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Public speaking

"I've had several speaking engagements lately," my client told me, "but I'm not getting any clients from them. I know speaking helps other people get business. What am I doing wrong?"

Public speaking can be a powerful approach to building your business as a self-employed professional. It's always been a significant component of my own marketing plan, and it's served me well. But it's not just the exposure of speaking in public that produces results; there's more that goes into it. Here are five steps to make sure your speaking gigs bring you paying clients.

  1. Speak to the right audience. When you are new to public speaking, it's okay to speak anywhere that will invite you, just to gain experience and a track record. But for speaking to turn into paying business, you must get in front of your ideal clients. Speaking is a time-consuming activity; you need to use it judiciously. Instead of speaking to audiences that might contain a few prospects, seek out groups with a profile that closely matches your most desired target market.
  2. Choose the best topic. There may be dozens of topics you could speak on, but they won't all be equally attractive to prospective clients. What is the number one issue that a new client typically brings to you? That's what you should be speaking about. Picture one of your favorite clients, and make a list of the questions and problems that client asked you to help with when you first began working together. This will help you design a topic to attract more clients like that one.
  3. Showcase your expertise. Take every opportunity to show the audience that you are an expert. Write your own bio for the organizers to use when promoting your talk and introducing you at the event. Make sure it includes the most impressive elements of your credentials. Give examples from your work when you speak, and tell stories about the positive results you've produced for your clients. Allow yourself to shine.
  4. Deliver a memorable experience. Craft your talk to provide your audience with takeaways - key ideas, realizations, or action steps that they will carry away with them. Give them something tangible to remember you by, such as a handout or tip sheet (with all your contact information, of course). Prepare and practice so you can present without being glued to your notes. This will allow you to better connect with your audience.
  5. Follow up with everyone who attends. This crucial step can make the difference between a talk that brings only applause and a talk that brings clients. If the organizers will not be sharing the guest list with you, hold a drawing for a book, CD, DVD, or other gift to collect contact information from the audience. After the program, contact each audience member to thank them for attending, offer to answer questions about your topic, and ask if you can stay in touch.

Public speaking can help you fill your marketing pipeline while boosting your credibility. Follow these five steps, and you'll begin to see why so many self-employed professionals swear by public speaking as a path to getting clients.

Copyright © 2015, C.J. Hayden

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