Speaking is a great way to get in front of your target market, exhibit your expertise and gain new clients; but how do you get speaking engagements, and how do you leverage them? These questions and more were answered by Denise Hedges, business development coach, speaker coach and guest on this month’s SkillBites Show.

Denise shared an 8-step process for building a speaking practice:

  1. Identify the organizations likely to have your target market attending their speaking events. 
  2. For each organization that looks to be a good fit, create a spreadsheet to capture the relevant information, such as the organization’s name, location, website, program chair or event chair, phone number, email, mission, and any conversations you have with them.
  3. Develop a positioning statement or 30 second commercial.
  4. Develop at least 2 presentations, each with a compelling title.
  5. Develop a promotional description of each presentation (identifying the problem, the solution and 3 to 5 take-aways).
  6. Create a speaker’s one-sheet that includes your bio, headshot and speaking topics. Those seeking national speaking engagements or speaking at large conferences should also develop a press kit. 
  7. Prepare and practice your talking points for when you get the call or appointment to meet with the organization to apply to speak before their members. You might want to include such items as your positioning statement, the 1 sentence promo for each of your presentations, asking about their needs, and inquiries to make sure the organization meets any criteria that you may have.
  8. Draft a follow-up email or letter that you can send after you’ve met with the organization. This could include the description of your presentations, testimonials, speaker one-sheet, website URL, link to your book if you’re a published author, and when you should call them back. It’s critical that this be professional and without errors.

Before your presentation, make sure you confirm the logistics. How will the room be set up? Will there be a wireless microphone? If so, make sure you check the batteries and have a spare set of new batteries on hand. Will there be a meal served to the audience? You don’t want to be speaking while the waiters and waitresses are serving the meal.

Regarding the presentation itself, Denise provided several tips:

  1. Focus on the audience’s needs and wants.
  2. Provide a lot of value.
  3. Be authentic so you can connect on a personal level.
  4. The first 10 to 20 seconds are critical to make a good first impression and catch the audience’s attention. Don’t start with ‘thank you for having me’ or your credentials.
  5. State your objective and preview the main points you will make.
  6. Give lots of examples and stories.
  7. Make your presentation simple with a focused message of no more than 5 points.
  8. Have a call to action or offer, such as a free consultation.

Too many speakers lose the opportunity to leverage their speaking engagements by failing to include an offer. The offer is what moves the audience from inspiration to action. The offer should be made near the end of the presentation, before the Q&A. In making the offer, you should be confident, inspiring and passionate. Your offer is best if it is free and no obligation. Make it easy and quick to obtain. If you are offering free consultations, for example, have a clip board ready for people to sign up. Position the offer for people who are serious and committed, not as a gift, and specify your intentions: in the consultation, you will describe your services, how you can help and determine whether you are a good fit for each other.

Denise modeled how you make an offer from the stage by offering listeners of the show the opportunity to do a free coaching session and consultation with her. If you’re a business owner who’s serious about building and expanding your business … and you’re committed to doing the work … talk to Denise. To take advantage of her offer, contact her at Denise@DeniseHedges.com.