How to Turn a Service Club Talk into a Marketing Opportunity

Speaking before a group about your business is definitely the lowest cost and best way to market your product or service and expand your customer base.  From first hand experience I learned this important marketing lesson. I started talking about my hair styling business at local service organizations, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimists. At the time I didn’t have much public speaking experience beyond Dale Carnegie courses and Toastmasters. Little did I know it would lead to a rewarding career as an executive speech coach and keynote speaker. Here are some key points I learned that helped me build my business.

Expressing yourself with flair will increase the speed with which you succeed.

Peter Butler is an excellent example of how to increase your reputation and visibility by speaking. Peter was in the insurance and financial services industry. When he passed his fiftieth birthday, he decided to start running in Iron Man triathlons and other athletic events around the country.

He gave lively talks at service clubs about his experiences. Peter starts by saying, “Running a marathon is like planning for your future.” Then he told  colorful stories about the different events he had participated in. Finally he said, “For my last few minutes,  here are four ideas you should know about planning for your long-term future.”

Notice that his speech is not a sales presentation-yet it actually is. The audience starts out knowing all about his business credentials because the club official who introduces him has read them from an introduction that Peter provided. (This is standard procedure for all speakers.) Then Peter’s introductory remark related his business (preparing for the future financially) to his topic (preparing for a marathon). His final minutes were his philosophy. He was tremendously effective, and people stood in line afterwards to get his business card.

Visibility is necessary for success in almost any business…

My executive speech coaching client Michael Sipe brought home to me the tremendous difference between building a business vs. having a job working for yourself. Mike is a mergers and acquisitions specialist, arranging and negotiating the sale of (you guessed it) businesses. One of his clients was Bob. His example was so vivid his audience could totally relate to both Bob and Mike. They understood that having all your contacts and strategies in your head would never make your business saleable.

Check out the Room:
Being prepared is a key to presenting a good talk. It’s a comfort knowing that the lights, the microphone,  and the projector are working and, more importantly, that you know how to work with them.

Go to the room where you will be speaking earlier than everybody else. Imagine yourself a success. Get comfortable on the stage. Test the microphone. Are your notes in order? You may not be a professional speaker, but struggling with audio/visual equipment just distracts and annoys your audience. You want them on your side.

Presenting your Talk:
Do not read your speech. Take your key points in 20-24 point type you keep on the lectern or table on the podium. I urge you not to stand behind the lectern throughout your entire talk. It puts a barrier between you and the audience and they feel it. However, if you feel more secure standing behind the lectern, do not lean on it.

The Introduction:
Write your own introduction. Use your resume as a guide, but customize it to fit the topic on which you’re speaking. Do not include your job as a life guard in your intro unless it directly relates to your subject.

Develop a page detailing your key points. Or if you’ve had an article published, make copies for the audience members. Make sure that the handout includes your name, email and telephone number.

Business Cards:
If your goal is to develop business contacts, always collect business cards from the audience members. You can offer to send additional information, articles or tip sheets to them. Or you can offer a door prize (this can be a product you sell or certificate for service–a free evaluation of financial status, etc.); ask that everyone drop their business cards in a box from which you or the program chair will draw the winner (or winners) at the end of your talk. The business cards give you prospects with whom you can follow up later.

Patricia Fripp speaking at Million Dollar Roundtable 2012
Patricia Fripp speaking at Million Dollar Roundtable 2012

Just Do It!
Speaking before a group of strangers can be intimidating, but keep focused on the positive impact the presentation will have on your business reputation and your bottom line. Don’t expect to be a magnificent speaker the first time out. Your goal is to present the most valuable information possible to the members of the audience. Think of it as the beginning of many long-term relationships.
Go on–step up on the podium and profit from the experience.

If you need learning materials on how to create a speech keynote speaker and Patricia Fripp can help you.

Next speaking conference is Lady and the Champs 2012

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