How Public Speaking Can Increase Your Exposure & Build Your Profile

The old adage that most people are more afraid of speaking in public than they are of snakes and even of dying is most likely true, judging by what I have seen and heard from even the most experienced and well versed speakers today. If you can swallow your nerves enough to speak in public, you will go a long way in establishing your expert status and building your profile.

Why Speak In Public?

Many business owners mistakenly think that only professional speakers should or do speak. They assume that because speaking is not their main form of income, it is not something for them, and there is no reason to do it.

The truth is that only a very small percentage of people who are actively speaking at large and small events locally and around the world are professional speakers and do it to get paid. Many more speak for a token appearance fee, or for nothing at all, to simply raise their profile, get themselves known among their target client group or among their peers, and ultimately to sell their product/service.

What Are The Benefits Of Speaking In Public (And How Do They Present Themselves)?

Firstly, it is automatically assumed by the general public that anyone who is invited to speak, especially at a well-attended and well-respected event or function, is going to know what they are talking about. This is before they have even opened their mouth. Providing they actually give an acceptable talk as well, they are going to be in a good position to take on that much desired expert status in their industry or field.

When you attend a networking event, you are likely to have a decent conversation with only a handful of the other people in the room simply due to time constraints. There are usually too many people to engage with meaningfully on a one-on-one basis.  On the other hand, when you speak, you have a captive audience of everyone who is attending. This is a much more effective use of your time.

When you are speaking, you are concurrently doing a number of things. You are building your expert profile by providing useful information on your topic of expertise to an audience who is already interested in it (or they wouldn’t have chosen to attend), and you are also effectively selling your product/service and generating income for your business.

Where To Speak

It goes without saying that the impact of your speaking at an event depends on what it is.  To what extent you are able to build your profile and increase your influence definitely depends on the type of event, the other speakers and the people attending it.

You may already have an idea about the type of event you would like to address. Perhaps you have already attended a few in your area that appeal, and that normally attracts speakers of a high caliber.  These events are more likely to attract the type of audience that match your ideal clientele demographic.  Industry conferences, business networking events and gatherings may be perfect for you to address. If you are not sure whether they are suitable, I would suggest attending a few as a participant to gauge the quality of speaker and type of audience it attracts to see whether they would be beneficial to you.

Depending on your budget and time constraints, and obviously the type of client your business attracts, you may even decide to apply to speak at events that are in different parts of the country or indeed overseas. This will serve to raise your profile outside of your normal geographical area.

What To Speak On

Once you have decided where you would like to speak, think about your topic. This should be relevant to the event, audience and of course, your area of expertise.

As a public relations professional, I am very much against people speaking on a topic other than what they are trying to build their profile in. Obviously, if you already have an established profile and thriving business in your field, then feel free to be more adventurous in what you may like to speak on. However, if you are still trying to build your profile in your area of expertise, don’t confuse the issue among your prospective clients by speaking on something entirely different. Not only does this dilute all your efforts to date, but it results in lost opportunity for you to really cement your reputation in your chosen field.

While your talk will depend on what guidelines you are given by the event organizer, make sure you give the audience enough information for you to really shine as an expert in your field. If you are simply covering material that is already widely known, you are not giving the audience anything new and they are less likely to be impressed by your knowledge. If they want to know more, they can then choose to engage your products or services, however remember that you are also importantly establishing your reputation so you need to be impressive.

The Sell

Depending on guidelines given to you by the organizer of the event, there may or may not be an opportunity to briefly sell your products or services to the audience. If you have products, such as books or audio-visual material, ask about the possibility of selling it at the back of the room. If you draw attention to it during your talk, chances are most of the audience will make a purchase, particularly if you present a special offer for that day only.

You may also choose to sell a workshop or consultation for audience members at a special price. Provide forms for them to complete if they are interested and collect payment details that day.

If it is appropriate to promote your products or services during the presentation, just make sure that the entire presentation is not a hard sell. Nobody will be impressed if all you do is try to sell to them.

My Speaking Example

During high school, presentations in front of the class were common place and an important part of our mandatory assessment. I absolutely loathed public speaking. In fact, I was so painfully shy and intimidated by it, I begged my parents to take me to a hypnotherapist to change how I felt.  I did attend counseling but I am not sure it really made a difference.

I guess in the end I just grew out of my fear of public speaking. For one of my positions, as the National Communications Manager for an international real estate company, I had to provide workshops for business owners within the group on public relations, and I just got used to it. In fact, I even started to enjoy doing it.

Now, I regularly give talks and presentations in my field of expertise – public relations, profile building and gaining exposure, for local business networking groups. On Tuesday February 15th, I will be presenting “Branding YOU and getting exposure for it” at a local networking event aimed at women in business (men are welcome too!): Brisbane Woman. This is an important part of my business plan for my new business, Stratosphere Me. At the Brisbane Woman event, I will be promoting the first of a series of workshops I am rolling out across Brisbane from March.

