Being a guest speaker can be a great way of building relationships and winning new clients.
Guest speaking is one of my favourite marketing tactics, especially for knowledge based consultancy businesses. You are centre stage, the audience is there to learn and you have their undivided attention. If you are used to hitting the phones to get just one appointment, imagine how attractive it is to see a room full of prospective customers.
Finding your audience needn’t be something you do on your own. Partnering with other businesses can often create an interesting combination of speakers and double the attendance. So how do you get to be a guest speaker and, when all eyes are on you, how do you shine?
Here are some tips for establishing yourself as a guest speaker and getting the most out of the experience.
Define your topic
Without doubt this is the most important part as it will determine the level of interest you’ll get. What is it that you know that you think would appeal to the audience you’d like to have? Consider how this might solve perceived problems. For example, do you know of legislation changes that will impact on certain sectors. Do you have a product or service that has generated some real benefits. Do you have some great case studies that others can learn from?
Choose your partners
Generating attendees for an event can be time consuming, particularly if you are a sole trader or consultant. There are many professional bodies, trade associations and businesses that welcome speakers that can add a depth of knowledge to their existing members and clients. If you can identify a good ‘fit’ for your topic with a group or business you will be surprised at how receptive they can be. This tactic works particularly well when the presentation partner already has an events programme in place and can manage most of the promotion and booking for you.
Plan your content
Think about content that will be helpful and engage the audience in what should be a beneficial learning experience. Attendees will want to know how you can solve their problems. Don’t leave them guessing, but don’t make it a sales pitch either. It is an opportunity to demonstrate why you are an expert in your field and further your reputation. This is far more likely to lead to conversations that turn into business, and further opportunities to speak.
Plan your follow-up
Attendees will be expecting leave behind information with your contact details on it and there will be opportunities for one to one conversations. You can also ask the organiser for an attendee list to add to your contact database. It is polite to ask people if they would like to be added to any email newsletter system you may have. If the content has been stimulating, few would refuse. If you dislike cold calling then following up after an event has much greater recognition and you’ll find calls can be so much more productive - and enjoyable. For tips on using the telephone please read my article ‘Make your calls relevant and boost your confidence’.
How can I help?
I have helped several clients plan and promote events as well as structure their presentations and content. I have also approached partner organisations on their behalf. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know more.