Tag Archives: public speaking

Talk Up Your Business: How to Get More Customers via Public Speaking

By Pam LontosPam Lontos

All business owners want more customers. The question is, how do you attract them? Advertising can be expensive, and traditional marketing techniques may take a long time to show results. Fortunately, there is another option.

Did you know that as a business owner or professional in your field, you are also an expert? And, did you know that people (a.k.a., potential customers) want to learn from your advice? That’s why it makes sense for you to share your knowledge by giving informative presentations on your area of expertise.

Before you let your self-doubt creep in and proclaim, “But I’m not a speaker!” rest assured that people aren’t expecting a high-tech motivational event. They don’t expect eloquence or even flamboyance. They simply want some targeted information that can help them improve their business or their life. And chances are, it’s the same information you tell people via phone or in one-to-one interactions every day. When you can deliver those bits of information to a larger audience, you can get more business. Here’s how to do it.

Hone in on your topic: Even though you may not aspire to be a professional speaker, if you’re going to market and brand yourself as an expert, you have to pinpoint some key speaking topics. To do so, think about the questions you commonly get from customers. Chances are those are great speaking topics.

For example …

  • If you have a gardening shop, you can talk about how to grow an organic garden in your backyard … or the best plants to grow for your geographic area … or tips for getting the most blooms from your plants.
  • If you own a dress shop, you can talk about how to dress for success … or ways to create a “mix and match” wardrobe … or the most flattering styles for various body types.
  • If you own a furniture store, you can talk about home staging ideas … or easy ways to spruce up the look of your home … or how to pinpoint your unique decorating style.
  • If you have a restaurant, you can talk about stocking a healthy pantry … or healthy eating tips … or do a cooking demonstration.

Whether you speak for free or get paid is not important. The idea is to get in front of your ideal buyer with some useful information. That’s how you get perceived as an expert. As legendary speaker Zig Ziglar used to say, “If you’re the one up there giving a speech, people automatically think you’re the expert.” All customers want to feel that they’re doing business with the best of best. Speaking puts you at that best of the best, expert level.

Go public! Next you need to decide where to do your presentations. Often you can have the speaking event right at your business location. If your store is small or not conducive to hosting a gathering, you could use a room at the local library or reserve a meeting room at a restaurant—both of which are relatively low-cost options. Also, look for local Meet Up group or clubs that attract your target audience, such as mom’s groups, yoga clubs, sewing circles, book clubs, or any other organized gathering of like-minded people. It’s common for these groups to bring in speakers a few times a year. If your message would resonate with a particular demographic, offer your speaking topic to the group.

If your topic is geared more for business to business customers, then investigate your local Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, and BNI Chapters. All of these organizations have regular weekly or monthly meetings where they bring in speakers from the community.

Finally, contact other local businesses that are complimentary to what you do and offer to speak to their customers. For example, if your company does pest extermination, contact a plant nursery and offer to do a seminar for their customers on environmentally friendly pesticides, thus introducing the pest extermination company to a new source of business. Think of other companies that are not direct competitors with you and whose customers would be a good match for your company.

Promote yourself. One of the best ways to increase the number of people who attend your speaking events is to promote it to your current customers. Make sure you get email addresses from your customers so you can email them a monthly newsletter, coupons, and announcements of your upcoming seminars. Also, post the event information on your social media channels, and put up signs around your business about the next presentation. If you’re not charging admission to the event, you may be able to put an announcement of it in the local news media under the Community Events or Community Happenings section.

Of course, email and social media can only get you so far when it comes to promoting your events. Studies show that each day, more than 294 billion emails get sent. The sheer amount of information people are being bombarded with is overwhelming. So while email and social media are great tools to reach people, if you really want to reach people, then you need to start using one of the oldest marketing tools available: the telephone. Have your employees call your customers and extend them a personal invitation to attend the speaking event. When you talk with someone rather than just send an email, you develop rapport and gain their attention faster than any email message ever could.

Speak Up! You want to be the company people think of first when they need what you offer. That’s called having Top of Mind Awareness, and public speaking helps you achieve that. When you gain that Top of Mind Awareness, you’ll have a leg up on your competition and will be perceived as the expert.

Ultimately, speaking about your industry knowledge is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to bring in new business. So don’t be shy! Get out there and market yourself as an expert/speaker. By doing so, you’ll stand out from the competition and reach new levels of professional success.

Pam Lontos is President of Pam Lontos Consulting. Pam consults with businesses, speakers, authors, and experts in the areas of marketing, publicity and speaking. Pam is a past Vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting where she raised sales 500% and she founded PR/PR Public Relations. She is the author of “I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow Your Fame, Wealth and Success.” She is also a former professional speaker. For more information on her consulting services, call 407-522-8630 or email PamLontos@gmail.com.

