you own a vegan restaurant or grocery store, there are other ways to market to your target demographic – although speaking at events can be an additional strategy to boost your public profile and get more people through your doors.
For others, speaking skills are mandatory in this day and age of competition in the business world.
To illustrate the importance of public speaking, let me ask you a simple question: What do you think of a person as soon as you see and hear them delivering a talk in front of an audience?
Most of us regard the speaker as an expert or an authority figure. People who give speeches or presentations are seen as having credibility and status.
Before you start thinking about speaking in front of an audience, you must clearly define your niche or your target market. Gain absolute clarity on who your ideal buyer would be.
So, as a business owner, how do you land speaking gigs to raise your profile and increase sales or leads?
Here are five tips to use public speaking as an effective marketing tool:
1. Look for events that your potential buyers will attend
In addition to veg or vegan-specific events such as expos, seek out those where there are people who are hungry for your products or services. For example, health events if you own a food business. Or fashion expos, particularly those with a focus on ethics or sustainability.
Contact the organizer, and offer to give a free talk. Yes, I said ‘free’! That way, the organiser is more likely to have you at their event and you are getting a chance to market to their attendees. Tell the organiser why his or her audience will benefit from your talk.
For example, if you are a vegan naturopath, you can suggest something along the lines of ‘The 5 Keys to Energy and Vitality in a Hectic Society.’ Organizers of events can be open to new ideas and speakers at their events.
Some events have formal processes for applying to be a speaker and others may even require you to pay to get in front of their audiences. It is up to you to figure out if this is worthwhile.
Your goal is to get your name out there. So, be open to giving free talks to market yourself as the expert and authority figure.
2. Partner with another business
When I was a financial planner, I often delivered presentations at events hosted by real estate agents and finance brokers. It was a win-win situation for both businesses. The host got to give their audience a ‘bonus speaker’, and I got to market my services as a financial planner.
No audience member ever came up to me after my speech and said, “I didn’t appreciate hearing from a financial planner tonight.” Instead, most of the audience members thanked me for adding value to their evening. So, look for a business that you can partner with, and speak at their event.
3. Host your own event
If you cannot find an event where you can speak, or you are unable to partner with another business, you can host your own event or information session.
Yes, you will have to do smart marketing in order to get attendees. One simple marketing strategy would be to invite your existing contacts and ask them to ‘bring a friend’. The benefit of hosting your own event is that you will be seen as someone who is successful in your field, and is passionate about providing information to your market.
You can also record your presentation and market this through your website and social media channels to reach even more people.
4. Offer to answer questions in the Q&A session of an event
I remember going to a movie screening which highlighted the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. At the end of the movie screening, a man was introduced to answer any questions that the audience had in regards to a plant-based eating.
What do you think most audience members thought of him as he came up to the stage, took the microphone in his hand, and asked “Any questions?” Most audience members would have seen him as the expert in this area. So, if you come across any events where your expertise could come in handy, put your hand up to take questions at the end of the formal proceedings.
5. Get interviewed
When my book was released, I started approaching the media about it, and offered to be interviewed on air. Within the first month of the release, I did interviews in the US and Australia. I did the same thing when my free anti-bullying app was released.
You don’t have to write a book or put out an app to be interviewed. All you have to do is convince the media that you are an expert in a field, and that you are willing to add value to the people who will tune in to listen to your interview. To do that, you will have to contact the media, or send a well-crafted press release.
Being featured in the media raises your profile and can result in you being invited to speak at events.
Your voice is a simple yet effective tool when it comes to marketing your business. Use it!