|The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “How to Market Your Business with Public Speaking”. For more information please visit www.sba.gov.
Are you looking for a way to attract new customers, meet potential prospects and partners, and become known as an expert in your industry? Public speaking can do all of the above, and more.
If you feel like public speaking isn’t even an option for you because you’re shy, think again. I’m shy myself, though you wouldn’t know it to see me addressing conferences, crowds and audiences all over the country. Trust me, public speaking gets easier with practice—and it’s worth the effort.
Toastmasters is a great, free organization that can help you get comfortable speaking in front of a group. You can also try simply having a friend record you speaking and play it back so they can give you an honest critique of your speech patterns, body language and delivery. Finally, try breaking into public speaking with a less intimidating situation, like being on a panel discussion (where you’re not the focus of attention).
When you’re starting out in public speaking, it’s best to think small. Fortunately, speaking in front of small groups like the local PTA or business leads club can have huge benefits for your business.
Begin by figuring out what market you want to reach. For example, if you own a landscaping business, you might want to attract residential clients or owners of commercial facilities that need landscaping.
Next, determine where those customers are likely to be found. In the example above, you could speak to homeowners’ associations or gardening clubs if you’re trying to attract residential customers; for the commercial facilities, you could find landlord organizations and speak to those groups.
Figure out what type of subject matter will both be relevant to your target customers and also serve your business. For instance, the landscaper could speak to residential customers about choosing the right kinds of plants for different seasons, how to keep your home fire-safe with landscaping or how to prevent pests. For the commercial facilities you could talk about trends in landscaping or how to increase curb appeal. You want to talk about things that your business is able to provide for them, so there’s a natural tie-in between what you talk about and what you can do.
Promote the event. Use press releases, email marketing, your website and social media to let the local community know about the event. Depending on the venue, you may want to alert local media as well. (Perhaps you can even offer to write an article on the topic you’re speaking about, garnering even more publicity.)
Gather information about attendees. Have attendees sign up with their names, addresses and emails as part of registering for the event, or just make a sign-up sheet available at the event for people who want to get mailings or email newsletters from you. You could also do the classic “business card in a fishbowl” drawing and collect business cards in return for giving away a prize (like a free landscaping consultation).
Give away information. Handouts, brochures, checklists or other free information about both the topic you’re discussing and your business give people something to hang on to and remember you by. This is also perceived as adding value to your speech.
Follow up. Don’t be pushy, but do follow up after the event with attendees who’ve indicated interest in learning more or receiving communications from your business.
Keep it up. The more often you speak in public, the more confident you’ll grow, until eventually you may find public speaking to be one of your most successful methods of getting new business.