Here's something you already know: Speaking before the right group of prospective clients can result in opportunities for new work.
Think about it. You've got a targeted audience of people who want to hear what you have to say, and you're the only one talking to them. It doesn't get much better.
Sure, you have to give a great presentation to get the real benefit from speaking, but the delivery of your speech is only a small part of what you can do to make it a marketing success.
It's Not Just Talk
To get the most from your speeches, think about each one as a continuum of marketing activities, beginning when someone first contacts you about the speech and ending long after the speech is over.
Here's what I mean. Obviously, you will meet lots of new people on the day of your speech. But you also have valuable chances to meet and listen to prospective clients while you're planning and preparing your speech.
And after your speech, if you keep the contact with your audience members alive, expect other project opportunities to come your way.
Think about ways to get your ideas across to prospective clients before, during, and after the speech, and watch your marketing success grow.
Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
Before You Take the Stage
Imagine the life of a meeting planner. That person has one goal: Organize an informative, entertaining (or at least yawn-free) event. You can help the meeting planner achieve that goal and market your business at the same time.
In the weeks (or months) before your speech, ask the meeting planner to help you set up short interviews with some of the meeting leaders and attendees.
Use these interviews to learn more about the theme of the meeting and to nail down the overall message you need to get across. This will help you design a more compelling program.
Some consultants conduct in-person interviews to learn about these issues, while others may send out an online survey to uncover relevant points. Depending on the group, some consultants do both.
Whatever approach you use, your explicit goal is to develop a better program, not market your business. But through this process, people see you at your best--uncovering issues, identifying trends, and offering ideas. The marketing value of that exposure is immeasurable.
Find innovative ways to interact with the meeting leaders and attendees and you'll also differentiate yourself from the pack. It's always a pleasant surprise for a meeting planner to find out that a speaker is willing to go the extra mile to make an event a success.
Use this pre-speech opportunity to connect with people who may help you in the future.
When You Arrive: Don't Be Invisible
On the day of the event, you may be tempted to fade into the background, especially if it's a large gathering. Resist the urge to sit on the sidelines. Spend time with the meeting organizers. Attend other parts of the meeting, if you're invited.
Use the time leading up to your speech to talk with the attendees on a one-to-one basis, and pay attention to their comments.
Be sure to listen in on what the top dogs of the group say in their sessions. You can then extend those important remarks in your presentation, give them your own spin, and connect with audience members using your knowledge of what's going on.
Staying visible beforehand helps the meeting organizers make the event a bigger success. You can also help the audience with your insights, and you get your name out there. Everyone wins.
Once Your Speech Begins
Once you hit the stage, don't try to sell anything except your ideas. Nothing turns an audience against you faster than having to sit through a sales pitch that is thinly disguised as a speech.
Stay focused on the content that matters most to your audience. Your content and delivery style are all you need to attract attention to your ideas, and your business.
It never hurts to offer the audience something, for example, a handout or a copy of your slide deck, to help them remember you. That's an easy way to develop new relationships.
To make the most of any speaking opportunity, you have to deliver a killer speech. If you want to learn more about that from some of the world's top speech coaches, have a look at my compilation of interviews and podcasts on exactly how the pros do it, Create and Deliver Your Best Speech Ever.
After the Speech
Once your speech is done, don't rush out of the meeting room and head to the airport. Stick around and meet people. Answer questions and stay engaged. Attend other sessions that are scheduled after yours.
Extending your presence at the meeting is a great way to reinforce your message and to continue building new relationships.
Also, be good about following up with anyone you've made contact with at the meeting. It's easy to get home, get involved with other commitments, and be slow to follow-up with people you met at the meeting.
Get back to people immediately or risk losing the opportunity you worked so hard to create.
In some cases, meeting planners have offered me the email addresses for all of the meeting attendees so I could do follow-up marketing. I've never taken that offer because sending unsolicited follow-up emails to a roster of meeting attendees seems like spam to me.
I only contact people I met at the meeting and those who asked me to stay in touch.
What Are You Really Doing?
Everything I've described here adds some extra time to the work of delivering a speech. To take advantage of these ideas, you may need to rethink the purpose of giving a speech.
You're marketing your business--not just delivering a speech. When you think about your speeches as a continuum of activities to build your business, the benefits of the activities I've written about are a no-brainer.