Public Speaking – Part I

Public Speaking: One Pathway to a More Profitable Business

(Part One of a Two-Part Series)

A podium with a microphone.Wouldn’t you love to demonstrate your knowledge and skill before a captive audience of potential clients? Doing so can build your client roster, get you lots of free publicity, and, possibly, score you some pocket change.Public speaking, while intimidating to some, can be another pathway to a more profitable business. But there are some things you should remember in order to make your speaking engagements compelling enough to secure new clients. Here are four of them.

1. Picking a Speaking VenueYou’d be surprised at how many speaking opportunities exist in your area. You’ll want to pick local venues where you can capture your target market. Promote yourself on your website and/or blog, making people aware of this new “service” you offer. Many organizations are looking for individuals to speak during lunch or dinner meetings, for trade associations, professional societies, or civic, community, and business groups. Look for events intended for the small business owner. You’ll find that once you give a few speeches, your name will become familiar and you’ll get invited to speak more and more. And at each event you’ll have a captive audience becoming familiar with your name and the services you offer.2. Picking a TopicThe topic must be related to the services you provide. This is a great opportunity to provide the audience with useful information while demonstrating your accounting expertise. As you prepare your speech, do a little research on your audience. What information would they appreciate? How could you appeal to them and perhaps relate to their common concerns? And lastly, it’s important to realize that you’re not being asked to perform an infomercial, so avoid droning on and on about your business.3. Delivering Your SpeechFor many of us, this is the tricky part. Some are deathly afraid of public speaking, but there are ways you can remedy that and next week we’ll discuss some important tips on managing your nerves and delivering an outstanding speech. For now it’s important to note that no one scheduled you expecting a standup comedian, so don’t feel obligated to keep your audience rolling in the aisles. Focus on relaxing and being yourself. The best thing you could do is project a friendly, approachable demeanor that will resonate with your audience and help them remember your name and the services you offer.4. Selling Your BusinessRemember how we told you that your speech is not an infomercial? While you should mention your name and specialty within your speech, you should avoid turning it into your own personal marketing platform. But bring plenty of business cards and stick around long enough to chat with members of the audience. Be gracious, answer their questions, and request their business cards in return. All those in attendance are potential clients or may refer potential clients your way. Another good way to be remembered is in giving everyone a handout that includes the main points from your speech as well as your contact information.

While public speaking can be a little intimidating, after your first few appearances you’ll find yourself become more comfortable with the attention; the practice will help you improve your delivery and in the end you’ll find that the number of people you’re contacting is well worth a bad case of nerves.Come back next week when we’ll be discussing “Public Speaking: How to Make an Impact.”