Even though there are few if any live speaking opportunities today due to the pandemic, there are still many opportunities for speakers.  In this month’s SkillBites Show, Melissa Taylor shared numerous tips on speaking, from building a human connection while doing virtual speaking, to getting started as a speaker, to determining your speaker fee.  Below, I’ve shared some of the many tips she offered.  To hear all of her tips, listen to the podcast at https://skillbites.net/category/podcast/.

Melissa is known as a top strategic business consultant and mentor who shows businesses how to increase their impact and influence through networking, her signature Speaker League program and community, and her SCALE Mentoring.  She has built 3 solid, successful and profitable businesses and now she simply wants to share that experience with others.  

Effective speakers know they have to build a connection with their audience, which is more difficult to accomplish if speaking virtually.  Fortunately, there are still ways to build that connection.  If using Zoom, for instance, you can:

  • Use breakout rooms and have a trained facilitator in the room to lead a discussion;
  • Use a switcher board and have 2 or 3 cameras on you at different angles to keep it visually stimulating and interesting;
  • Engage with your audience through active participation such as with polls, playing games online with scores posted in real time, or Q&A sessions.

If you are seeking to build a speaking practice, Melissa advised that you begin by determining what problem you want to solve and for whom.  You’ll need to have a good website that contains such items as:

  • Your topics and what the audience will gain from each topic, 
  • Your bio and contact information, 
  • Testimonials if you have them, 
  • Possibly a speaker reel that shows you speaking, 
  • Your process, or what it’s like to work with you, and
  • Maybe some FAQs.

Next, find places that are seeking speakers, where your target audience is likely to attend.  The best place to start is with local associations.  Once you build a good reputation with local associations, it will be easier to obtain regional and then national speaking opportunities.  

Initially, it is more important that you gain experience speaking than to seek to charge for your presentations.  Once you get some good testimonials, you can start charging to speak.  Most promoters view speakers who are charging less than $1500 as not qualified.  When you get a call to speak, ask for referrals to other organizations.

A key component of speaking is monetizing the opportunity, which generally consists of having a call to action.  That could be offering a free consultation or a discounted price for a program, or an autographed copy of the speaker’s book.  The speaking opportunity should be leveraged to generate leads for the speaker to nurture, which can create significantly more value for the speaker in the long run than receiving a speaker fee.  Melissa advised not to wait until the very end of the presentation to raise your call to action, but to weave it into the presentation.  For instance, you can say “when we work with clients” or “in our program” or “as I explain in my book” to clue the audience in to what you can offer outside of the presentation.  

The calls to action that generate the most interest are typically low cost or free.  Think about what you can offer that is easy for you to provide and enticing to your audience.  You want to get your foot in the door so you can start to build a relationship.  You’ll need to have an automated system set up to provide the resource you are giving out and a nurturing campaign.  It is best to have only one call to action, and for it to be something tangible, such as a book or a downloadable file.  

The content that you are giving away during the speech and as a part of the offer should be outstanding and exceed their expectations.  If you think you should save your best content so you can charge for that later, you will get fewer leads.  Your content should impress the recipient, to have them think that they should hire you.  It is also better to go deep into one point than give a bird’s eye view of the landscape.

Melissa offered to SkillBites’ network a free registration to her 5 Day Challenge called “How to Pivot Your Organization”, which can be found at rodgerandmelissa.com/pivot.  She is also available to talk by calling her at 803-493-0552 or emailing her at hello@rodgerandmelissa.com.