If you are local, by all means book in and get an idea about how it’s done:

http://brisbanewoman.com/upcoming-workshops/

Kerry McDuling

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me – building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

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36 Comments

  • Alot of people who aren’t good at public speaking shy away from actually getting better at it, like all things if they just train at it they will get better. It takes time to generate the skills. Kerry, I know what you mean by high school presentations, seems like I’ve had alot of those as well in high school and college. I remember the days in middle school where I put a book in front of my face to cover myself while presenting, looking back on it that was quite embarrassing lol, but I’ve since become quite comfortable at speaking and as long as its a topic that I know about, I can speak in front of a crowd just fine.

    -Jean

    • Thanks for your feedback, Jean, and I am so glad you have conquered your fear! Do you do much public speaking nowadays and on what topics?

      Kerry

      • @Kerry, I am still in college, so the only public speaking that I do are on the projects that we get. Nowadays though its in the area of Finance.

        -Jean

        • Nicole

          what if you have an accent and people can’t hear you clearly? will it get better?

  • I’ve recently had the opportunity to speak at a small meetup. My personal take aways were that the presentation really depends on your audience, what kinda of a gathering it is, and the subject matter.

    Keeping things brief, to the point, and informative worked well for me. Details are good (depending on the event) but may go over peoples heads.

  • Kerry, I really enjoyed your post. Public speaking has always been somethng that I’ve dreaded, and at my last job it was somewhat of a necessity (I was a Director of Food & Beverage and had to address my department (which consisted of 125 employees) often.

    I always felt that people were laughing at me somehow, when in fact I’m sure that wasn’t the case. I guess it’s a matter of self-consciousness and getting over it can greatly benefit your confidence. Easier said than done, however!

    • HI Chris
      Thanks for sharing. Do you do much public speaking now in your new business? Are you planning to do more?
      Thanks,
      Kerry

  • Did you ever Toastmasters? If so, was it useful. I recently have discovered a couple of Toastmasters groups in my area and am considering attending one of them.

    • I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for more than an year. If you are serious about public speaking, join them as soon as you can. I improved dramatically. They have short six week beginner program called Speechcraft. Do it even if you are not planning to join the Toastmasters club. Go to a few clubs as a guest and find the one that suits you. They differ. Some a very formal, other are casual.

      Cheers,
      Egor

      • Hi Egor and Gordie, good question and no I have never been to toastmasters but I have heard that they are a great way to improve your speaking and confidence.
        Has anyone else got stories to share of their experiences with Toastmasters?
        Kerry

  • Speaking about your area of expertise is one of the best things you can do for your business. I have seen the success of this at our Brisbane Woman events time and time again. I know speaking at an International Womens Day event a few years back gave me the confidence to start running my own events. It really is a win/win.
    We are looking forward to hearing your talk on Tuesday night Kerry, as many business owners and solo entrepreneurs find it challenging to think of ‘themselves’ as a brand – which they really are. Speaking, writing articles, ebooks and a blog are all part of becoming a credible expert in your niche x

  • One interesting this I learned a few days ago that while Thomas Jefferson was an excellent writer and an undoubted genius in many respects, he only gave TWO speeches in his whole presidency- both of them inauguration speeches!

    Just saying public speaking skills aren’t absolutely needed. But useful nonetheless.

    • Hi Arthur, absolutely agree! Public speaking is sometimes mandatory fo your position, and other times not, but you can certainly go a long way in building your credibility and profile by speaking!

  • I want to do public speaking eventually, but don’t think I am ready to get in front of an audience yet.

    • same like me.. I always trembling when I must to talk to large audiences. LOL

      • Donny and Semmy, you will get there. Don’t push yourself and see if you can get the opportunity to practise in front of friends and family members. Good luck!

  • This would be hard for many people because of how scared they get talking in front of people, especially when you have something to prove to the audience. It is a good idea to sell the product at a review price or something, so hopefully they will spread the word on your product.

  • Cool insight! You really do have a point that when you are a speaker of an event, you tend to have this image to be some professional on your field and what you say is really reliable. As what you stated people thinks your already good on that topic even without opening yet your mouth. Also for networking, people tend to approach you more. So that is a big plus for your business marketing. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  • So true… the moment you stand up as an invited speaker… the rest think you are more credible… the challenge is to not lose that credibility the moment you open your mouth. I made a little 3 minute video on 4 steps to be a great public speaker 1) Have something to say 2) Say it well 3) Read the audience 4) Say it with intensity…

    How to have something to say? http://www.conorneill.com/2011/01/video-4-steps-to-great-public-speaking.html

    Great blog… good ideas

  • A well laid out article.

    As you have stated, unless you are a substantially establish brand it is best to stick to speaking on topics that are constant with the brand and profile that you are building.

    The key fundamentals of effective public speaking are the same as most things in life – Confidence and simplicity.

