Want to know the single most effective practice to become famous in your field? It’s not the newest social media tool. It’s good old-fashioned public speaking. Here’s why this centuries-old tool carries so much power today.
The value of public speaking for professionals
With speaking, you advance your firm’s reach, reputation and increase your profit. How? Because speaking helps:
- Strengthen your expert position. (More on this below.)
- Build your firm’s brand, gaining recognition, visibility and respect.
- Increase your influence, as you spread ideas and information.
- Enhance your ability to promote your firm and your services, in a non-salesy way
Why it works: rarity, psychology and prestige
One reason that speaking is so powerful is that it requires self-confidence. Few people will do it. (You’ve heard about the studies showing that, for many people, fear of public speaking ranks higher than their own death, right?) By taking an action that so many fear, professionals who speak are assured of standing out from most competitors.
Speaking is targeted marketing
Presentations and events are largely opt-in affairs. The audience (when you’ve done your homework) is made of individuals who are already qualified prospects. By showing up, they’ve demonstrated an interest in the service you have to offer. And viewing a presentation offers “proof” for the potential clients – they have a tangible example of how you and your firm is different; not just because your marketing materials say so.
Psychology of authority
The act of standing before a group and demonstrating knowledge on a topic is, by itself, a credibility indicator. Most attendees assume that because a person has been invited to speak, he or she is a recognized expert on the subject. We’re all unconsciously biased to view a speaker as an authority figure and a subject matter expert. Make that work for you!
When an individual wears a speaker’s badge at an event, he or she dons a cloak of celebrity. Fellow conference goers strike up conversations with speakers at lunch, breaks and sessions. As a savvy professional, you can leverage this effect by engaging as much as possible with prospects and influencers during and after the event. This natural allure gives you dozens of opportunities to “seed” conversations with information that sells without being salesy.
- Zero in on speaking topics that will increase your reach and build your reputation. Grab a piece of paper and list the most common questions that you’re asked about your area of expertise. If you’re an wealth manager, for example, start with the basic questions that every contact and prospect has.
- Next, make a list of current issues in your field. Are there changing laws? New regulatory requirements that impact your business? A new service delivery model that will save time, money or hassle? (Try to stay focused only on those issues that impact your clients, not yourself and colleagues!)
- For the next two weeks, pay careful attention to your clients and prospects. Listen carefully to their questions and concerns and probe for more whenever you have an opportunity.
Stay tuned! In a future post, I’ll give how-to advice on the mechanics of creating your own speaking program.