We previously covered why public speaking is an effective PR tool for your small business—but we didn’t tell you how to do it.
From scheduling events, to finding the right topic, to delivering the presentation, there’s a lot to think about when you stand in front of an audience. The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is public-speaking engagements are soft sells—they’re not blatant advertisements for your company’s products or services.
To get you on the right path, we gathered some tips from small business owners who already use public speaking as a sales and marketing tool. Here’s the advice they shared:
On Landing Gigs
“First, figure out what you know that is easiest to share. Then assess if this knowledge is needed by a wide group of business owners. Write a summary of the presentation, including outcome for attendees, technology required and what you will do to assist the presenting partner in marketing the event. Then set up an appointment with the organization to share your thoughts.” – Cheryl Smithem, Strategic Marketing & Charleston PR, Charleston, S.C.
“I’ve sought out opportunities by searching online; letting my business contacts know that I’m available to speak; and created events that would give me the chance to talk. All these strategies have worked.” – Susan Barry, Hive Marketing, Atlanta
“Prepare a good presentation and don’t take for granted that it will be easy to talk in front of a small group. When I’ve gone in well-prepared, my pose and finesse have impressed listeners enough to hire me.” – Andra Watkins, Positus consulting LLC, Charleston, S.C.
“Polish your skills by practicing: You must be good on the platform. If you are a boring speaker, people will not be inspired to hire you. As a bonus, if you do well, others will approach you to speak at their organization as well.” – Diane DiResta, DiResta Communications, New York City
On Keeping It a Soft Sell
“Above all, a business presentation must be informative. Audience members need to leave the event with a practical deliverable they can immediately apply to their business. Presentations which exclusively hint at solutions that can only be accessed ‘once you pay me to help you’ are nothing but advertisements. They destroy credibility and are worse than not doing presentations at all.” – Ellen Huxtable, Advantage Business, Batavia, Ill.
“Our small business held a local support group regarding weight loss. We had 31 attendees and expected to sell maybe four to five bottles of our [weight-loss] product, since the invitations stated no purchase was required and the event had absolutely no obligations. Instead, we sold 21 bottles and found out they would attend subsequent support group meetings.” – Eric Cawley, AmericasHCG, Meridian, Idaho