Speaking opportunities are valuable for enhancing your reputation as well as that of your accounting firm. Try these tips to get those important invitations and make the most of them.
As a professional services provider, you probably know how helpful speaking directly to an audience can be and would love to get the opportunity. Speaking gigs let you share your expertise with the audience in person. They position you as an industry leader and bring plentiful networking opportunities along with them. When you answer the questions that follow, you’ll get additional exposure as someone who knows the ins and outs of your topic.
These engagements aren’t always easy to find, but they exist. If you can build the networks to land one and then do a bang-up job of it, you’ll be furthering your professional reputation and elevating the status of your firm at the same time. MarketingProfs.com offers five strategies to help you create the opportunities for speaking and then shine as a speaker, optimizing the chances you’ll be asked to do it more often. By following these steps you’ll be positioning yourself as a desirable speaker and polish your presentation skills as well, which is helpful in and of itself.
- Search inclusively. All kinds of meetings, conferences and conventions need speakers, not just the big-name ones you may sometimes attend for your firm. From Chamber of Commerce breakfasts to CLE/CPE seminars offered by local chapters of your professional association, there are constant slots to be filled. Anywhere professionals in your field gather to discuss new developments, explore challenges or network is a reasonable target for your search. Research the professional associations and private networking groups near you and consider joining. You can create a one-sheet detailing your knowledge and experience to send with an offer to speak when they have a need.
- Make yourself the most cost-efficient option. In this case, ‘cost-efficient’ is a euphemism for ‘free.’ Until you’re in great demand as a speaker (and even when you are), it doesn’t hurt to offer to speak at no cost to the group hosting you. You’ll gain exposure and the chance to polish your skills as you meet people who can share professional insights with you. Some may even be in a position to extend invitations for you to speak to their own groups. Never sneer at a speaking opportunity just because it’s unpaid or for a small audience. New doors can open from these understated ones.
- Let people know you’re available. One of the best ways to do this is by having a page on your website that announces your services and details the expertise you bring to your chosen area. Include a bio and list professional experience that illustrates your depth of knowledge and industry leadership, as well as any previous speaking engagements. Posting video clips from speeches you’ve given in any context is a great way to let those looking for a speaker see you in action.
- Become a great speaker. If this is something you want to do, take the steps to do an awesome job at it. Videotape yourself speaking and then analyze every little thing about your style. Study your voice, your body language, your timing, your gestures – take note of everything so you can refine each element until it’s what you’d want to see as an audience member. (Or many people can benefit from hiring an expert to help them get comfortable speaking, too. We have recommendations if you want some.) Taking the time to do this is a gift to your listeners as well as yourself. If you’re polished and comfortable, the audience will be able to focus on what you have to say and your speech will be remembered as interesting and worthwhile. That means likely to get further invitations.
- Get your presentation down pat. Once you’ve gotten an invitation, you want to do everything possible to be sure you’ll do a fantastic job. Practice extensively in front of a mirror, a video camera and a live audience (even if it’s composed entirely of your preschooler and your dog). Think about the questions that are likely to follow and become so well versed in the topic that you can answer articulately in any tangential direction that is presented. Total mastery of your topic will allow you to speak with confidence and maintain your composure. And if unanticipated questions arise, you’ll know your way around enough to formulate a logical response on the fly (but it’s okay to say you hadn’t thought about the question, assuming it’s not an obvious one).