Improve Your Speaking Skills: Maximizing the Speaking Club Experience

By Walt GrasslWalt Grassl

Bob, a junior executive, wants to be better positioned for promotion. He and his peers present status updates regularly to management. While better organized and more knowledgeable about his assignments than his peers, his fear of speaking makes him nervous and unable to recall facts and data he knows cold when talking to colleagues one-on-one.

He has joined a speaking club to improve his skills, based on a suggestion by his supportive colleague, Jane, who delivers presentations confidently. The people who listen to her can tell she knows the details of her projects. However, after being in the club for two months, Bob was still feeling like a fish out of water.

Most people join speaking clubs to improve their public speaking skills. Unfortunately, just joining does not guarantee success. You have to speak. You have to learn from others, practice what you learn and get feedback.

Since many people who join speaking clubs have stage fright, they are reluctant to speak. The same causes of stage fright (self-image problems, perfectionism, self-consciousness, fear of embarrassment, improper breathing or not being able to remember what you are going to say) make club members reluctant to speak. The speaking club provides a safe environment to face these fears, if you are active and take advantage of the opportunities.

Bob went to see Jane in her office, asking if she had any suggestions to maximize his experience in the club. Jane gave Bob kudos for joining the club and suggested he take the following five steps to maximize his success with the club:

1. Speak often: Many new club members won’t speak until they feel their speech is perfect, which, in their minds, it never will be. So, they only speak when pressured. They may feel they will forget part of their speech, which they might, but they have to speak in order to find out or to learn to overcome that problem. Not speaking does not help them improve.

Club members are in the clubs to learn. You make your mistakes in the club, learn from them and improve so that you don’t make those mistakes in the workplace. The more often you speak, the faster you learn.

2. Listen to your evaluations and the evaluations of others: Feedback to speakers is one of the most valuable parts of the speaking club experience. However, your mindset when being evaluated is a critical key to your success.

Evaluators will give you opportunities for improvement. Don’t be offended by the feedback. Listen with an open, receiving mind. Instead of thinking that you did something wrong, embrace the feedback and focus on improving, even a little bit, in that area the next time you speak. If you are given multiple things to correct, don’t try to fix everything at once. Slow, steady and continuous improvement is the goal, not an overnight miracle.

3. Compete in contests: Most speaking clubs hold speech contests. Compete in every one. Whether the type of speech plays to your strengths or not, enter the contest and do the best you can. The purpose is not to win the contest, but to give your best speech to date. You will practice a contest speech more than a weekly club meeting speech, because the stakes are higher. If you do this over and over, you will see yourself advancing further and further each contest cycle, increasing your confidence and getting the opportunity to speak before progressively larger audiences.

4. Speak at other clubs: It is likely that your area has more than one of the speaker clubs that you belong to. Or, if you travel to an area that has a club, ask if you can speak as a guest speaker. Many clubs welcome outside speakers. It gives their members a chance to hear fresh speakers and it gives you the opportunity to speak in front of new faces: Win-win.

5. Record yourself: When you are given feedback, you think you know what you are doing. When you hear or, better yet, see yourself, you experience what your audience does. Remember, the purpose of the recording is feedback, not an award. An inexpensive digital camera is enough to see yourself and learn. If video is not an option, an audio recording is the next best thing.

Do you see what your evaluator pointed out as an opportunity to improve? Do you see something else? After several months, compare recordings from then and now. Seeing your progress will help motivate you to continue.

Maximize your speaking club experience: When you join a speaking club, don’t expect to get better by showing up and watching others speak. Learn, practice and perform. You will see slow, steady growth, limited only by how often you can speak.

Bob spoke often: at his club, at other clubs and at speech contests. He listened intently to evaluations of his speeches and the speeches of others. He recorded every speech and could see areas to improve and, more importantly, he saw his own improvement, which helped his confidence.

Six months after their conversation where Jane made her suggestions, Jane had the opportunity to see Bob make a presentation to management. She noticed his more confident and polished presence. Bob’s ability to present his work in a good light and to confidently communicate, led to his promotion nine months later.

