Hello class, it’s great to be back for another lesson! In this lesson we will cover the business benefits of public speaking and how to find opportunities to speak at tradeshows, seminars, meetings, and more.
One way businesses can brand themselves as the “go-to” experts in an industry is by taking advantage of public speaking opportunities. By doing so, you share your knowledge with an audience and make a connection.
If you appear to be an expert, you are an expert. This will give you an advantage when attendees are looking for a product or service. They are likely to seek out people they already know, or industry experts they have met or heard speak at a seminar.
Seminar opportunities at tradeshows
There are both free and paid speaking opportunities. You really can’t go wrong with free opportunities, though they tend to be much more restrictive about the topic you can cover. They are typically focused on education and facts about industry trends you are observing, changes in technology, etc.
That doesn’t mean you can’t mention your company name or products, it just means you have to be a little more skillful in weaving that type of information into your presentation. An easy way tends to be using your product or company as an example for an industry trend or change in technology. But be careful not to do this in an obvious manner; this easily becomes a “turn off” to attendees who are serious about learning new information.
Paid sessions can be great marketing tools or expensive flops. I always feel bad for companies that spend significant money to speak during a buffet lunch, thinking they will get a lot of attendees to listen, only to find that attendees are doing e-mail, chatting amongst themselves, on the phone or find other ways to ignore the speaker. Before signing up for any paid session, make sure you can attract the audience you are looking for at a time that the audience is willing and able to pay attention to you.
Picking a company speaker
When deciding to jump into the public speaking arena your company will need to pick a skillful public speaker. Selecting the perfect company speaker is a little like selecting the perfect booth staffer.
You are looking for someone who is obviously not afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, should be eloquent yet easy to understand, be quick on his feet when it comes to thinking of good answers to questions, humorous, as well as knowledgeable about your industry, products and company.
Most likely you’ll have to compromise on some of those traits, but being knowledgeable and coming across as confident and easy to understand are essential must haves. If your company is starting to implement a plan for obtaining speaking sessions at various industry shows, consider professional speaker training for the company’s speaker for enhancing their presentation skills and better representing your company.
How to become selected for speaking opportunities
When thinking about becoming a speaker at tradeshows in your industry or verticals, keep in mind that show producers start selecting the seminar speakers, typically nine or more months before the show.
The seminars are a big part of a show’s appeal and are used heavily in pre-show promotions. In order to have a good shot at securing a free seminar opportunity, have your proposal submitted very early on. Call for speakers and submission deadlines are usually well published on show websites and should be easy to find.
Getting asked to speak again at the next show
Most likely you will want your company to be presenting at the next year’s event also. While there are many factors contributing to who is selected, good reviews are important for repeat presenters. Most shows ask attendees to evaluate each seminar, having good evaluations helps greatly with securing a session the following year.
Attendees want to learn about the topic you are speaking about, so cover information that goes beyond average information. At the same time, attendees want to enjoy the session, they want to be entertained.
Finding the right combination of dry facts and entertainment takes a little bit of experience and time and you should always ask for a copy of your evaluation results, so you can make the necessary corrections.
Public relations opportunities
Besides reaching the seminar audience, your company gains an opportunity for media attention. It certainly warrants a press release and you should invite media specifically to that event.
When you send a press release or pitch letter inviting media to attend, provide a list of the most important items they will learn during the session to spark their interest.
A session like this should also be announced within your own company and sales and marketing should work on a strategy to invite current and potential customers to attend. Mention the seminar on a company blog if you have one and prominently announce it on your company web site to support industry experience claims.
Now that you have learned about speaking opportunities at tradeshows it’s time to move on to the homework part of the lesson so you can put this information into practice.
For homework there are several things you will need to do.
1. Decide what type of tradeshows have the key prospects you’d like to reach.
2. Create a spreadsheet to track the speaking opportunities.
3. Search for tradeshows in your industry and verticals to find speaking opportunities.
4. Prepare a short biography of the proposed speaker; the typical length is 50 or 100 words.
5. Prepare and submit customized speaking proposals.
6. Track speaking proposals submitted.
About Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher
Linda Musgrove is president of the Trade Show Training firm, TradeShow Teacher. She focuses on teaching companies to significantly improve Trade Show Results through strategic, customized Trade Show Training for individuals, departments or entire teams. Training options include phone consulting, webinars, seminars and one-on-one in person coaching. Musgrove authored The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows, published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the free monthly Trade Show Tactics newsletter. Follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tsteacher .
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