Have you ever considered how you might be able to grow your business through speaking? Truthfully, speaking is one of the fastest and most effective ways to spread your message. The problem? Most people aren’t doing it. They say things like:
- I don’t have a speech.
- I don’t know how to break into the speaking world.
- I’ve done really small speaking gigs for moms’ groups or churches but I’m terrified to up my game and go for gigs that are relevant to my profession.
- I have stage fright.
- I don’t know what I should speak on.
- I know what to speak on, but not how to monetize it.
Sound familiar? Fear not, because today, I’m going to tell you exactly how to grow your business through speaking—even though you may think you can’t.
As always, if you’re an auditory learner, feel free to stop reading immediately, and watch the Facebook Live version of this blog now:
First, let’s talk about stage fright. They say 85% of Americans are terrified of speaking. That is a staggering statistic! But you know what? I don’t buy it. I really don’t. Here’s why: If you do some deeper research, the majority of people who say they’re terrified of speaking actually just have butterflies. Having butterflies and being terrified are two completely different things. The truth? Around 10% of people have severe stage fright, and for those people, getting up onstage is just not an option. For the other 90%, speaking may give you a good case of butterflies, but it’s certainly doable.
Now, here’s the thing. I know speaking can be butterfly-inducing. It requires you to be vulnerable! When you speak, you have to stand in front of a bunch of people who may not even like you, much less listen to and buy from you. And that can feel scary.
Even though I’ve been speaking for years, I still get nervous. Every. Single. Time. But I suck it up and I do it anyway. Because it works, and the benefits are virtually endless.
Here’s why it’s so easy to grow your business through speaking:
- It is the fastest way to get in front of a huge audience. You want visibility. You need visibility. This is huge, especially if you’re trying to grow your business (which obviously you are or you wouldn’t be reading this.)
- You build your credibility by showing large groups of people that you are an expert in your niche—an authority in your industry.
- Every time you speak, you open up your door to referrals for more speaking gigs.
- It’s great for networking and business referrals. Even if half of your audience isn’t quite ready to buy when they hear you speak, there is a good chance they know someone who is.
- You can sell digital or tangible products, or even pre-sell things you have in development. And even better, you don’t have to be a slime ball to do it.
If you’re not already trying to grow your business through speaking, you need to be. If you are speaking, but you’re not making any money from it, it’s time to up your game. Are you ready?
9 Steps To Take To Grow Your Business Through Speaking
1. Find your passion.
As an expert in your field, there are probably hundreds of things that you could choose to speak about. But could and should are two totally different things. If you’re trying to grow your business through speaking, then what you should do, is choose something that you are really passionate about. Think about what gets you excited. What are the things related to your field that you could talk on nonstop for days if nobody interrupted you?
For example: I am a marketer. There are a lot of different things I could speak on related to marketing. There are literally a million different topics I could cover. I’ve been in this business for over 20 years so let’s just say, I know a lot about marketing. But there are some things that I know really, really well. There are some things I’m so incredibly passionate about, you cannot pay me enough to stop talking about it.
Storytelling is one of those topics for me. A core value of mine, I’ve been writing & telling stories ever since I can remember. It’s part of who I was woven to be. So naturally, when I was preparing my first speech, I knew it had to be about storytelling.
You have something like that, too. Make a list of some things you are passionate about within your industry. If you can only come up with one thing, that’s ok! You only need one speech to get started. If you have a long list, that’s great, too. Just keep in mind that you’re going to need to chose one to start with.
2. Conduct Thorough Research.
It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about a topic, if your audience doesn’t want to hear about it. That said, if you want to grow your business through speaking, you must speak on a topic people want to know more about. I have seen so many people write dynamite speeches and accomplish nothing with them because the market demand simply wasn’t there. You can save yourself that frustration by doing your research upfront.
Find out if people are talking about your topic here:
- Google: Create a free account on Google AdWords. You can enter keywords related to your topic and see how many searches are being done on those keywords, as well as related keywords. This will give you a ton of information on what your audience is really searching for.
- Podcasts: There are a ton of different platforms out there for podcasts but to start, head to iTunes, iHeartRadio, and SoundCloud. Search for your keywords to see if there’s anyone else out there speaking on the same topic.
- Amazon: Search for any books related to your topic. See how many best sellers there are. Then read the reviews. In the positive reviews, people will tell you what topics really resonated with them and in the negative reviews, they’ll tell you what topics they wish were covered. Read both.
- Quora: This is a forum where people can ask questions about literally anything. Do a keyword search and see if there are any questions related to your topic. Review the questions and the answers. If you see a lot of action here, that’s a really good sign.
- Reddit: Similar to Quora, Reddit has ongoing conversations about everything you can think of (and a lot of things you could never imagine). I’ll be honest, the set up is quite clunky, but if you want to know if your topic is hot, this is a must-visit site.
- BuzzSumo: If you search for your field, you’ll see what articles within that field are getting the most attention online right now. Find a topic that’s getting a ton of traction, rework it from your perspective, and you’re almost guaranteed a winner.
