Marketing and PR efforts should be in the forefront of your organization,
given today's competitive climate and the uncertain economy. Standing out
from the crowd, regardless of your organization's industry, is a huge challenge.
How can you meet this challenge?
Many organizations have recognized the value of holding seminars at which
their executives make presentations. The problem with these seminars is that,
more often than not, the attendees are existing customers, clients or individuals
who are already familiar with the firm.
Companies need to expose their expertise to prospective customers
and clients. What is a proven method of accomplishing this objective? By speaking
at public forums - at conferences, seminars and forums held by independent
event organizations, associations, professional and industry trade groups,
and academic institutions and think tanks - enormous exposure is created.
There is much evidence that speaking at public forums often results in the
attainment of business, by providing increased awareness of the company in
general and specific subject areas in particular, to an audience of potential
customers or clients. Presentations about industry trends or "how-to" talks
can make a large impact on the audience.
Speaking opportunities for executives and managers represent a strong marketing,
public relations, and business development tool for the following reasons:
- Attendees get to learn about a firm's expertise firsthand and can interact
directly with the speaker immediately before or after the presentation.
An attendee asking for a business card can be the first step to obtaining
a customer. The press in attendance also present opportunities for added
- Gaining increased visibility in vertical/industry sectors or broad-based
areas that the firm has determined is in need of greater exposure. This
can be an established line of business where the firm speaks from a position
of strength and is known as a "go-to" firm for a particular area. Conversely,
presentations can cover an area that is just getting off the ground or at
an early stage in its development and needs some fast exposure to let potential
customers know about the newly offered products or services.
- The company gains "advertising" by having its name and the executive
speaker's name published in the agenda of thousands of brochures and promotional
announcements mailed or e-mailed by event organizers.
What should an organization be doing to get its executives and managers
out on the speaking circuit? Take the following eight steps:
- Decide which product or service area(s) the firm should be targeting
for increased visibility. Make sure that there are executives in those
areas committed to the idea of making public presentations. Some will resist
the idea of taking time away from other business activities so make sure
that you have their full support.
- Get the right speaker on board. Proposed speakers should be experienced
executives and, preferably, experienced speakers. Small-to medium-sized
organizations should nominate their CEO or other senior executive. Large
organizations can also nominate staff at the director or manager level,
depending on the criteria of the speaking opportunity.
- Speak to the right audience. Thoroughly research the events for
which representatives of your firm can be proposed as speakers, as solo
presenters or as panelists. There are so many events taking place on so
many topics, frequently simultaneously, that you'll need to choose diligently
in order to maximize the time and expense associated with speaking. Identify
speaking engagements whose audience represents the customers and industries
your organization wants to reach.
- Develop a proactive speaker placement program. It's fine to evaluate
unsolicited speaking opportunities. However, having someone dedicated to
the task who will aggressively identify opportunities, develop relationships
with event organizers and write and submit speaker proposals, should lead
to an increase in the frequency of speaking engagements and thus increased
visibility for the executives participating and the firm as a whole.
- Decide on the geographic area to target for speaking engagements - locally, regionally, nationally or even internationally. There are hundreds
of speaking opportunities held worldwide every year.
- Create high-impact presentations. Audiences want to acquire actionable
information they can take back to their organizations. They don't want to
hear that your firm is the leading firm in this or that subject area. A
solid, informative presentation that covers applications or technologies
and is not product or company specific will create instant credibility and
obviate the need for a "sales pitch." A presentation that turns out to be
a sales pitch will ensure low evaluations by the audience and a one-way
ticket home from the conference organizer. The speaker who gives a sales
pitch is duly noted and rarely invited back, oftentimes tainting the entire
company in the eyes of the event organizer.
- Learn the process for submitting a speaker proposal to the event
organizer - follow the format established by the organizer for writing
a presentation abstract, submitting bios and speaker expertise, previous
speaking experience information, and, of course, meeting the proposal deadline
date. Make sure you tailor the abstract and the bio to each speaking opportunity
so that they fit the objectives of the audience.
- Follow up continuously and persistently with the event organizer to help your company stay above the noise, since you will often be competing
with several other companies for the same speaking slot.
By developing an effective speaker placement program for your organization,
you will have taken a big step in meeting its marketing, PR, and business