How Speaking At Events Will Help Your Business
I wrote this blog at ridiculous o'clock last night (or, more accurately, this morning...), having just come home from yet another speaking engagement; my sixth this month.
I was at a university earlier this week, giving the lowdown on being an entrepreneur to a group of female students who are interested in starting their own businesses when they graduate; last week I was at a #WomenEd lead meet, speaking to a room full of teachers and headteachers about leadership enablers and barriers, and a few days before that I was guest speaker at a volunteer celebration event for a large domestic abuse charity, talking about my time in a women's refuge and how much the support I received helped me to move forwards with my life.
The week before, I spoke at a national awards ceremony for working mums, having judged their Start-up Of The Year category and, on the previous day, I'd given a masterclass on resilience at a networking event.
All very different events, all with one thing in common: they raised the profile of my business.
They might appear to be a group of, seemingly, unconnected events that, on face value, don't have any commercial value for me but, actually, that's not true. Any opportunity to reach potential clients or customers, or find new ambassadors or fans, is a good opportunity. Developing your brand, and your business, doesn't always have to be about money; raising awareness of what you do, what you stand for, and who you are, is just as valuable to your business as pitching directly to clients in a sales environment.
I'll share the results of those six speaking engagements:
- Three mentors for my charity, The Juno Project, and two potential collaborations
- Two further speaking requests
- Three workshop bookings
- The opportunity to collaborate on a specific project related to my new book with a prestigious supporter
- An invite to the opening of a new centre, and the chance to network with some influential people
- A spike in book sales
- Countless mentions on social media, six monthly newsletter features, and ninety seven new followers/connections (with the added benefit of their respective connected networks)
- An increase in the perception that other people have of me, my work, and a few new fans - young women who have told me that they see me as an inspiring role model, and want to follow my work
And the best bit? I met loads of amazing people, and made a few new friends.
Now. I understand that not everyone likes speaking in public, and it can be quite frightening, but it is a great way to raise your profile with people who are interested in the very things that you're interested in; plus a chance to make sales, or bring in new clients.
So here's a few tips for public speaking:
- It's OK to be nervous! There's nothing wrong with nerves, in fact actors will tell you that nerves are a vital part of their performance, and they embrace them. Speakers come from all walks of life, they aren't all professionals, and audiences are totally fine with them being honest and saying they're a little nervous
- Remember they're just like you. So here's the thing, the people you're speaking to are no different to you; actually, you're a bit ahead of them - because they have no idea what you're going to say. You know something they don't (that's why you've been asked to speak!), and they're keen to learn from you. They see you as an expert!
- Remember to breathe... The first time I gave a speech, I spoke so fast that I think I may have only breathed about three times in seven minutes (the head spinning afterwards certainly gave me that impression). It wasn't pleasant. However, I taught myself how to breathe properly, watched a few videos of professional speakers to learn their techniques, and now speaking in front of groups of people is just like chatting to you - totally enjoyable. Oh, and I breathe a bit more too now.
If you fancy having a go at public speaking yourself, check out your local Toastmasters Club for tips, and pitch yourself to networking groups, or other groups that have a connection - however tenuous - to your business.
It's absolutely worth it.
I'd love to hear your experiences of speaking at events - comment below!