- Ask your audience: You may not have a speaking audience yet, and that’s ok. But you still have an audience. Ask your existing and former clients, your followers on social media, etc. to get an idea of what information they’re eager to learn. Facebook Polls can be your best friend.
3. Look for speaking opportunities.
In order to have the best chance to grow your business through speaking, you really want to look for opportunities online, as well as offline. Speaking isn’t limited to being onstage in front of a room full of people. In fact, it can be really hard to be successful in that arena for a lot of people, because they’re limited by location. Unless you have no attachments and dream of traveling around the world all the time, platform speaking may not be your ultimate dream job. For those of you that want to grow your business through speaking but have kids or are just not excited about the idea of living out of a suitcase, there are alternatives!
Speaking Gigs That Don’t Require Any Travel:
- Webinars: You can host your own webinar and promote it on social media or at networking events. There are a lot of platforms that make it really easy to do this. In the past we’ve used Webinar Ninja. Another option would be for you to join as a guest expert on someone else’s webinar.
- Podcasts: You should already have a good idea of whether there are podcasts related to your topic. Take a closer look and make a list of the ones that allow guest experts for interviews. Start reaching out to them and pitch your idea. Be sure to tell them what makes you unique and how you can provide a great benefit to them/their audience as a podcast guest. You can also search for your competitors to see if any podcasts have had them on as guests. This is a great way to get your foot in the door because you know right away that they’re interested in what you do.
- Online summits: these are an excellent way to grow your business through speaking because it typically involves a bunch of experts in different areas coming together and promoting to their individual audiences, which means you automatically expand your audience exponentially.
- Online Lives: You already know about my love for Facebook Live. You can also go live on YouTube, and even Instagram. This is an amazing way to connect with people without geographical restrictions. I will say, I think doing Facebook Lives is harder than speaking live at an event. When I’m on Facebook Live, I don’t have the visual feedback of people smiling, laughing, nodding, etc. to show me that they’re engaged so I have to kind of just keep going and hope and pray that people will comment to let me know they’re with me. That said, the benefit to this type of speaking is that, especially if you do it unscripted, it’s a great way to practice sharing genuinely from the heart. It won’t be perfect (if you want proof of that, go watch some of the video at the top of this blog). And really, THAT’S OKAY. No one expects you to be perfect except for you, probably.
- Local clubs and churches: These are not going to be big money making gigs for you, however, you’ll get some solid experience by speaking in front of your community Rotary/Kiwanis Clubs, or church/synagogue.
- Small business networking groups: SCORE & the Chamber of Commerce are good starting points. You can also search for additional groups on Meetup.
- Industry specific networking groups: Do a search for “networking groups for (your profession) in (your city)”. You’ll probably find something. If you don’t, and there are enough people in your area to warrant it, consider starting your own!
- Conferences: If you live in or near a bigger city like I do, chances are, there are speaking opportunities at conferences less than 30 minutes from your home. Don’t let the word “conference” scare you. Sometimes conferences only have 20 or 30 people. You don’t have to get up in front of 10,000 people at this point. Ultimately, people come to conferences ready to buy so even small events are a great way to grow your business through speaking, and gain valuable experience along the way.
For more ideas of where to get speaking gigs and other ways to grow your business through speaking, head over to SizzleForce Academy. Our newest product, The Speak & Sell Game Plan, includes a list of places that you can start speaking even if you’ve never done it before.
4. Identify the key points you want to cover.
You should probably have 3-5 takeaways for every speech you prepare. You don’t want to give away everything you know on a specific topic because you want them to be motivated to buy from you. However, you do want to make sure your audience always feels like they made the right choice by taking time out of their busy day to come hear you speak.
Need an example? Check out my speaking page. As you’ll see, I’m currently offering to speak on three different topics. If you hover your mouse over one of them, it will flip and show you the key takeaways for that particular speech.
5. Determine your call to action.
There are two different types of speeches you can deliver when promoting your business:
- The educational speech.
- The educational speech that actually gets you sales.
We’re going for the latter.
Remember, you don’t have to be a slime ball in order to speak and sell. You can be authentic and true to who you are, share your expertise, and sell more than you ever imagined. But you have to do it right. Before you’ll be able to sell anything, you have to figure out what you want to sell. It needs to be something that’s really valuable to your audience, and you have to offer it at a price that really appeals to their budgets.
When I first started speaking professionally, I promoted an online product I had created. After I finished, everybody told me how great my speech was and how much they learned… they loved me!
But nobody bought the product I promoted. No one. Absolute CRICKETS!!
