A lovely older woman I know asked me to attend an event to see a nationally renowned Congresswoman. She didn’t say why, just asked me to come and who I could bring. I know the ropes, it’s actually a pep rally to get a group of people excited about the upcoming election. But none of that was discussed. Reminded me of an Amway pitch-I once was suckered into doing that for a while too.
I went because I know this woman, because she asked. I also had in the back of my mind that two interns should go for an opportunity to meet this federal representative. So I shared the appointed time and location with students and gave up a Sunday to attend.
Room was filled with 150-200 people. There wasn’t enough coffee. The food didn’t recognize today’s standards to eating issues–most women my age have given up donuts and fattening muffins for breakfast. Did I mention there wasn’t enough coffee?
The location had the worst accoustics. If you want to plan an event for 200 people you certainly need parking and space. But you also need to be able to have sound. Someone set up the microphone in front of the speakers–assuring hideous feedback every time the Congresswoman moved. Had the speakers been placed closer to the audience so she could walk…er…pace…behind them, she could have stuck with the microphone. In the end she abandoned the microphone to bellow. She was able to reach most of the room, but not those of us in the back. It’s okay, it was a pep rally, I know the drill. She wrapped up and people started to head out. The political aids were all poised at the back to capture departing guests to sign up to volunteer.
What they lacked in setting logistics they made up for in understanding their purpose–get the enthused audience to volunteer. It’s the only reason for the event. I’m sure they succeeded in getting several. Except me and my interns. We have our own campaign. But that’s another post.
Being the guest speaker in front of a group of prospective clients or prospective referrals affords a prime opportunity to showcase your brand. Certainly you need to prepare the speech. But even more so you need to prepare for the audience. You’ll want to make sure you provide content in your speech and content to present yourself. Here’s a quick checklist of what to bring:
- Handouts of the presentation. Whether you actually use a slide presentation or not, make handouts from a slide presentation with either two or three slides per page. Many people want to take notes and not everyone is going to be bringing a laptop to a breakfast or lunch engagement. Up to you on cutoff, but up to 50 attendees needing handouts a good rule of thumb.
- If it’s a more tech savvy group with ipads or smartphones, provide a link to your slide show. Or provide flash drives if you can afford it.
- Be sure to start a hashtag for the Twitterati. Follow up on other social media platforms.
- Provide information about you, your company and/or your services, whether a brochure, rack card or one-sheet.
- Business cards-yours.
- Sign up sheet or other mechanism to capture list of attendees.
- A special offer, incentive for this audience only.
- Wanna class it up? Put all items in a portfolio with an outside label of your logo–stickers are cheap and easy way to brand stuff.
Of course preparation includes knowing the venue and what’s available, but that’s another post
A speaking engagement affords an opportunity to share your expertise in front of a prospective client audience. Often professional groups allot 15 to 45 minutes for guest speakers at breakfast or lunch meetings. The audience and location dictate the tech suaveness of the presentation. You can have all the whiz bang power points you can design, but if the restaurant or meeting venue isn’t in a smart room, does you no good. To make the most of a short presentation try these tips:
- Determine the location and the Audio/Visual capacity of the venue.
- Discuss the presentation with the event planner to check expectations, time of presentation, number of attendees.
- Ask if you can capture the attendee list for your database, be sure the request is shared with the membership. Plan a method for capturing that info so you can follow up with attendees.
- Develop a slide presentation for a tech savvy room; then plan on printing handouts of the materials. May seem old-fashioned when many people bring computers to take notes. Keep in mind, still need to do low tech for those not on the tech band wagon and in case technology isn’t working. The smart room for the venue may have server issues on the day you arrive. At least with handouts, you’ll have something. Additionally, people learn differently. Many are visual, audio or kinetic learners (or combinations of)so handouts and slides and your speaking reach all of the learning types.
- Balance providing enough information without telling everything you know. You only have a few minutes, you need time for Q&A. Focus your topic to be sufficient to showcase your expertise, give at least one or two valuable tips, and leave them wanting more.
- Provide the presentation, tips, a mini bio and a call to action to use your services.
- Offer a discount for attendees who sign up to use your services. This doesn’t have to be a hard sell; just indicate you want the audience to be successful in implementing the tips you offered into their own plans.
You’re ready to share what you know.
One public relations strategy to consider is public speaking, more specifically a speaker’s circuit to get in front of your audience. Many professional groups seek engaging speakers to both educate and entertain their members. If you offer a business to business service such as coaching or accounting or human services solutions, you should be talking in front of groups of business owners and professionals.
Most host their events either at breakfast or lunch and have speakers either for 15, 30 or 45 minutes–depending on their programming needs, and how much time they need for their own program content. Many plan month to month. some are talented enough to plan several months out. Just check when you connect about availability.
The list of options is endless. You name the profession there’s an association for coaches, public relations practitioners, human resources experts…pick one. Then there’s service organizations such as the Soroptimists, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. Mentor programs. The numbers of professional groups are boundless. If you are a member of a group, offer to conduct one of the programs. Worried the group wants an”out of town” expert, trade with a sister city, so if you live in Reno go to the Sacramento version of your group (assuming you can provide out of area business). Not a member? Know someone who is? Ask them to bring you to the meetings or better connect you with the program chair. At your groups or through your emails indicate you are looking for speaking engagements, it’ll come around.
Now you just have to figure out what to say. Don’t forget you’re the expert.