You answer the phone and suddenly find yourself agreeing to give a talk to an organization or business group. Then, slowly ‘speakers’ remorse is setting in – was this right decision for you, your business and your schedule? The answer to this lies with how long you have been in business.
For a start-up, it is crucial to get yourself out there! To establish yourself as ‘an expert in your field’ and meet face to face with potential clients/customers. In turn, the community gets to know more about you and your new company. As an added benefit a Q&A session at the end of the presentation and networking before or afterward gives you a feel for what customers are looking for, what their concerns and needs are.
Fast forward a few years; growth is the priority. So, while you still need to get yourself out there don’t be quite so eager in your reply. Make sure the time of day, location and subject requested are in line with an increasingly busy schedule.
Next, a thriving company with an established presence in your community and industry. By now you know your demographic and your services/product line is honed down to the most profitable level. The days of trial and error are over. Decisions must be more specific; “Capitalizing on the success of your business, you may need to capture a larger market share and find new revenue.”
The person who wants you to speak is pushing the ‘It will be so good for your business’ angle. Remember this person just wants a speaker so “Thank you but no” or “I’ll let you know in a day or two” are perfectly acceptable responses at this stage.
Finally, maturity, business is robust and growing but no longer at the substantial pace of those earlier years. You have settled into a comfortable level of profitable operations or are possibly thinking of an exit strategy. You have the luxury of choice now, give a presentation or don’t the days of guilt and pressure are over.
What about the presentation itself?
Remember the hidden factors; prep time, travel time and actual time at the venue including networking, Q&A plus those attendee(s) who wants an overabundance of free advice.
It is alright to have a few key presentations ready to go, just check them before you are due to speak. Economic, political or industry changes may call for some alterations to the tone and wording of your talk.
If you can prepare your own presentations. Giving a talk or workshop puts a spotlight on your branding, company goals, services/products, and your own personality and ability to connect. The process, therefore, allows for an assessment of each.
Don’t upsell or be overly promotional as this puts people off. You are there to share your expertise on the topic requested. A brief mention of an upcoming special or a discount for attendees can be offered at the end.
No matter what age or stage your business be open to the opportunities to talk to ‘people’ not just future customers. Sharing your story with youth, seniors, veterans and listening to theirs may not translate to new business but you will gain a lot more.
Jill Crossland is a business and marketing consultant who can take your business and social media to the next level.