Surveys show that many of us fear public speaking more than we fear death, (at least, that’s what we tell the survey-takers!) but humans are also hard-wired to look to one another for information, news, and help. When someone speaks to our group, we tend to look up to them, to value what they say, and to give them authority. That’s why public speaking can be such an effective way to grow your organizing business.
If you really are terrified of public speaking, don’t worry, there are other ways you can gain clients. If you are even a little bit interested in public speaking, I’m here to tell you that, when done right, it can bring you a steady supply of your favorite clients.
Who Needs Speakers?
If you’ve had your organizing business for a while, maybe someone has already asked you to speak. Many groups are looking for interesting speakers, and organizing is a “hot” topic. Some of the groups looking for speakers include:
- Business networking groups
- Neighborhood groups
- School groups and PTAs
- Home shows
- Religious groups
- Alumni groups
Ask yourself a simple question. Should you give your time and energy to any group that will let you speak? Unless you’re looking for real-life practice, probably not. If you really want to grow your business, then you’ll need to speak to a group that is made up of your ideal clients. If your specialty is garage organizing, don’t spend your time with a group of apartment dwellers. Refer them to your colleague who organizes small spaces while you arrange to speak to a group of homeowners instead.
If your audience consists of people who are in your target audience, then speaking can build your business. There’s certainly nothing wrong with accumulating “good-deed points” for speaking to other groups. Just understand that not every public speaking opportunity is a good business opportunity.
What Do I Need to Get Booked for Public Speaking?
There are a few tools that can make it easier for you to respond to speaker schedulers easily and in a professional manner. These tools include:
- Introductory letter or email
- Speaker sheet or “speaker one-page”
- List of past speaking engagements, if available
I’ve written before about how beneficial it can be to use templates for documents you use often; your introductory letter or email is a prime example where a well-crafted template can save you hours. Don’t write a new letter from scratch each time. Have a letter prepared.
In your letter you’ll want to introduce yourself. Try something like, “I’m Adele Articulate, owner of Awesome Organizing. For over four years, I have helped parents protect their cherished memories by organizing their digital and printed photos. I would welcome an opportunity to speak to your group this year.”
Tell the recipient that you’re attaching your speaker sheet (more on that in a moment), your bio, and a selection of testimonials. Invite them to contact you or promise to follow up with them, or both.
Your speaker sheet is a powerful tool for getting booked as a public speaker. Typically a one- or two-page document, it will include the following:
- Topics or programs
- Your target audience
- The benefits of your talks
- A brief bio
- Your client list (unless it’s a separate document)
- Your contact information
You can find a raft of examples by doing an online search for “speaker one page” or “speaker sheet.” Find some you like to inspire your own design and format.
If you’ve never given a presentation before, or if you gave one but forgot to solicit feedback, you may not have a lot to include in your client list and testimonials. That’s OK. You’ll build your credibility over time as you gain experience. Beginning now, use a checklist to make sure you never forget those testimonials or other critical details again. I include one in my Public Speakers Essentials Kit.
A list of past speaking engagements can be as simple as including a note such as “Selected past clients include Organization X, Club Y, and School Z.” Include those that are especially prestigious or selective and those where your contact will sing your praises when asked for a reference.
Will I Be Paid to Speak?
Whether you charge for your talks is entirely up to you. Some audiences expect to pay for a speaker. Others may offer a small honorarium or nothing at all. Either way, address the question of payment early on.
In your initial exploratory email you could write, “Because of your members’ interest in the topics I teach, I am offering to speak pro bono to your group. In exchange I will use one minute of my time to make an offer regarding my services.” Then practice giving a talk that incorporates a very brief, respectful, non-sales-y offer to help prospective clients connect with you.
This assumes that you will be speaking in your own geographic area. If you travel to speak, the organization may have policies regarding travel expenses.
In addition to travel expenses and payment, there are many points to consider when agreeing to speak. In my Public Speakers Essentials kit I include templates to use when contacting a prospective speaking client, a letter of agreement, and other forms and templates to keep your speaking engagements worry-free.
How to Convert Audiences to Prospects to Clients
If the thought of making a hard-sell pitch makes you feel queasy, remember this: it makes your audience queasy, too, so don’t do it!
Sometimes new speakers wonder whether anyone will hire them if they “give away” all their expertise in a talk. But consider the flip-side of that scenario: how will anyone know how good you are and want to hire you if you don’t show them your expertise?
As PR consultant Jill Lublin advises, “Give them your gold.” In other words, don’t be afraid to show the audience your best stuff.
But that doesn’t mean you want to give them ALL your best stuff either. Anyway, unless you’re speaking for days, you won’t have time to give it all!
Here’s how to strike a happy medium. Think about the problem that plagues your ideal client. As an example, think about that photo organizing business we looked at earlier. Imagine that you are giving a 45-minute talk to a group of mothers, with an additional 10 minutes for questions. What are their concerns? That audience might:
- be drowning in too many photos
- wonder how to convert print copies, negatives, and slides to digital format
- feel unsure about the best way to keep digital photos
- not know how to use keywords and tags
- not have backed up their digital photos
- wonder whether it’s worth it to print any photos
- like to learn more about filters and special effects
- want to know how to use their photos to makes cards, calendars, and books
You can probably think of another handful of topics this audience has on its mind.
Make a list to share with the audience: “Ten Key Steps to Picture Paradise.” Choose just three of these topics and speak on each for 15 minutes. Tell them that in the time you have together you will only be able to talk about a few of those topics and you hope that everyone will be able to take away something of value to help them organize their photos.
It will be impossible to exhaust any of these topics in 15 minutes so don’t be afraid to give your best tips. People love to hear stories, so include interesting anecdotes and examples of how you’ve helped your clients. This helps to give the audience a sense of what it might be like to hire you.
If your audience leaves your talk with a feeling of optimism and relief, they will be grateful and feel that you have used their time well. And they will still be wanting more, which is why some of them will still become your clients, but only if you are bold enough to “give them your gold” by sharing some powerful strategies and resources.
One more tip on turning audiences into prospects and clients: make sure you create a way to follow up with them. Pass around a sign-up sheet. Invite them to sign up for your newsletter, if you write one. Offer to send them extra digital resources, for example an article you wrote or a checklist your designed, if they will give you their name and email address. Perhaps you’ll want to make a special offer that’s available to your audience for a limited time. Promote a free telephone consultation, if you offer one. Use these opportunities to engage with your audience one more time.
When you are invited to stand in front of a group and speak, you have a brilliant opportunity to showcase your knowledge and let a large group of people get to know you. Some of them will enjoy your talk. Some will take what you’ve shared and do some organizing on their own. And some will decide that you are exactly the person who can solve their problems.
They will become ideal clients.
Want to speak with ease and confidence to build your organizing business? My Public Speakers’ Essentials Toolkit can help. The kit includes questions to ask and points to remember from your first contact through event day and your presentation.