The Untapped Marketing Resource

By Candace BelAir

Ever see that survey that lists the things Americans are most afraid of? Remember what tops the list? Not financial ruin. Not illness. Not even death. No.1 on the list of our most dreaded fears is PUBLIC SPEAKING (death, by the way, is No. 2).

Only a few short years ago, I too would have listed public speaking as my biggest fear. But over time, that’s dramatically changed. Now, I actually look forward to speaking in front of groups. Why? Because every time I speak, I GET BUSINESS.

Speaking is a highly effective tool for marketing yourself (IF you don’t fear it worse than death). Every time I speak at a Chamber of Commerce or Rotary, I generate enough business to last me for months. So, if you’re considering taking your message to the platform, let me share some of what I’ve learned along the way:

Speak as often as you can.

The more practice and exposure you get, the better. In the words of Barbara Jack, president of the Pacific Northwest Speakers Assn., “Speak anytime anywhere.” there are numerous professional organizations looking for experts to speak.

Speak about what you know best.

Business audiences want talks with take-home value. If you can give your speech a title such as “How to…,” or “What to do if…” you’ll be perceived as an expert giving “insider” information.

Customize your presentation.

Do your homework before you take the microphone. Tailor your talk to match your audience’s needs.

Arrive early.

Familiarize yourself with the room’s set-up: make sure your requests (e.g., an overhead projector, easel, glass of water, etc.) have been met.

Get to know your audience.

Before it’s time for you to speak, mingle with individual audience members. Then, when you’re on stage, you’ll spot familiar, friendly faces…far more reassuring than a crowd of anonymous strangers!

Interact with your audience.

Try to weave into your speech examples using individual audience members. This is a great way to “connect” with your audience. (Mingling beforehand will give you your material.)

Have a strong opening and a strong closing.

Your last words need to motivate. Ideally, after you finish, people will flock to you and say, “I want to know more about your services.”

Don’t overload your audience with information.

Find out how long you’ll be speaking, and practice your timing. If you try to squeeze too much information into too short a time, you’ll feel rushed and race through your talk.

All of us who speak – from the novice to the pro – can improve our presentation skills. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help.
Thousands of people with stage fright have joined Toastmasters Clubs to develop self-confidence at the podium. To find a meeting near you, call 624-6680.
I’m a member of the National Speakers ASSN, (NSA), which teaches not only the nuts-and-bolts of delivering speeches, but how to market yourself as well. Monthly meetings and the January Speakers Academy (a full day of workshops covering the do’s and don’ts of speaking) are open to the public.

One last telling observation: The most successful presenters are those who speak in order to HELP their audience. THAT ALONE is their mission. Keep this in mind and you’ll shine on the platform.

Latest Testimonial

“The feedback we received is that your presentation was the best part of our conference. You addressed exactly what we needed. Thank you so much for customizing your content for our audience.”
—Nancy DiFrancia, Director of Human Resources, Comcast

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You can reach Candace by phone
or email.

T: 425.670.8408

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