Speaking For Your Brand Part 2
Preparing For Your Next Public Speaking Engagement
Public speaking is an essential business activity that some people love and others love to avoid. With practice and the right tools and techniques, the advantages to speaking to the right audiences will have a tremendous impact on your business and your brand. For many, speaking is the most terrifying activity that they can attempt to do for their brand. There are many strategies for overcoming fear and nervousness. For me it is confidence. When I get a speaking engagement, I make sure that I know my material cold; I practice. I always know who my audience is and I am prepared in case there is an unexpected technical or other issue. I arrive early at the venue. This allows me to relax, get a feel for a room, greet people as they come in and check, and double check all technology (AV, computers, Power Point, WiFi, power, etc.).
The following are questions and tips that will help you present better and make a memorable impression on your audience:
Do I know exactly what my message is for my presentation?
The more you practice, the more self-confident you will feel in front of your audience. Make an outline of the topics you want to cover and review it multiple times. Once you know exactly what messages you want to communicate and in what order, you can create your presentation. Being organized is key. It is also critical to know your audience, research the group and the people in it. For a small group I look at each individual’s LinkedIn profile. If you are familiar with the people in your audience you will feel more confident and comfortable. When you are comfortable your presentation will be better and your appeal to the audience will be enhanced.
I have adopted several ways to encourage my audiences to participate during my presentations. For example, you can ask questions now and then or give the audience the option of live Tweeting or texting questions and comments to you. Asking questions and getting people to raise their hands creates action/movement and this sustains the energy level and it lets you know if people are listening. Personally, I like to ask someone from the audience to join me on stage. It is especially entertaining to put one of the most well-known people in the room on the spot. On the spot does not mean to embarrass them; it means to let them show their knowledge and have fun too. These actions will energize the event and keep the audience engaged. People tend to focus the most at the beginning and at the end of a presentation, so use techniques like these 20 or 30 minutes into an engagement to recapture attention.
How will I capitalize on this speaking opportunity?
We know that speaking is a tool to project your brand message and expertise. It is also an opportunity to develop leads for business or referrals. Preparing for speaking engagements takes time; you need to capitalize on this time and the time you spend at the event. Make sure that you develop a way to generate opportunities and build your following. Offer people your Power Point, a free consultation and/or a free product or book. I give a free personal branding makeover to one person in every audience I address. Make sure to get a list of all the attendees and group members. When you are speaking for free make it mandatory that the group give you the list of members. This is a fair trade for your time and energy. Create a repeatable system for communicating with people who attend your events. Add attendees names to your database for future marketing.
What is my emergency plan if there are any technological difficulties?
Always expect the unexpected. Technology can be a great addition to a presentation, but you should never rely on it. Always have a hard copy of your Power Point and outline for your presentation. Eventually, there will be an occasion when the computer, projector or other technology fails. This is another reason why preparation is so important. You should always be ready to present and speak without the crutch of technology.
Your brand – live it and love it. Talk about subjects that you are passionate about. The enthusiasm and energy you display on stage will affect the interest level of your audience. It will also help build your brand and reputation. People will remember your speech and associate you as an expert in that field especially when you are poised, well-informed, entertaining and personable. They will want to listen to you and find out why you are so passionate. Your attitude and body language will demonstrate that there is something to gain from listening to you.
Am I funny and do my stories connect?
Funny and entertaining stories can be used as examples and provide details that your audience can relate to on a personal level. However, if being humorous doesn’t come naturally, don’t try too hard to make everyone laugh. When people see a genuine speaker in front of them, they will feel more comfortable and intrigued. Practice humor and stories and see what reaction you get from others. Timing, cadence and how stories are told can be practiced and this can help when you are seeking to interject humor. Watch comedians that you like, especially those who are storytellers. You can learn a great deal from them. Remember to relate stories that make a point and are appropriate for the situation. Personal stories offered at the beginning of a presentation often help speakers make a direct or emotional connection with audiences.
How will I use my presentation after the event?
Every presentation should be used again after the initial event. There are several ways to do this. I strongly recommend recording on video to see where you can make improvements in your delivery. Video clips can be used as social media content and can and should be intermixed with your blog posts. Full length videos can be used as educational and marketing tools and can help you to get media interviews. Quality pieces can even be sold as training courses. Make sure you have a top-quality microphone and that your camera is properly placed. There is nothing worse than recording an area of the stage where there is nothing going on; make sure you are in the shot.
Public speaking to enhance your brand recognition is a critical part of business growth and attracting attention. Speaking on topics you are both knowledgeable and passionate about. Remember it is not about you it is about what the audience wants. Use your talents, skills and personality to convey your message. Don’t trust technology and watch the humor. With this recipe you will be on your way to successfully growing your personal brand and business.