Public speaking is a super power in the world of B2B.
And like Uncle Ben said…
It’s a super power because it’s a tried & tested communications tactic that has worked for years.
Since ancient times, people have used words, theatre and great storytelling to pass along messages that could inspire, educate, engage or entertain.
Yet, most B2B professionals blow their opportunity as a speaker and never generate business from their talks or panels. Why?
Because instead of focusing on their audience, they focus on their own agenda. We’ve all been to a presentation or at a conference where the speaker talks us through how great their company is and why their product is the best in the industry. AKA a total snorefest…
People want you to deliver value. But so many B2B professionals blow it when they get on stage. Don’t be one of them. Consider this:
If you give a one-hour presentation and there are 50 people in the room, you’re taking 50 hours of human life. That’s 50 hours that could have been spent with a loved one! Fifty hours that could have been spent learning something new! Fifty hours catching up on some much needed sleep. And that’s exactly why you should feel GUILTY if you do not make those hours count. Make the people who have decided (or have been forced) to spend an hour listening to your presentation feel as if it was worth it.
We’re talking about more than two days of life here folks…
That’s why I say with great power comes great responsibility.
It’s your responsibility to ensure that the time you have in front of the audience is time that you make count. But not just for the audience… You have to make it count for your own business as well. Over the last few years, I’ve closed projects worth over $50k after taking on speaking engagements and doing everything I could to deliver value to the audience. The key to this success can be broken into a few different elements:
1) Start By Identifying & Understand Your Audience
I don’t jump on every speaking gig I’m offered.
I’ve been privileged to speak all over the world in my career but more and more have I rejected certain opportunities. You see, I know which industries and to what audience I can deliver value to (and close). So if your audience doesn’t fall into the categories I’ve identified as a good-fit, it’s very likely that I’m going to have to pass on your event.
As you begin looking for speaking opportunities, it’s important that you consider opportunities and audiences that make sense for you. Start by understanding what projects you’ve taken on in the last few years and which of those you did really well and enjoyed. Further, spend time thinking about which industries you have the ability to stand out in and truly deliver quality insights to an audience.
You’re a graphic designer who has a passion for Real Estate. The first step for you is to find a list of real estate conferences and events. To do this, I would visit a site like Eventbrite and start my search with the keyword “Real Estate” or “Property Management”. From there, you will want to filter by event type and select: ‘Conference’ or ‘Seminar’ to ensure you’re not being met with a handful of different Open House tours.
From there, navigate through this list of events and find events being held four or more months from now. Any shorter than four months and you’re likely reaching out to organizers who already have their lineups locked in stone. Once you have identified the right event, it’s time to get in touch.
Here’s an example of an actual script I’ve used in the past to land a gig:
Hi Folks – This event looks awesome!
My name is [First Name + Last Name] and I’m a [Occupation] who has [list some accomplishments] and would love to share some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years with your attendees. I know you’ve probably already locked in a few of your speakers but I’d love to add my name to the list. I really think your audience would enjoy what I have to say and take a lot out of a session all about [your topic]. What do you say? I’d be willing to do this on the house!
If they write back interested, try to schedule a 15 minute call to ensure that they’re comfortable, the audience is a good size, good fit and go from there!
2) Invest In Designing & Creating A Great Presentation
It doesn’t matter if your presentation is 30 minutes or if you’re presenting to a room of 5 people.
I’m a believer that every B2B professional giving a presentation at a conference should invest in a quality deck. Your investment here can be (1) time or (2) money.
If you’re going to be investing time into creating your presentation, I’m going to share with you a few key tricks of the trade that have helped me.
- No font sizes smaller than 20 points
- Use powerful visuals on each slide
- Don’t include paragraphs on single slides
- Understand color contrasts
- Yellow on white doesn’t work
- No spinning transition slides or animations
- Don’t use clip art or corny visuals (cheesy yes, corny no)
- Don’t use the PowerPoint sound effects
If you’re going to invest in hiring a designer, I’d definitely recommend checking out sites like Dribbble or Behance to find someone or get in touch with me and I can be sure to get you connected to some of the folks who have helped design my Slideshare decks.
3) Use Case Studies To Show Value Through Examples (Not As A Pitch)
If you’ve been in the industry for a while and are not starting from scratch, it’s very likely that you have one or two case studies under your belt. Sharing case studies is a subtle way to convey that you have the chops to bring value to prospective clients rather than using your presentation as a chance to pitch them on your skills.
Rather than making the mistake of talking through the basic, Problem-Solution-Result model with your case studies – give your audience some actionable insights & takeaways that they can use.
Remember: It’s not all about you – It’s about arming your audience with insights that they can then use to realize (1) this is something they can do or (2) this is something they can hire you to help out with.
4) Follow Up. Follow Up. Follow Up.
Did I mention it’s important to follow up?
I’ve seen it too many times.
You shake someone’s hand, they ask for a business card (which you shouldn’t do until you actually have a relationship with someone) and then two days later you realize that you’ve been added to their newsletter mailing list.
Don’t do this.
Instead, build a real relationship with people at the conference. For me, I know that I don’t have a great memory and if I meet 30 people in one day, it’s going to be impossible to keep track. So, one thing that I’ve recently found helpful is emailing myself immediately after I meet someone with a quick blurb about the conversation we had, their name and the company they work for. If I tell someone that I’ll share a resource after the conference – I include that reminder in the email to myself to make sure I do it as well.
Wrapping Things Up
This is just one of the many ways to land gigs that don’t include referrals.
Content marketing is another great approach for freelancers looking to build their client base without referrals. The key when taking that approach is again to ensure that you’re creating content that your audience really wants. It’s one of the many content marketing mistakes that I see both brands and freelancers alike make. Sure, it’s a simple idea but it’s one that many people overlook on their quest to reinvent the wheel.
When it comes to public speaking and using it to drive business, this isn’t rocket science either. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can take inspiration from some of the great orators of our time and study their approach to storytelling through sites like YouTube. It’s never been easier to learn how to deliver a great presentation and I’m confident that if you’re looking to generate business and can follow these steps, you will have a chance to do exactly that.