Are you looking for a way to get new customers, build your brand and grow your reputation as an industry expect? It’s surprisingly simple. Learn how to get clients with public speaking.
By Rieva Lesonsky
I spend a lot of time in front of crowds. Whether it’s traveling across the country for a conference or driving across town to speak at a local business networking event, public speaking is a primary way I attract customers to my business.
How Public Speaking Can Help Your Business
Here are a few reasons public speaking is such a great marketing tool for small business owners:
- It builds your business brand. The more often your name and your business name are exposed to an audience at speaking events, the more awareness of your business it generates.
- It creates a reputation for expertise. It’s human nature to see speakers as authority figures. Speaking on topics related to your business helps you get a reputation as an expert, which makes your business more desirable to prospective customers and clients.
- It boosts your confidence. You might have salespeople who actually sell your products or services, but as a business owner, you still have to “sell” your products and services to prospects. Public speaking may be uncomfortable at first, but over time, it helps you gain confidence. Eventually you’ll feel at home talking to just about anybody, which is a huge asset in growing a business.
Conquer Your Fears of Public Speaking
Few of us naturally welcome the thought of speaking in front of a crowd—so if the idea sparks butterflies, you’re not alone. Try these tactics to overcome your nerves.
Educate yourself. Look for the most popular TED talks on YouTube and watch them to get an idea of what successful speakers do to keep the audience enthralled.
Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your talk in front of a mirror first, then do it in front of a friend or family member who will be honest about your performance. Listen to their feedback and work to get better. You can even ask someone to record you giving the speech, if that helps.
Get expert assistance. Investing in professional speech coaching can get you up to speed quickly. If you don’t have the budget for that, visit your local chapter of Toastmasters International. This organization helps people learn to speak in front of others, and you’ll meet other businesspeople as well as gaining new skills.
Map Out Your Public Speaking Campaign
To find the perfect places to get clients with public speaking, follow these steps.
- Identify your goal. Start by figuring out what prospects you want to target with public speaking.
- Locate your prospects. Find events that those prospective customers attend or groups they belong to. If you’re trying to target parents of middle-school children as clients for your tutoring business, you could speak at PTA meetings in neighboring communities, for example.
- Hone your topic. Identify some topics you can talk about that will appeal to the groups you’re targeting by providing a benefit to their members. For instance, a tutoring business owner could speak to PTA parents about how to help children develop good study habits or how to start planning for successful college applications.
- Create an offer that relates to your topic. You’ll want to develop a tie-in offer for your audience. For example, the tutoring business might offer parents the first tutoring session free or a discount off weekly sessions.
Get Clients With Public Speaking
Now that you’re ready to speak in front of a group:
- Contact the leaders of the organizations or events you’ve identified. Ask about their needs and see if you can speak at their events.
- Have lots of marketing materials available. Bring business cards, brochures, fliers or introductory discount coupons you can provide to the audience.
- Get the group’s contact information. Gather business cards from the audience. Also ask them to sign up to receive emails from your business. Provide something valuable, like entry into a prize drawing or a discount offer, in return for signing up.
Speaking will get easier and easier as you do it more often. Eventually, you might become an in-demand speaker for events, organizations or trade shows. Public speaking creates a wide variety of opportunities for a small business, so what are you waiting for? Start talking!
Lecturer with audience stock photo from Aggapom Poomitud/Shutterstock