Public speaking offers women in business a significant opportunity to gain publicity, increase your personal and business brand exposure, and drive sales.
But how do you become a public speaker?
First, you need to establish yourself as an expert and thought leader in your field, and there are some very specific steps that you can take to do it. Following are fives steps to help you get started:
1. Determine Your Area of Expertise
Every public speaker brings something specific to the audience she speaks to, and that something is usually related to her area of expertise.
What topic related to your business or career do you know inside-out? What topic can you talk about authoritatively for hours with anyone who will listen?
As long as that topic is relevant to your business or career, you can consider it to be your niche of expertise for branding yourself as a public speaker. If you don’t have a clear area of expertise, don’t worry. Start researching, reading, learning, joining relevant social media conversations, participating in associations and groups, and learn more! In other words, turn yourself into the expert you want to be.
2. Pick Your Presentation Topic
Most public speakers have one primary topic that they talk about all the time as well as several other topics they can speak about.
When you’re first starting out in public speaking, choose a single topic that is highly relevant to your business and area of expertise. As you build your reputation, you can add more topics. This is a recommendation I give to both my business branding and personal branding clients because a focused brand is a strong brand. With that in mind, start with a laser focus and expand later.
Keep in mind, your lecture topic should be something that you can present and answer questions about. Your audience should walk away from your lecture with useful information, a solution to a problem, and actionable tips.
3. Refrain from Talking about Yourself and Your Business
Your presentations should never sound like sales pitches.
While it’s fine to tell some stories about your business as they relate to your topic, you never want your audience to think the only reason you’re talking to them is to sell your products or services to them in the future.
Increased sales are a positive indirect effect of public speaking, but they should not be your primary goal. Mention your business at the beginning of your presentation to identify who you are and the experience and expertise you bring with you, and mention your business again at the end of your presentation with contact information for follow-up. Otherwise, don’t mention your business unless it’s directly related to the point you’re trying to make.
4. Determine the Extra Something You Can Give to Your Audience
Whenever possible, offer your audience something exclusive and special that only they can get because they attended your presentation.
For example, offer a free ebook or a special discount on a future purchase. Acknowledge that you value them and appreciate that they took time out of their days to listen to you speak.
Make sure you get the email addresses of everyone who attends your speaking events and follow up with targeted email marketing campaigns.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Few people are born public speakers. In fact, public speaking terrifies most people. The truth is it takes a lot of practice and a lot of speaking events to become a polished public speaker.
Keep putting yourself out there, and in time, you’ll see your skills and your results improve.
Originally published 7/29/14. Updated 6/28/18.