At a meeting recently a client asked if, in their quest for new business, they should send a member of their staff “out there to speak.”
It’s a good question, and one that I often find myself thinking about both as business owner, semi-regular presenter, and bank marketer. What, if any, is the value of public speaking?
There are a lot of downsides – creating a presentation that is both educational and entertaining takes time; there is usually a fair bit of travel involved, keeping me away from both the office and my family; and if you aren’t taken down by a bad case of stage fright, standing in front of an audience opens you for critique and criticism on anything from what you are saying to how you are saying it. (Or how badly you are using PowerPoint).
So why do people present? Here are a few reasons I keep hitting the stage:
Keep Sharp & Challenged
Whether updating a presentation I’ve given before, or creating something new, the process of developing a presentation forces me to keep up on my reading and research. In many cases, articles I’ve read are cataloged on our Pinterest boards for reference later. With topics like Social Media, this is particularly important given how fast the channels are growing and the landscape is changing.
Given the opportunity to speak on new topics – as when I was asked to share my thoughts on work/life balance for the New England Women in Banking Conference – challenges me to push out of my comfort zone, and tell a new story.
Learn Something New
Each audience is different and each person comes with their unique perspective and experience, which they are often happy to share with a speaker – sometimes in the form of a question, sometimes in the form of a “correction.”
Being challenged in this way forces me to think on my feet and come up with an answer or opinion of my own, and often teaches me something new that I can bring to our clients or to future presentations.
New People & Places
Through speaking I have had the opportunity to financial marketing professionals from around the country, as well as business owners from other industries. I have also had the opportunity to visit scenic spots and meet people in Maine, Massachusetts, California, Indiana and Texas.
new places, often at little to no cost (which brings up a whole other question about how much to charge – let’s hold that topic for another day).
I received a call recently from a compliance person looking for advice on her organization’s impending social media roll out. She had been referred by several colleagues who, based on a presentation they had seen me give, thought I would be able to answer her questions (fortunately, I was able to help with the answers she needed).
I am often asked whether or not I get new business from my speaking engagements – and the answer is yes. Eventually.
There is no question that past speaking engagements have opened doors to new business, and led to new clients, but it can be months, even years after I’ve addressed an audience.
Which brings me back to the client inquiry at the beginning of this post – sending a member of the commercial team “out to speak” can be a great way to build reputation and awareness as well as connect with potential customers.
It just may not bring in new business right away.