Walt Grassl conquered his crippling fear of public speaking at the age of 50, and through his Internet radio show, “Stand Up and Speak Up,” he is determined to help others do the same. Walt’s accomplishments include success in Toastmasters International speech contests, performing standup comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas. He is also the author of the book “Stand Up and Speak Up”. For more information on Walt Grassl, please visit waltgrassl.com

Unlocking the Leader Within: Conquering Stage Fright

By Walt GrasslWalt Grassl

Next week Bob, a junior executive, has to present his team’s status to senior management. Whenever he even thinks about his presentation, his hands start shaking, his forehead starts sweating and his stomach starts dancing the jitterbug. Hes already had several sleepless nights, dreading the presentation. In desperation, he turns to his colleague, Jane, who he has seen deliver brilliant presentations. Bob asked Jane if she had discovered any tricks to unlock her inner leader.

Sadly, three out of four people suffer from stage fright. Potential leaders are silenced by their fear; great minds are avoiding leadership positions or are not fulfilling their full potential because they are unable to speak up. Possible causes of stage fright are self-image problems, perfectionism, self-consciousness, fear of embarrassment, improper breathing or not being able to remember what you are going to say.

If you are already a leader who is reluctant to speak or not good at it, overcoming stage fright will help you to inspire your team to follow your vision, explain how their tasks contribute to the big picture and persuade, not coerce, them to do the right things. If stage fright is keeping you from reaching your potential, it is never too late to free yourself by unlocking the leader within.

Jane, who, to Bob’s surprise, once suffered from severe stage fright as well, gave Bob the following five steps to help overcome his stage fright and unlock the leader within:

1. Change your mindset: Just because you couldn’t do something before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it now. Before you learned to walk, you couldn’t; before you learned to ride a bike, you couldn’t. For the most part, as people get older, they find it easier to say “I can’t” than to try to learn a new skill, then fall down and get up.

Realize that not everyone who is comfortable speaking to others was born that way. Is it easy? Perhaps not. But with the proper mindset, you are on the road to conquering your fear.

2. Take small steps: Now that Bob has realized that he can overcome his stage fright, he needs to take small steps towards improving his skills. The hardest part of any behavioral change is overcoming inertia. We naturally resist change. However, once we take a first small step, it becomes much easier to take the next small step. One popular small step to overcome stage fright is to join a speaking club. It is an inexpensive, yet extremely effective way to get comfortable with speaking.

3. Study. Practice. Perform. Many people fall into the trap of studying endlessly or attending conferences and training, expecting to magically get better without putting in the work. You cannot get better without practicing what you learn, and then using it in real-life situations. If Bob bought 20 books on golf and a set of golf clubs, then immediately tried to join the pro golf tour, people would think he was crazy! Instead, he should read, take lessons, practice, play small games and tournaments and repeat the cycle.

An easy way to practice is to speak for free at Rotary clubs, volunteer to emcee local charity events and give presentations at your local library or community center.

4. Invest in yourself: The next step in overcoming stage fright is realizing that conquering this fear is not an expense, but an investment… in yourself. Many people feel that spending any money on learning is the same as going to a movie or buying dessert: an indulgence. Improving yourself improves the quality of your life, as well as increases your ability to earn more money. Learn to feel comfortable investing in yourself.

5. Learn to be entertaining: Effective leaders manage people’s attention which requires some entertainment skills. In addition to speaking clubs, studying improv and stand-up comedy will help you learn to be in the moment and to get people to laugh – intentionally! The ability to make people laugh, as well as the ability to get comfortable speaking in public are learnable skills, not something most people are born with.

Unlock the Leader Within: When you change your mindset, begin to take small steps, learn-practice-perform, invest in yourself and learn to be entertaining, you will be more comfortable speaking. Then, when you have an important contribution to make to your work team, you won’t just sit there and silently go along because you were afraid to speak up. You will have the confidence to speak your mind, be heard and make a bigger contribution to the team.

Bob struggled through his first presentation, but some of the stress was relieved, because he was motivated by Jane, changed his mind-set and knew he could work to get better. A year later, Bob had to go before senior management again. He confidently reported his team’s status and when an audience member’s cell phone went off during the meeting, he was able to quickly make light of the distraction, the laughs increasing his connection with the audience. Bob received kudos from his boss for his presentation.

Walt Grassl conquered his crippling fear of public speaking at the age of 50, and through his Internet radio show, “Stand Up and Speak Up,” he is determined to help others do the same. Walt’s accomplishments include success in Toastmasters International speech contests, performing standup comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas. He is also the author of the book “Stand Up and Speak Up”. For more information on Walt Grassl, please visit waltgrassl.com.

An Expert Who Speaks or an Expert Speaker – Which is Best for Your Next Event?

By Joe Heaps & Dave ReedJoe Heaps and Dave Reed

When you need to bring in a speaker for your company or association event, you have two choices on the kind of presenter to hire: An expert who speaks or an expert speaker. While those two terms may seem similar, there’s actually a big difference.

