By Raoul Davis, special to EO
Public speaking is, by its nature, a tool to convey information on a particular issue. Successful public speakers are revered by their audience for their knowledge base, broad appeal and professional stature. Any CEO at a podium before an audience with clout is going to have instant credibility. What better platform is there to promote a product or service?
You have a room full of people listening to your every word, ready to participate and willing to act. The best speakers will engage the audience with an interesting personal anecdote and demonstrate a clear mastery of their topic. The speaker will utilize the platform to talk about their corporation or individual products and service offerings. Of course, public speaking is the perfect opportunity to ensure the ongoing success of your corporation to the masses!
If you are a CEO speaking to a group of sales people from various companies that can all be potential distributors/resellers of your product, then your dream scenario is staring you right in the face. You cannot create a “softer” sales environment. A captivated audience of decisions makers who can immediately purchase mass quantities of your product is the ideal situation. If that doesn’t get you excited—and if you can’t generate sales from that scenario—then perhaps it’s time to think of another career.
Many times, CEOs will allow fear to stop them from speaking. Personally, I use to hate public speaking, and at Ascendant Group (AG), we have several clients that had to make the adjustment. But, I am a witness that it can be done, and when you think about the new revenue channel it creates while drastically decreasing your marketing expenses, your willingness to speak will receive a jolt, as well.
So, how do you build brand equity and increase revenue from speaking? Here are some specific steps:
Step one: Research potential organizations, conferences and other events that would provide you with more exposure to the most potential customers for your business, then develop a contact database for them that includes mailing addresses, phone numbers and key contacts. You should pay particular attention to trade shows. For most industries, these are gold mines for the speaker. Finally, do not underestimate the relevance of the college circuit.
Step two: Develop two speaking topics that relate to the service industry you are in, and one additional topic that may be more outside of your service industry, but with which you are passionate about and have experience. For instance, the CEO of a company in the financial services industry may select topics such as “Investment Strategies That Work in Any Economy,” or “The SevenSecrets to Financial Freedom.” Your titles should be interesting, and you should have a brief blurb describing each topic.
Step three: Next, develop your personal bio and make sure it highlights your brand “tagline” and speaks to your background. You must also ensure that your bio is relevant to your speaking subject matter. You should also include media, accomplishments and personality traits that differentiate you from others.
Step four: Create marketing materials! In this Internet era, it is essential for you to develop a website. While you can choose to carve out a section of your corporate website to drive people to, a personal website is extremely important. Never use templates; instead, find designers that know code well and can customize your site to fit all aspects of who you are.
Step five: Develop your marketing plan and execute it. This may seem very cliché, but it is critical. After all, consistent marketing efforts yield results. Keep sending the hardcopy mailings, and consider visiting organizations where you could potentially speak. The face-to-face interaction will give you a strategic advantage.
Step six: Maintain your database with copious notes on every conversation. At AG, we use ACT as our database software. ACT has some excellent features that allow you to take detailed notes on every call, rank opportunities and create a sales process. ACT is an excellent tool and can be used online by multiple users. It can be a bit cumbersome in the amount of CPU memory it takes, but if you have a high-performance computer it is definitely worth it!
If you follow these six steps, you will launch your speaking career. Additionally, you will be introduced to a new world of customers and direct sales. And these customers will spread the word about you, which will likely lead to more speaking engagements and even more revenue.
Raoul Davis is the CEO of Ascendant Strategy, a firm focusing on strategic branding for leaders. He has built a private executive-client list that includes Fortune 50 executives, multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, major media personalities and New York Times best-selling authors.