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How to Land Speaking Engagements

June 28, 2018 Amy Stevens

Everyone is looking for the next best tech-y way to get their brand noticed in today’s crowded and fragmented digital media world. Social media and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are becoming more popular ways to get the message across. And people tend to prefer texts and email over phone calls. However, there is still one old-school method that delivers that tried and true personal connection to which we as humans still respond best. That’s face-to-face communication. While AR can do this with fancy 3D holograms and helmets, it doesn’t hold a candle to speaking to a crowd in person.

Positioning your CEO as a thought leader and securing reputable speaking opportunities in front of targeted audiences should be an integral part of your annual public relations strategy – especially if your company is in a traditionally B2B-focused industry.

Here are three ways to get your feet wet:

 

  1. Start Small

If your designated company spokesman is new to the speaking circuit, don’t expect to get booked for keynote speeches at large conferences right away. Start with local opportunities that will develop his or her speaking skills and subject matter to fit group needs. This could mean addressing business clubs, not-for-profit and religious organizations, trade associations and smaller professional organizations. Even schools, libraries and colleges can be wonderful places to garner feedback and learn what examples and subject matter really resonate with a crowd – and what falls flat.

These are also great places to build up a speaking resume, so that in the future when you go for the larger, more recognizable industry organization events, you have a list to share showing your experience. Additionally,  you can really shine by creating a short video that showcases clips and highlights from these initial talks, such as something like this.

 

  1.  Pitch What You Know

On the campaign trail, most candidates have one or two go-to speeches on topics they are comfortable with and know really well from experience. Why reinvent the wheel? Stick to what you’re familiar with, but be tweak the title and/or subject matter as needed for each audience. Narrow the focus and don’t be too general. The more intriguing and specific you get with your topic, the better chance you have at sparking group interest. It’s a lot like pitching the media.

For example, we have a Nashville client that consults with private equity investors. An issue that kept springing up is most of the company’s customers had one or two businesses in their portfolio that weren’t meeting profit expectations but also weren’t doing so horribly that they were ready to cut their losses. So, we brainstormed and came up with a pithy pitch that switched up a boring speaking topic to something more attention-grabbing: “5 Ways to Deal with Purgatory Portfolios.” Believe me, something like this will get you more interest than a more general topic like “Private Equity Investing 101.”

 

  1. Jazz it Up

When you do get a chance to speak to a group, treat it like it’s the newest iPhone reveal and add special effects. No matter how dynamic a speaker you are, whiz-bang visuals and audio can truly add that professional wow-factor.  Use relevant trending news examples, video, graphics and photos. But don’t get carried away. Whatever you add, make sure it enhances your presentation and doesn’t just use the technology to show off – or worse, take away from the main messaging.

Remember, every time you reach out to an organization you’re doing the ‘first impression’ thing. Don’t be a robot or be afraid to show your true self or be overly polite. Grab their attention by being human. In fact, one last tip is to always find a human to connect with in your speaking engagement outreach.

Don’t get stymied by contact forms and info@organization.com emails. Send forms as required, but always follow-up with a person. Click on their organization leadership page, find a name on LinkedIn, or call the main line and ask who handles educational events. Once you get your first speaking engagement, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and learning as you go. The payoff in relationship-building, networking and eventually more sales is well worth the effort.

Want to learn more about booking and preparing for speaking engagements? Contact us here. We promise a real person will respond.

 

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