    As a structure for an effective presentation, here are a few pointers:

    1. Have one major theme and three key points to your presentation.

    2. Plan to talk for no longer than 20 minutes, if possible. – Audiences tend to lose concentration after 20 minutes without a break.

    3. At the start or you presentation, highlight the theme, the 3 key points and the timeframe of your talk – This helps structure the talk in the minds of your audience.

    4. At the end of your presentation review the theme and the 3 key points – This helps to create an effective take-home of the key message for your audience.

    5. Remember that your communication is 60,30,10 – 60% Body language, 30% Voice Tone and only 10% the words you actually speak.

  • Definitely endorse Toastmasters. Only practice, practice, practice will enable you to overcome your fears and speak with confidence.

    I know that confidence in public speaking can be hugely beneficial to my career. I’ve never done Toastmasters, but I come from a background of Speech and Drama in school. Still, I find that when I’m out of practice, those fears creep back in.

    I’ve had the enjoyable fortune of doing some side work as a wedding photographer in the Riviera Maya, where I must control large numbers of people. In such venues, I’ve discovered what impresses a large group you need to control is when you exudie confidence. I’ve had wedding guests tell me what a great photographer I was, even though they had not yet seen one picture! It was all because of the confidence I exuded as a photographer and being assertive in controlling the group.

    Though I don’t do Toastmasters, I think any opportunity like this can help you overcome the fear of standing before large crowds and being a better, more confident, speaker.

  • Kerry,
    You have some great points about public speaking. We must do what we are afraid to do and we will become much better at it.
    Thanks for the great tips!
    Karen

  • Wow! Great tips in here in how to do public speaking. It help me realize that i really need to boost myself to build more confidence in me when it comes to public speaking. Thanks for sharing it with us this opinion of yours.

  • Led

    I think in the public speaking, the topics should be on which you love to speak and will readily showcase your expertise to your audience.

    To add some meat to the description, create a benefits statement for each presentation and what they’ll learn or get out of your talk. the audience will always be asking the same question, “What’s In It For Me?”, so I think it is important to make the description so compelling that they think, “Hey, I’ve got to hear that!”

  • Hi Kerry,

    I really enjoyed reading your article, there is no doubt about the fact that public speaking is a great platform to connect with your intended audience. I believe you can reach out to a lot of people in a given time frame. People would always be more comfortable in doing business with you when they know the face behind the product/service. Connecting with people in person can build higher credibility and business owners must avail the opportunity to do so whenever they can. Thanks for sharing!

    Riya Sam
    Training for Entrepreneurs.com

    • Thanks for your feedback Riya, and glad you enjoyed the article. One of the most important principals that I teach is that these days, people prefer to do business with people, rather than brands! Become the face of your business!
      Kerry

  • Your point about making yourself the brand is very good. Being good and comfortable with public speaking is definitely an important skill to possess. I wasn’t too good at it either when I was young. But I always tried to overcome it and improve myself by speaking to a group whenever I could.

  • So far I have talked more in front of the children, and these tips are very useful to cheer.
    Thank you very much!

  • Awesome article Kerry, this is such an overlooked tactic for most internet marketers, probably because we, as internet marketers, enjoy staying behind our computers, which in most cases actually limits the potential growth of our business. Speaking gets you out into the marketplace, making connections, building your network, developin…g relationships and allowing the universe to bring to you the people, JV’s, events, circumstances that will propel your business! Happens to me every time I get out to attend or speak at events!

    Another bonus is you can easily record your speaking engagements and use that content not only to build your credibility, but also use the content for your blog, opt-in offers, or even products!! The possibilities are endless!!

  • The benefits of public speaking are endless. From boosting confidence to making your networking more efficient to increasing your reputation & credibility in regards to your business. Awesome post, your posts have stood out to me more than the others on this site – I look forward to reading more!

  • once again,i commend your article.very innovative..thanks for the post.

  • landscaping

    thanks for an ideal blog! Anyway, in my language, there are not much good source like this.

  • Kerry, i cannot public speaking. Because mostly many people don’t like my posts. But, you have done an great inspiration to me by this post.

  • Kerry,
    Thank you for the awesome article.

    I do believe that public speaking is a great couple to internet marketing and coaching.

    Online marketing relies heavily on the customer reading up about the product, watching a video, attend a webinar or listening to podcasts.

    Public speaking however is more real time, more proximity and it is much easier to project our sincerity, authority and passion. As we know that the highest quality of information does not come from words, but from our body language.

    Through the audience’s reactions, we can know whether we are headed in the right direction, or we could probably switch the gear of the presentation.

    Speaking is a very powerful way to engage our audience’s emotions and then lead them to the actual sale of our product.

    If this is a solo event, when you say “this deal is available in this session only”, it is more real. I believe if done well, it can generate more sales in a shorter timeframe than online marketing.

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