Five Tips to Maximize a Public Speaking Opportunity
Does your role as an executive require you to take on public speaking engagements? If so, do not delude yourself into thinking that some presentations are more important than others. Every single speaking opportunity puts you in front of an audience, large or small, who can buy your product or service, share a positive message about your company, approach you with an important business opportunity or engage you with a community initiative that aligns with your company’s outreach strategy. At a minimum, you have been given the good fortune to influence a niche or diverse audience that can be an ambassador of sorts for you, your company and your brand. What will you do with it?
As a frequent public speaker, myself – and a regular event attendee, I offer the following 5 tips:
1. Connect with your audience beforehand: If the setting allows for it, visit with guests prior to your presentation by circulating among the tables and introducing yourself. This type of personal introduction can endear you to your audience and further pique their interest in your remarks.
2. Appreciate the opportunity: Begin your remarks with positive comments and gratitude for the experience of being with your particular audience, but do not get too chummy with select audience members who you may know well or who invited you to speak; while this may be fine in small, intimate groups, the practice in general can have a tendency to make other audience members feel left out.
3. Enlist help to prepare, enhance your brand, and connect: Apologizing in advance for your remarks or accompanying graphics/video/audio is an admission that you were not prepared to speak to the audience; further, it reflects a disregard for the audience’s time. Enlist the skills of your marketing department, PR agency or at a minimum, a company tech expert, to ensure your message is powerful, applicable, visible and audible. Having top notch marketing visuals and collateral to accompany your speech takes the entire audience experience to the next level. Saying “I know many of you likely can’t see that,” does the opposite.
4. Share ‘an exclusive’: If appropriate, use the speaking presentation to roll out a new advertising or branding campaign or to share a company scoop. Audience members love to be “the first to know” and will frequently share the information with their circle of influence who were not at the presentation.
5. Avoid the ‘quick exit’: If you are not attending the entire event, plan some time in your schedule to remain after your speech – at least through the next break – for further introductions and feedback. A hasty departure after a speech can detract from the positive impression made just minutes prior.
Kay Douglas is the President and Founder of Douglas Marketing Group, which was established in 1991 and has offices in Detroit and Ontario, Canada.