More than three years ago, I decided to go on the speaking circuit to see if I could drum up some business.
The first year sucked.
I did 40 speaking engagements—some free and some paid—but not one brought us any business. I got high scores and great feedback, but the business didn’t come.
You see, I’m not a salesperson. I don’t get on stage and talk about how great my company is. Instead, I deliver speeches that mean something to the audience. If someone doesn’t walk away with at least three actionable items from a one-hour presentation, I feel like I didn’t do my job as a speaker.
I thought that was enough to drum up some business this way, but I was wrong.
I scaled back last year and only did 24 speaking engagements, but guess what happened? We gained clients for Arment Dietrich from them.
I’ve been thinking about why that is, and I’ve come up with seven ways for you to gain business from your speaking engagements.
1. Don’t spend time on your bio.
No one cares about your bio. In fact, when people ask me how I want them to introduce me, I always say, “Set the expectations low so I can over-deliver.” That always gets a chuckle, but it’s true. People will get a good sense of who you are and where your expertise lies without hearing someone drone on and on about you.
You don’t need the introducer to say anything more than your name, where you work, and one—just one—thing you’re working on. Right now, I have the person mention my forthcoming book. The person introduces me within 30 seconds, and I can take the stage.
2. Use relevant case studies.
You want to use case studies that are relevant to the audience. For instance, this weekend I will speak at the Retail Packaging Association trade show. I’ve discovered that, of the hundreds of attendees, only five use social media.
I created case studies on what these five people do really well so their peers can learn from them. Not only will that make them heroes of the conference, they’ll be more inclined to want to work with us when they need some help.
3. Use your own case studies.
While you want to make sure most of the case studies you use are relevant to the audience, I’ve found it draws a lot of attention when I talk about results we’ve seen for Spin Sucks. This is because I have access to the analytics and can show real results that are meaningful to my audiences.
I have one slide I use in every presentation that shows how I link to a Spin Sucks Pro product in a blog post, the in-page analytics from Google, and the ecommerce. This shows them how I talk about a product in a blog post, how many people clicked on the link, and how many of those clicks turned into sales.
People love this. It demonstrates the kind of work I could do for them without having to sell it.
4. Get the audience involved.
I like to ask the audience to stand up, and then ask them to sit down if they don’t use certain social networks. I start out with Facebook, then move to LinkedIn and Twitter. I continue to drill down until there is only one person standing. That person becomes my teacher’s pet, and I say so by using his or her name (see No. 5) throughout the rest of my presentation.
This is also the person I call on when I’m not sure of an answer: “George, how would you answer Cindy’s question?”
5. Use people’s names.
I like settings with table tents because I can see the names of more people than just those sitting in the front row. If you call on people by name, they’ll remember you after you leave. If there is a large audience, get off the stage and walk around. Look at people’s nametags and talk specifically to them.
6. Leave something behind.
Give the audience something to take home so people can have your contact information and not have to hunt for it. If you give audience members something of value—I always leave them with an eBook they would otherwise have to pay for—they’ll feel like they got a lot out of your presentation.
7. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.
See if the people running the conference will give you a list of attendees. If they won’t, tell the audience you’d love to send them something—it can be a keychain, flash drive, eBook or link to a webinar—and ask them to leave their business cards.
You can also have a giveaway during your presentation and ask people to enter by dropping their cards in a bowl on the stage.
Or you can simply say, “If you’d like to join our newsletter (or blog) list, leave me your card and I’ll make sure it happens.” Of course, make sure you abide by the CAN SPAM Act when you do this.
There are an infinite number of things you can do to gain business on the speaking circuit, but this list gives you a good start. What are your ideas?