Looking back, I can tell you exactly why. I made the mistake of trying to move a product that cost $600. Now, was it worth that much? Absolutely! In fact, $600 was a screaming deal for the amount of content purchasers received. However, that was irrelevant. The lesson here is simple: It’s very unlikely that you’ll speak to a cold audience and get them to invest several hundred dollars with you 45 minutes later. That’s a substantial purchase and it takes time to earn enough trust to get it. Instead, you want to sell something that less of a leap. The service I sell at most of my speaking engagements now ranges between $79-$129. Now, the real value of that service is actually much higher, in fact when I sell it outside of speaking gigs, I sell it for $350. But by lowering the price when I do speaking gigs, I’m able to offer an exclusive deal (which makes more people want to buy) and it appeals to people who might not look my way otherwise.
Whatever you sell needs to appeal to people who want to learn more, but aren’t necessarily ready to go all-in with you. Think of it like dating. You wouldn’t agree to marry someone on the first date, right? First you go for coffee, then maybe lunch, then dinner and a movie, then spend an entire day together… it’s a process. You have to “woo” people. Listening to you speak was the 45-minute coffee date; now you need to ask them out to lunch, so to speak.
I want you to brainstorm about what your offer could be. Remember, it needs to be a no-brainer. They need to hear it and think “Duh. I’d be stupid not to buy this.” Here are a few things you can offer when you’re first getting started:
- A book. A lot of people do books because once they’re written, the work is done so you can easily sell them for way below market value.
- An hour of your time. This works really well if you provide some type of service. I sell an hour long business coaching session but this would also work for many other industries. The great news? It costs you nothing more than your time.
- A digital product. For example, the new course I just added to SizzleForce Marketing Academy, The Speak & Sell Game Plan is just $57 but the true value is much higher than that. When my audience hears about all of the benefits they get from taking this course, they know they have to have it!
There are a lot of other options here so take some time to brainstorm what you could offer that is high value for your audience, while requiring as little ongoing work from you as possible.
6. Write Your Speech
The moment has finally come! Does it surprise you that I had you do so many things before writing your speech? The truth is, I’ve seen a lot of people do this backwards. They write a speech and then they go through all the other steps. And you know what happens? A lot of those speeches end up never being heard by anyone. Do the front-end work first and you’ll see far better results.
Remember, you’re trying to write a speech that’s going to sell something. In order to do that, you can’t wait until the very end of the speech to make your pitch. You need to “seed” your pitch throughout the speech. Everyone is expecting the sales pitch at the end. They’re waiting for it. And honestly, most of them will already be tuned out if you wait until the end to share your offer. Alternatively, when you seed your pitch throughout your talk, you’ll have them actually anticipating, even excited for you to lay it on them!
One of the things included in the Speak & Sell Game Plan is a formula that helps you to outline your speech. I have worked really hard on this over the years and have finally come up with a formula that works flawlessly. You can get it, here.
There are a lot of ways to seed your offer throughout your talk but one way that I want to mention is letting other people seed for you. If I go to speak at an event and I run into someone who I’ve worked with in the past, I’ll ask them to share their experience. Now, I can brag about myself all day. But the truth is, it’s exponentially more powerful when someone else brags for me. When I tell you I’m amazing, it can come across as arrogant. But when someone else tells you I’m amazing – even better, someone who’s been exactly where you are and who I helped get out of that place – well, that holds some serious weight.
7. Create A Speaker Sheet
You need a speaker sheet. This is the first thing most people will ask for when searching for people to speak at their meetings.
When you’re just getting started, a regular double sided 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper should be fine. As you get more experience under your belt, you may find that you need more of a brochure that you can open up like a magazine, but for now, go with the standard size.
Your speaker sheet should include:
- Your name
- Pictures (At the very least, a professional headshot. You should also add photos of you speaking once you have them)
- Your speaking topics with key takeaways
- Your bio
- Your contact info
Once your speaker sheet is designed, add it as an optional download on your website, and make a small investment to have a handful printed so you always have what you need when promoting your speaking services.
8. Expect (And Prepare For) The Unexpected
Again, if you want an example, watch the last 12 minutes or so of the video at the top of this blog. Right in the middle of making a good point, I went into a coughing fit and could barely talk! I could’ve chosen to delete the video and pretend it never happened but instead, I decided to let you guys in on a little secret: I. Am. Human.
And guess what? You are, too. Things will go wrong. Technology will fail. There will be a huge accident on the freeway. Your mic will stop working. Or maybe you’ll get lucky enough to go into your own coughing fit. It happens. It just does. The only thing you can do is aim to be as prepared as possible and then, keep going. Bring water. Leave earlier than you need to in order to get there on time. Practice delivering your speech without the slides. You get the idea. Remember, your audience knows you’re human. They’re not going to turn their nose up at you for being human. And if they do? Well, you don’t really want to work with them anyway, do you?
There honestly is so much I could share with you on this topic but I’m going to sign off for today. If you’d like to learn more about how to grow your business through speaking, head over to SizzleForce Academy and get your hands on The Speak & Sell Game Plan. In it, I’ll teach you to create your magnetic offer, outline your signature speech, and create your speaker sheet, as well as give you a list of places you can start speaking even if you’ve never spoken before. It’s a no brainer, really.