An expert who speaks has real-life experience in relation to their topic. Because of this insider knowledge, they can confidently say, “I’ve done this and I’ll show you how to do it too.” In contrast, an expert speaker may have done research on their topic and may have a lot of book smarts, but they can’t offer a personal perspective. Even though the expert speaker is knowledgeable and perhaps eloquent, their main focus is “I’ve read about this.”

In most cases, hiring an expert who speaks is preferable to hiring an expert speaker because an expert who speaks will add power and focus to the event as they share their real-life experiences and compelling content. Additionally, because they’re so personally involved in their topic, they often stay-up-to-date on the current research, which means your attendees will get the best advice possible.

Since hiring the wrong speaker can cripple your event, here are a few steps to take to ensure you make the best decision possible.

Check the speaker’s background. Look for industry experience in the speaker’s bio. What did they do (or what are they still doing) in their life aside from speaking? For example, corporate speaker Scott McKain runs several multi-million dollar companies outside of his speaking business. So when he gives advice on how to grow an organization, people know that he speaks from experience—not from a textbook. If specific experience isn’t apparent in the speaker’s bio, don’t be afraid to ask a candidate specific questions about how they came to be an expert in the areas on which they speak. A true expert loves to share why they know so much. In fact, you’ll have a hard time getting them to stop talking!

Listen to the speaker’s stories. Watch a few of the speaker’s video clips or preview the candidate in person. Listen for stories where they share examples of things they were involved in, rather than only re-telling other’s stories. Experts who speak will include other’s research and experience in their material, but they will have a lot more of “my research shows…” and “When I did this…” Additionally, find out if the speaker has a compelling personal story. Many experts have a signature story or experience they share that has been polished to perfection and can help carry the message. This is not required to be an expert who speaks, but it’s a bonus.

Make sure the speaker goes beyond the “canned” presentation. An expert who speaks goes beyond what he or she thinks is relevant and focuses on what your audience deems relevant. So not only will the speaker get to know your attendees, but he or she will also tailor the presentation to your group’s needs. Unfortunately, many expert speakers don’t focus on the message the audience needs to hear. Rather, they give the same presentation to every group, regardless of the group’s dynamics or special circumstances. An expert who speaks may have some stock material, but he or she frames that material in a way that resonates with a particular audience.

Know what you really need. What kind of expertise are you looking for? Realize that the expertise you want from your speaker isn’t always technical or industry specific. For example, if you’re trying to get a group of banking professionals through a time of tough change, it may be better to bring in a change expert rather than a banking expert. Expertise in “change” can come from a variety of scenarios. Chad Hymas is a speaker who survived a horrific accident that left him a quadriplegic (talk about a major life change!). As a result, he has powerful insights on how to handle disruptive change and turn it into a positive. Often, you’ll find that the speaker’s personal life story can do as much to inspire your audience toward the goals of the meeting as the specific “how-to” oriented words they offer.

Don’t forget the “speak” part. Getting the world’s foremost expert in a particular topic could be a huge mistake if the speaker can’t deliver their knowledge in a way that engages your audience. Of course we’d all love to find the leading expert in the field who also happens to have incredible platform skills. But that’s a rare find. If you have to give something up, it’s usually safer to err in favor of speaking skills and give up some technical expertise. An engaging speaker with a little less technical knowledge is a better choice than someone with the deepest technical knowledge and a sleep-inducing delivery.

Your Expert is Waiting: Experts come in all flavors: Some speak, some are authors, some are CEOs or entrepreneurs, some have navigated a major life or business challenge, etc. However, just because someone calls him or herself an expert doesn’t mean that person is one. The title of “expert” is never self-proclaimed. Rather, it’s a descriptor bestowed on a person from outsiders. So always ask around and find out what others are really saying about a particular speaker you’re considering.

The expert who speaks that you want to hire will have good presentation and communication skills, provide compelling content, and share real-life experiences. When you make a conscious decision to hire an expert who speaks rather than an expert speaker, you’ll be bringing in someone who can engage your audience and carry the message with enough force to allow for real improvement in your attendees’ lives.

Joe Heaps and Dave Reed own eSpeakers.com, a 14-year-old technology and marketing company providing the speaking industry with the tools to do business online. Their newest product, eSpeakers Marketplace, launches summer 2013 and will be the largest directory of professional presenters available online. With real-time availability, verified reviews, online contracts and digital payment, putting the right speaker in front of your audience will be easy and safe. eSpeakers believes in helping meeting planners find the right speaker, with the right message… every time. For more information on eSpeakers Marketplace, contact Joe Heaps at jheaps@espeakers.com, 888-377-3214, or visit www.espeakers.com.

