Why a Speech is Not a Speech (continued)
heard it all, so you must stretch to keep them from scurrying for the exits.
You’re not putting on a Broadway musical, but the audience members won’t
find out what you can do for them if you don’t command their attention.
Avoid fact-intensive presentations. Business people tend to give
audiences more statistics than they can absorb. Limit statistics to a few
high-impact facts and figures that breathe life into your message.
Best practices are passé. Audiences want to hear about innovative
approaches, cutting-edge ideas and techniques they haven’t tried, not the
warmed over “best practices” of yesteryear. When explaining a new solution
or idea, point out potential benefits and risks but encourage your
audiences to think creatively.
Your speech is not a commercial. Sell your ideas and know-how, not
your company. You can present one slide of your qualifications, but that’s
it. Let the person who introduces you blow your horn. Audiences turn off
as soon as you start advertising, so avoid it until the end of your
It’s about value. Audiences appreciate hearing about tools, processes
or systems that will help them solve their problems. Give them solutions
that they can apply right away. Usable solutions should be a prominent
feature of your presentations. Translate your knowledge and experience
into understandable and actionable steps for your audience.
Once upon a Time So much has been written about including stories and
humor in speeches that you’d think we’d all be master storytellers by now.
Sadly, we are not. Yet stories are critical to connecting with your
audience. Grady Jim Robinson, premier storyteller and author of Did I
Ever Tell You about the Time, advises speakers to use personal stories
that “contain just enough self-revelation that your audience will begin to
feel comfortable with you, understand a bit of your past history, and
sense where you are coming from.” If you can effectively weave a story and
a little humor around your core message, it will resonate with audiences
and stick with them.
Spread the Word
As the date for your speech gets close, publicize your
appearance by alerting your clients, inviting peers, potential clients and
the media. Request passes for your guests from the event sponsors. Highlight
your speech on your Web site and in other publications.
Plan your schedule so you can spend time at the event
itself, not just to deliver your speech but to take part in the event.
Attend as much of the event as you can, including
receptions, dinners, exhibits and other presentations. Find out what issues
concern attendees, your peers and the other speakers. Ask their opinions and
discuss possible solutions. Listen and learn.
Plan to give your audience extras: survey results, white
papers, recommended reading lists, how-to articles, and Web site addresses
that are relevant to your topic. Don’t give attendees souvenirs or
trinkets—give them something useful. Include your contact information, but
don’t hold the materials hostage by requiring recipients to give you their
business cards or other information to obtain them.
Many speakers leave events as soon as they’ve given their
speeches. But in doing so, they lose valuable marketing opportunities. And,
occasionally, a scheduled speaker cancels unexpectedly. If you’re still
around, the sponsors might ask you to step in, which will win their
gratitude and gain you more visibility.
After your presentation, answer any questions and swap
contact information with attendees. Be generous with your time. If you don’t
have the time or the information to answer a question, make arrangements to
do so later.
Within two or three days after your speech, send
handwritten notes to event planners and key members of the host organization
thanking them for their hospitality and the opportunity to speak. Try to
personalize each note.
Call the people who asked you to contact them regarding
their business or to answer deferred questions. Strike quickly, while
memories of the event are still fresh. Plan how to regularly keep in touch
with both the attendees and those who hired you to speak.
Viewed as a marketing process instead of a one-hour
session, public speaking can become a workhorse of your marketing program.
And given that 75% of speakers hired today are industry experts, now is the
time to add speaking to your marketing program. So, take advantage of the
opportunity, but heed the speechmaking advice given by Franklin D.
Roosevelt: “Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”
Jay Conrad Levinson and Michael W.
McLaughlin are the authors of
Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants. Jay is the chairman of
Guerrilla Marketing International, a consulting firm serving large and small
businesses worldwide and is the creator of the Guerrilla series, which is
the best-selling marketing series ever published. Michael is a principal
with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and has over twenty years of consulting
experience with clients in businesses of every size, from small start-ups to
some of the world’s highest-profile companies. He is also the editor of
Management Consulting News. For more information, visit
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