Along with ballroom dancing, public speaking tops many people's list of things to fear. Public speaking is also one of the most powerful tools any entrepreneur can wield. Event organizers routinely hire a conference speaker for business events as a way to inform, motivate, and attract attendees. You may choose to speak to an audience about a specific industry or subject. Likewise, your presentation can be applicable to any audience, with a message that challenges and inspires them. Public speaking is also a great way to elevate your professional profile and generate business leads.
Stand Above the Crowd
The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and brilliant innovator, packed the hall in every venue in which he spoke. True, many attendees walked in the door to see Apple's latest product, but they connected with Jobs because he was a passionate master storyteller. While you may not have his star power, you can energize your audience by connecting stories of challenge and perseverance to the meat of your presentation.
Treat your audience with respect and intelligence, and they will respond in kind. The direct business benefit is that a vibrant presentation translates to a potential client's confidence that you will treat their business as valuable and worthy of all-in engagement.
Speakers, whose primary expertise is in their jobs, rather than as a public speaker, may find their presentations suffer because of nervousness or outright fear. Fear is not only common, it's normal. Use a moderate level of fear to maintain alertness before and during your speech. Preparedness helps you overcome the jitters because you know your subject cold. Whenever possible, become deeply familiar with your subject matter so you can make a confident presentation. Improvise when your notes disappear from your tablet, or during the question and answer period.
Workplace trainer and coach Alexia Vernon conquers her pre-speech fear by breathing deeply and using positive mental messaging. She takes 30 seconds to mentally reassure herself, "I am strong, I am brave. I show up at 100 percent, I perform at 100 percent." She notes that 10 or so recitations of her affirmation bring her peace and presence that allows her to connect with the audience.
Connect After Your Presentation
Giving an energizing speech that is valuable to your audience is a wonderful achievement. Be aware that in most cases, your potential leads and clients will not beat a path to your door; they need a reason to close that first deal with you. Bring collateral such as checklists, summaries of your presentation, and information about you and your company. Having a drawing, offering discounts on your product or services, or sending a free email newsletter is a great way to gather information from your audience. Be sure to follow up within a week of the event's conclusion, but be subtle about it. Conference attendees are generally bombarded with follow-up information, sometimes to the point of sending emails straight to the trash.
A powerful way to connect with your audience and to allow your name and message to stay with them is to write a book. Granted, writing a book takes time, a great deal of thinking, and talented editorial professionals to produce a high-quality volume. If writing is not your forte, hire a professional ghostwriter to turn your thoughts into an interesting, valuable book.
Be sure to hire an experienced proofreader and editor to polish the manuscript before you send it to the printer. This is not the time to leave the job of perfecting the manuscript to your cousin who just loves to read. Readers can tell when this step has been given short shrift, and it doesn't reflect well on your business. The advent of high-quality, print-on-demand services allows you to magnify your message and draw your audience to you after your presentation. For many business and speaking professionals, a book is a necessary calling card that adds credibility and value to your potential clients.
When organizing your back-of-the-room sales, make sure the audience knows when and where it will occur. Create buzz by turning it into a book signing. Book signings can become hectic and disorganized. Have at least one assistant who can handle the purchase transactions. All you should do is engage with each person with a smile, sign with a flourish, and leave them with a positive memory of your presentation, enthusiasm, and ability to stay cool under pressure.
When you speak to an audience, chances are they have experienced languishing in a conference room, listening to a speaker drone on through a slide presentation. Speakers who phone it in rather than engaging their audience see poor lead generation after their presentation. If your presentation has imagination, passion, and creativity, your audience generally reacts in kind.