What Every Meeting Planner Must Know to Organize a Great Event

By Joe Heaps & Dave ReedJoe Heaps and Dave Reed

Whether you’re planning a large association’s annual conference or a smaller company’s quarterly sales meeting, you know how important it is to find the right speaker for your event. Sure, you can have a beautiful venue, great food, and an engaging theme, but your speaker sets the meeting’s tone. Hire a speaker who is a fit for your meeting and you can change the lives, thinking, or behavior of your attendees. Bring in the wrong speaker and your event will be lackluster at best.

The good news is that there are thousands of competent speakers eager to present to your audience. But therein lies the challenge for today’s meeting planners. How do you sift through the thousands of good speakers to find the one who’s the best match for your event? Following is a proven five-step process that will ensure you hire the right speaker for your next meeting.

1. Outline the content and goals for the event. During your pre-event planning meeting, as you decide the date, time, location, and theme of your event, make sure you and other stakeholders clearly define the desired content, goals, outcome of the meeting. Which groups of people will primarily be in attendance and what key messages do they want to hear? Why is the meeting being held? To educate? Motivate? Help attendees navigate a shift or industry change? Should the message be more inspirational or technical? And perhaps most important, what do you want your audience to feel, know, or think after this event? Make sure you get as detailed as possible during your planning phase, as that will help direct you to the best speaker.

2. Know your budget. Budget is a significant factor when choosing a speaker. So don’t even start your search until you know what you’re willing and able to pay. While many people think that only celebrity speakers ($30 thousand and up fee range) and high-fee speakers ($10 thousand and up fee range) have the experience to make an event successful, the fact is that there are many quality speakers with great content and delivery who charge significantly less. The key is to be honest about your budget so you don’t waste your time considering speakers you can’t afford.

3. Cast a large net. With your budget and desired content and goals in mind, it’s time to begin your search. All reputable speakers have web sites, and most have video samples on their site. Watch their demo videos or attend a local event if they’re speaking nearby, but don’t be too picky at this point. Don’t worry if you don’t like something about their delivery, if you think they’re too excitable, or if they seem to lack energy in their video clip. Remember that you’re seeing one snapshot of what they offer, so none of that is important yet. Simply make a list of six to ten speakers who appear to be good matches based on their topic expertise, their fee range, and their availability for your event date.

4. Start the narrowing process. With your pool of six to ten speakers in mind, you can begin narrowing your list. Now is the time to get nit-picky in your evaluation and elimination process. Compare each speaker to your stated goals for the event. Based on what you know about the speaker’s expertise, topic, and delivery style, can he/she deliver what you want? Also, check out the speaker’s social media networks to get a feel for how they interact with people and what their connections say about them. Finally, read verified reviews and testimonials about the speaker, but don’t rely solely on these reviews. No one is loved by all, and even the best speakers get some negative feedback at times.

5. Make your selection. At this point, two or three speakers will shine above the rest. To make the final decision, check a few references from each. Then, ask each speaker two important questions:

  • “Are you willing to provide our group with something extra in addition to the main presentation?” This extra could be coaching or consulting before or after the speaker’s presentation, a webinar or conference call for your participants, or anything else that would be of value for your attendees.
  • “Are you willing to offer a money-back guarantee if you fail to meet the stated goals for the presentation?” Many speakers are willing to offer a guarantee, and it tends to improve their performance when they have a little skin in the game. If you enact this option, be sure you outline in your contract the key goals you expect the speaker to deliver so there’s no discrepancy.

Analyze what the references say, as well as each speaker’s reply to your two final questions, and the speaker who will make your event a success will be clear. Hire that person right away!

The Right Speaker, Every Time: No matter what type of meeting you’re organizing, you need to hire a speaker who can deliver a message in a way that makes your attendees take action in some way. That’s a huge task to undertake, but it’s completely within your reach when you follow this simple five-step process. In fact, the more you use it, the easier your job will be, and all your events will be a resounding success.

Joe Heaps and Dave Reed own eSpeakers.com, a 14-year-old technology and marketing company providing the speaking industry with the tools to do business online. Their newest product, eSpeakers Marketplace, launches summer 2013 and will be the largest directory of professional presenters available online. With real-time availability, verified reviews, online contracts and digital payment, putting the right speaker in front of your audience will be easy and safe. eSpeakers believes in helping meeting planners find the right speaker, with the right message… every time. For more information on eSpeakers Marketplace, contact Joe Heaps at jheaps@espeakers.com, 888-377-3214, or visit www.espeakers.com.