Of course there are many professional speakers out in cyberspace who speak to hundreds, if not thousands at a time and manage to motivate and cultivate success on a grand scale.
I admire them, and follow them avidly as they are my heroes: people in the UK like Kriss Akabusi, Nigel Risner, Rikki Arundel, Alan Stevens, all of whom and more have b*lls like you wouldn’t believe because their messages are so strong. Well, not Rikki’s because she’s a lady, but you know what I mean.
Public speaking now is as much about local gigs – as it is sessions for hundreds
Yes, of course speakers like I mention above are doing great things.
But in the main those tend to be commissioned by major corporates to be given to the audiences of major corporates.
What about talks that inform, inspire and uplift smaller businesses, smaller localities, smaller business communities?
Given that these are talks that we listen to and learn from on a day-to-day basis in our business networking, it’s worth developing two trains of thought here.
Talks about business: information sharing
If you get involved with local or regional business networking groups, there are likely to be ample opportunities to do a 10-minute or 20-minute talk. Ostensibly such talks normally are about your business, but the reality is that they aren’t.
What they are not, is an opportunity to sell: that does nothing more than p*ss most audience members off.
What they are, is the opportunity to share some knowledge that is enough to give the audience something worthwhile to take away, without giving away your entire product or service proposition. (Hardly difficult if you only have 10 or 20 minutes to speak, anyway.)
Talks about business: motivation and inspiration
You may not have a specific product or service to sell: like many of us, you maybe a motivator or an inspirationist (Dictionary.com thinks that’s a new word, so let it be said that it first appeared here on #HTWB!)
Whatever – but you may have ideas, concepts, notions and other thoughts that can rouse people’s enthusiasm by tweaking their awareness not only of what is working for them now, but also what could work for them in the future if they open their minds to fresher thinking.
Putting those often complex thoughts into words isn’t easy, but once you can the results will give you a edge over your competitors as a speaker not only at ordinary business networking events, but also at longer business workshops, seminars, etc.
The key point? Write, write, write your ideas down and refine them in writing until you’re satisfied with them.
So how do we maximise these talking opportunities, and what to write for them?
1. Understand what your target audience wants, needs, and is kept awake by at night. Tailor your content to all of that.
2. Resist all temptations to turn your talk into an advert. If you don’t, your credibility will go down the toilet. Forget all advertising’y words, phrases and thoughts.
3. Don’t discourage but-ins and questions as you go along. Much as such interruptions may take you over your allotted time, they show that your audience is thinking about what you’re saying, which is priceless. Use those interruptions, answer them, then move on swiftly.
4. If people have started interacting with your talk in #3 above, this can roll on quietly into your Question & Answer session (for which time should be allotted by the organisers, so allowing more time.) If this works out, you’re lucky!
5. If there are others in the room who are competitors and/or complementary professionals, invite their views into your talk. Far from taking attention away from your offering, this will establish you as the thought leader on your topic with them as parallel experts.
6. As appropriate, write, print and circulate a handout that encapsulates your talk (not just your PowerPoint slides!) … something that builds on what you have said in your talk and that will encourage audience members to enquire further into what you can do for them.
How do you best use the talking opportunities in your business community?
NB: if you need some further guidance on how to write speeches and talks that really work for you, check this option out now…