Money Talks How to Build Your Visibility Through Public Speaking

"I started off speaking because I had always heard that it was a good way to build your reputation. In the beginning I would speak to anyone who would invite me. In a way that was good, because it gave me the chance to hone my speaking skills, which weren't that great in the beginning. Toastmasters and a personal coach help me gain the confidence I needed. After a while I started to develop a reputation as someone who could deliver an interesting talk and the offers started to multiply. This was somewhat of a mixed blessing.

While I enjoyed the audience attention, I began to realize that there were precious few people in the audience who could potentially become clients. Eventually I realized that I started to focus on trade associations that served my targeted group of clients. These groups were a much more productive use of my time. Speaking to these audiences both enhanced my reputation as an expert in my field and also led directly to some new accounts." Michael Schonefield, Electronics Distribution. A key component for building your reputation for expertise is public speaking.

It's important not only for building your success in rainmaking, but also for gaining visibility with the senior management in your company. One of the most effective ways to build your organizational visibility is through making presentations, so you've got to learn the basics. Where can you go to learn? Lots of places. Your company may have an internal presentation skills program that they offer.

If they do make sure you sign up to take the class. There are also a lot of outside resources available. Perhaps the best known is Toastmasters, and it is excellent. You learn how to structure a speech and present it before an extremely supportive group of audience members. Aside from toastmasters, there are a number of training companies, mine included, that offer this type of training.

When you're starting your speaking career, it doesn't make a great amount of difference who's in the audience. The general rule is to speak to any group that will have you. In the beginning you just want to get experience. Public speaking is like many other things in life, it's frightening the first few time you do it, but after a little bit of experience you wonder what the big concern was.

As you develop your reputation for being able to give an interesting speech, you'll find that it's pretty easy to get speaking opportunities. At this stage in your speaking career you'll want to be selective about where you spend your time. I recently spoke to a local civic group and think I lowered the average age in the room down to about 70. It's not that they weren't a wonderful group of people, but they were all retired. Unfortunately, I can't market my services to the retirement set, although a few of them did promise to pass my information along to their grandkids. Maybe I'm being short sighted, but I still don't think it was the best use of my time.

Although there are no hard and fast rules to this, after you've gotten comfortable with your speaking skills, you'll want to make sure that you ask whoever is requesting your speaking services the following questions. 1-How many people will be there? 2-What's their background? 3-What's their motivation for attending? I find that the answers to these questions are extremely helpful in determining how beneficial the speaking assignment is likely to be.

Mark Satterfield is the author of How To Overcome Marketing Inertia and Get More New Clients in as Little as 7 Weeks. Find out more by clicking here

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