We just wrapped up our second speaking engagement of the year and have so many tips and tricks to share with you! We learned so much in the process of planning and scheduling the event, picking a topic, preparing our presentation, speaking in front of a crowd and following up with attendees. Getting in front of a crowd doesn’t have to be scary and you can make the event work to your benefit with a few key details.
MAKE SURE IT’S THE RIGHT AUDIENCE
The idea of speaking in front of an audience can be thrilling or scary but it can make a great impact on your business. It might be easy to say “yes” to little gigs here and there just to get practice and experience, but take the extra time to research the attendees. Remember that you will be spending a lot of time researching, preparing, planning and executing your speaking event so be sure that you will be speaking to your target audience.
Ask the coordinator who is in charge of the event to let you know the type of people who will be in attendance. Ask them key questions that will give you insight to see if you are a good fit for them and visa versa. By making sure that you’re both a good fit you will not only be able to provide excellent content that resonates with the attendees but you could also walk away with amazing connections, collaborations or clients!
TARGET YOUR CONTENT TO YOUR CROWD
Even though the audience might be a fit for you there still might be some tweaks you need to make to your content. Usually speaking engagements are in front of a pretty niche crowd so figure out what makes this audience different and see how you can tailor your content just a bit to speak directly to them.
Taking the time to figure out what specific needs this audience has allows you to get more detailed in your presentation. You want to always make sure that you’re not speaking above your audience's knowledge base, but also provide a presentation that adds value.
LET THEM KNOW HOW YOU CAN HELP
Even though your presentation shouldn’t be an hour long sales pitch you should still use this opportunity to showcase your talents. Even as you educate, inspire and provide value you can always tie this back into what you do professionally and how they can hire or buy from you. Let them know that you are the expert in the room. Not only will your audience be confident in listening and learning from you, but they will be intrigued to reach out to you afterwards.
If simply stating that you’re available for hire doesn’t feel right you could always use your own client testimonials or their journeys to make your point. We love sharing the results of our own clients in our presentations so our audience knows what we do and that we’re good at it!
This could be slightly dependent on your audience or topic, but sharing your own journey can really hit home with a lot of people. We all have our unique stories in getting to where we are and the paths that took us there. By opening up and sharing bits and pieces of this journey can resonate with your audience and open them up to relate to you on a personal level. Our presentations can get really personal. We love sharing our growth in numbers, our client relationships, the progress of our efforts and even the things we’ve tried that failed.
Try looking deep into the under layers of your topic. Peel back the information you’re sharing and ask yourself why or how? Why do you do what you do? How does what you teach or speak on change lives? Dig deep here and get a little bit vulnerable. Audiences love to see the personal side of everyone’s journey.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Once you’ve researched, planned and prepared for your speaking engagement it’s time to practice! We all remember how boring those presentations in school or old work events where the speaker just stared at their slides and read directly from them. You can do better! Try reading your notes aloud or to a close friend. This will help you speak more naturally and with a comfortable tone (just like you speak to your friends!).
Try walking around the room reading your notes and take note of your body movements. Do you move around too much or stay in one place? Do you wave your hands all around or clutch your notes too tight? Do you stare at the floor or can you practice scanning the room? The more you test the complete experience the better experience you’ll be able to provide.
OPEN UP THE FLOOR
One of our favorite parts of our presentation is when we can open to floor to questions. This is when you really get to know what’s on the mind of your audience and be there to help. No matter how detailed your presentation was there will always be pieces that are confusing or specific scenarios that your audience will want to work through. By saving time in your presentation for even just 10 minutes of Q & A you’ll be able to provide customized value that your audience will love.
Even if you’re not looking to get clients or customers from your presentation it would add so much value to the attendees if there’s a way they can reach out to you even after the event. There might be questions that come up once attendees get a chance to digest everything you shared so set up a way for them approach you. You could offer to answer questions via email, have them sign up for your newsletter or even send them details of your presentation so they can go over it on their own time.
If you get the opportunity to speak in front of an audience we urge you to consider it! The chance to get in-person with your target audience is so valuable for your community and you. Taking your business from online to in-person does wonders on your engagement and community collaboration opportunities.