You hear spending 45 minutes in front of a hungry group of prospects will keep your sales pipeline filled into perpetuity. But what do you talk about?
Before pitching yourself as a speaker to any group, you need to develop a unique, non-sales oriented, generally educational message. By positioning yourself as an expert on a topic your target needs or wants to know about, you’ll not only guarantee yourself a spot in front of that audience, but will gain the kind of credibility that grows business. When you walk off the podium, people will be waiting to shake your hand and ask questions…an opportunity waiting to happen.
Developing your topic will take a little research. I generally go to the web sites of the groups I’m targeting and see what events might be open for speakers. If the title or description of the event doesn’t reveal their hot buttons, articles or current newsletters posted on the web site might. My next stop is online editions of industry publications which will give a good indication of trends and issues.
When I finally make my phone call to pitch a speaker, I usually arm myself with three topics that should be of interest to the group. I make it clear that these are just ideas and that the speaker would be happy to develop a program that specifically addresses their needs. I always have an email deliverable on hand that gives a brief outline of the topics that I can shoot out to the prospect on the fly.
Don’t be discouraged by having to customize your talk every time you’re asked to speak. Most presentations can be recycled in some way for different groups or industries. It may be as simple as changing the word “you” to “your client” or giving a conservative topic a little flash.
One important comment: NEVER try to sell when you present. The goal of public speaking is to educate the audience and gain credibility for the speaker which will ultimately lead to sales. If you try to push your product or service, you’ll come off like a shyster and kill any opportunity you may have had to sell to members of the audience.
Most event organizers are somewhat hesitant to try a speaker that has prospected them directly, but you’ve got to start somewhere so be persistent. By impressing the organizer and their audience with a well targeted, credible presentation, you’ll be asked back and referred on others. Of course, make sure you have plenty of business cards and brochures…you’ll need to hand them out to all of the future customers that stop by to shake your hand after your talk.