Every marketer wants to position themselves as a thought leader and build a strong audience base. Research shows 49 percent of B2B decision-makers are influenced by thought leadership content, and 59 percent of B2B decision-makers believe a company’s thought leadership content better demonstrates its capabilities than its marketing material. There are several strategies for this very purpose but public speaking remains the key strategy as it helps you gain credibility and engage with your audience.
Importance of Public Speaking
Public speaking is one of the most powerful tools to position yourself as a thought leader and gain recognition. Here are some of the benefits of public speaking:
1. Communicate directly with your target audience.
As you can accept or decline speaking engagements at your own discretion, ensure that you are speaking only at events that cater directly to your target audience.
2. Increase your credibility.
If you are well versed in a subject area within your industry of operation, you are effectively positioning not only yourself but also your business as a leader in that domain. Case in point: Gary Vaynerchuk and his company VaynerMedia. Do you think VaynerMedia would be as popular as it is now without Gary Vaynerchuk?
3. Promote your own stuff.
It’s become common practice for event speakers to promote their own offering/brand. You can further leverage this opportunity by distributing branded merchandise and business cards that can help with brand recall.
4. Financial rewards.
If you are a talented presenter and have powerful primary information to share, you can demand a pretty penny for your services. Harvard Business Review suggests that amateur speakers can earn between $500 and $2,500 for a talk, beginners between $5,000 and $10,000, veterans may draw as much as $10,000 to $20,000, while famous speakers (like bestselling authors or industry thought leaders) can expect anything upwards of $20,000.
5. Networking opportunities.
This one’s a given. But, there’s a lot less legwork required when you are a presenter, as other attendees are going to be much more inclined to approach you.
How to secure high-profile speaking opportunities
1. Find your niche:
As you begin your public speaking journey, you are never going to gain traction as the 10,000th person specializing in sales. But, you may find the opportunity and demand in a category like real estate marketing. Here are questions that you should ask yourself as you search for your niche:
- In what subject areas do I have experience?
- Are any of these subject areas in-demand topics?
- Do any of these subject areas align with my business outcomes?
- Do I have any original insights that I can present?
- If not, is it possible for me to become a thought leader or acquire primary data?
- Can I effectively map various topics back to my business?
2. Acquire necessary training:
You are going to have to be a pretty competent speaker if you want to stand a chance with this tactic. Some people are naturally predisposed to public speaking, but there is also training available to help you hone these skills. Toastmasters is an international organization that specializes in public speaking training, courses are available on LinkedIn, and academies like MasterClass may also be worth considering.
3. Start small and build a reputation:
The fastest way to open the doors to new speaking opportunities is by building some credibility. Start small with internal presentations, lectures at business associations that you may belong to, or other small-scale speaking engagements. Not only do these smaller events help you to refine your skills, but they also help you to build your digital resume through video content production. Having these presentation videos that can be showcased on YouTube, a personal site, or otherwise can go a long way in terms of boosting your credibility with event coordinators.
4. Research larger events/conferences:
Once you have tackled a few smaller events, you might be ready to graduate to the big leagues. There are a couple of tricks that can dramatically increase the speed and effectiveness of your research process. Those tricks include:
- Google it. Too obvious? Perhaps. The trick here is to conduct searches based on your geography. For example, if your niche is real estate marketing and you live in LA, then you might want to enter a search like “California real estate conference”. And if you don’t find enough in the SERPs, then the related searches section can also be helpful (image #2)
- Use software. Have you ever heard of Eventbrite? It is a tool that provides users with a list of events based on industry, size, location, and other search parameters. It also lets visitors connect with the organizers so that they can quickly begin the application process. Once you have conducted some event research and identified a list of opportunities that would be suitable for you, then there’s just one thing left to do.
5. Contact event coordinators:
When events are searching for speakers, they are likely to have certain criteria that they would like candidates to meet. If you can meet these (or are close) and are interested in the gig, then you should begin the application process. Here are some tips to drive the success of your application:
- Start the process at least three to six months prior to the date of the event.
- Invest some time. Be specific and customize your messaging for every single message you send.
- Sell yourself. Don’t get too lengthy, but deliver a few sentences explaining who you are, what you want to speak about, and why you are a great fit for the event.
- Follow-up if you don’t receive a response within a few days, and again if you wait another week
Speaking opportunities are one of the best ways to position yourself as a thought leader. It’s easier said than done as you need to constantly offer unique insights to your followers to establish your credibility and maintain it. However, when done right, benefits will outweigh the costs as prospects will follow you instead of the other way around.
Discover how you can leverage public speaking and other marketing tools into your inbound marketing strategy by downloading The Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation today.