I will be speaking in September to a group of fellow résumé writers, and as I prepare I have been thinking about my own clients. So many are experts in their field! Yet they are reluctant to see themselves as experts and therefore do not see that they can use public speaking to increase their visibility and experiences. Have you considered using public speaking to increase your visibility and broaden your experiences?
A few common objections—and my answers to them—include:
- I have not been invited to speak. You do not need to wait for an invitation to speak! Consider hosting your own event at a local Chamber of Commerce, library, or other public facility. Many people use webinars to reach audiences in other geographic areas. You can also call business and industry organizations and let them know you are interested in and available to talk about your area of expertise. Many will be delighted to not have to search for their next speaker.
- I don’t know what to talk about. What have you been doing all these years in your career? You have significant experiences and insights that will allow you to be a value creator for your audience. You are passionate about what you do, and when you combine that passion with your experience, your audience will want to know more.
- I am terrified of public speaking. This is a legitimate objection, and there are many resources for those who want to overcome fears of public speaking. One thing I like to remember is that when I am speaking, I am not setting myself up as a perfect model; I am aiming to connect with my audience. Whether it’s through the value I create or the relationship I establish with my audience, this mindset frees me to deliver the value I promised with excellence but without the pressures of perfection.
Once you are ready to use public speaking as a powerful tool to grow your experience and expertise, keep the following tips in mind:
- Create value. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in public speaking isn’t forgetting a portion of your manuscript or even falling off the stage; it’s trying too hard to sell yourself, your business, or your product. Your audience will come to you looking for valuable information on your field of expertise—this is what you should focus on giving them. When they have a taste of the value you create, they will want more.
- Be accessible. Use the time before and after you speak to network. Get to know those who are attending the event and take time to answer their questions. This is the perfect networking opportunity because people want to meet you!
- Have a plan. While focusing on preparing your manuscript is important, be sure you have a plan in place to follow-up with your audience within several days of your event. If your goal is to find new job leads or grow your network, take the time to get contact information from everyone who attends, and make sure you follow-up with a phone call, an email, a card, or a face-to-face meeting if possible.
Start writing down ideas based on your own experiences and passions, and see where that takes you as you plan your own event, host a webinar, or start calling local business and industry organizations.