Speaking has recently become my most effective marketing strategy.
It’s the thing that now wins me the best clients in the fastest time.
A lot of people have said to me recently that they would love to get started as a speaker and use speaking as a marketing strategy so I thought I’d write something where I can share some things that have worked for me.
Believe it or not, 5 years ago the thought of speaking on stage in front of people made me want to run away screaming in a hot sweat so I really do get it and I have invested A LOT of time, energy and focus into finding some confidence and building some capability.
It has taken time, it has not been easy but I can honestly say that I’m reaping the rewards now and dare i say it, I really enjoy speaking now.
Back in my days as an in-house marketer I used to find people that were more technical than me or people with more years in business to speak at events, deliver webinars and get featured on podcasts. When I started my own business I had no one to hide behind…..
What I did know was that if you want to create change and impact a group of people then speaking in front of a specific audience is a great way to do that – you can share your authority, credibility and empathy with your audience and build trust much faster than a lot of other marketing channels.
There are also lots of different ways to use speaking as a marketing strategy too – it’s not just about delivering keynote talks on massive stages in big auditoriums.
💡Be a Guest on a podcast
💡Be a panelist at an event or on a webinar
💡Record and publish videos for social media
💡Deliver a webinar
💡Facilitate or chair a meeting
💡Host a podcast
So here are 10 things that have worked well for me to overcome my fear of public speaking, get started and impact more people.
Let’s dive in 🤿
Step 1 – Make a list of topics you care about around the subject you’d like to speak about.
I wanted to speak about marketing so wrote down things like: life as a one-person marketing team, LinkedIn marketing, Starting an olive oil business, how sales and marketing can work well together – just to name a few!
Sometimes writing down a list of topics you like to speak about to family and friends can also be a good place to start. It’s mainly about finding things you genuinely enjoy talking about, have an interest in and know something about and just talking more.
Step 2 – Find local events and groups
The best way to get started as a speaker is to get used to speaking in front of a crowd.
I chose small groups to start with that were supportive and had opportunities to speak for 5-20 minutes at a time – I found the local Women in Tech and Business Networking groups were good for this as well as webinars to small groups.
If you’re not yet ready to speak and show your face then being a guest on someone’s podcast and being interviewed is a good transition or delivering a webinar with slides – find a starting point that works for you.
You don’t have to jump in at the deep end (this is just something that works for me)
Step 3 – Speak at every opportunity
There’s a saying that the more you do the better you get and I believe that with speaking the nerves never really go away – you just get better at managing them.
Once you start looking for opportunities to speak you’ll see lots of them so just jump on any chance you get to say a few words or more.
I don’t really believe you’ll ever be a ‘perfect’ speaker or presenter as I’ve spoken to people at the top of their game and the one consistent is that you’re always learning and honing your craft.
I also believe that if your goal is perfection you’ll end up wading through mud or even stuck in it – work towards being better than you were yesterday and just keep moving forwards and improving.
Step 4 – Lie to yourself
Did you know that the feelings of nervousness and excitement are the same thing? A good friend of mine who’s a performance coach told me this and it really stuck.
Whenever you feel nervous before you speak or if you think about speaking – just lie to yourself and tell yourself you’re excited and not nervous! It makes a huge difference.
One of my mentors, Todd Herman wrote a wonderful book called The Alter Ego effect which is also a good method for reframing your feelings towards speaking and finding a way that works for you to put yourself out there. I highly recommend it.
Step 5 – Join the Professional Speaking Association
Joining the PSA was one of the best things I ever did. Not only do you join an incredibly supportive community that is very generous with sharing their time and expertise, you have the opportunity to learn from peers and practice your talks.
There are other speaking groups you can join that I’ve heard great things about such as Toastmasters.
Step 6 – Watch and listen to other speakers and make a note of styles and approaches you like and don’t like
Go to events and watch speakers on stage, watch YouTube videos, webinars and listen to podcasts – take notes and draw inspiration and ideas from others.
Important: All these people are just like you, they had to start somewhere and have just been doing it longer.
Step 7 – Ask for opportunities
Don’t wait for opportunities to come and find you – go out and find the opportunities you want.
Especially if you have a specific target audience in mind and you’re ready to start speaking in front of your intended crowd.
Ask people you know that have spoken at events or in groups you’d like to speak at or just give yourself a loving boot and approach hosts and speaker bookers directly.
Step 8 – Join a mastermind
A mastermind is a group of people that are working towards a similar individual goal. The PSA is great for finding people to be in a mastermind with but sometimes you can find people in other communities that want to speak more too.
The idea is that you meet regularly with these people, hold each other accountable, discuss opportunities and help each other through bottlenecks and challenges.
Step 9 – Find a mentor
This is another benefit of being part of the PSA but again there are plenty of people out there willing to mentor you and help you achieve your speaking goals.
Be clear about what you want to gain from working with a mentor and what you can offer them too.
Step 10 – 😎
Warning: This step is not for everyone but this one works well for me personally so I thought i’d include it.
Step 10 – Enter a competition or do something that really stretches you
In 2019 I entered the Speaker Factor Competition for my local PSA region. A competition for aspiring speakers where I had to speak for 5 minutes. You can watch my entry here
Everyone was judged on content, delivery, stage craft and bookability.
I won the regional event and went onto speak in the national final which was brilliant because I was able to increase my visibility within the Association too.
A year before this I entered an entrepreneurs competition to win $25,000. I had to submit a 3 minute video about my journey in my first year in business and made it through the semi finals and into the final where I had to share my story over 10 minutes to over 700 people at a marketing event in Orlando eeek!! It took me about a week to recover from that event and I didn’t enjoy the rest of it because I was so stressed out about speaking for that small period of time.
How to build confidence as a speaker – a quick comment
I once shared a stage at a Salesforce Women in Tech event in Nottingham with a speaker that blew me away. The talk she delivered was wonderful and I’ve been following her on social media ever since – it wasn’t the talk that blew me away, it was something she said on LinkedIn a few years later.
“We don’t need more confidence, we have all the confidence we need, it’s just buried inside us and we can find ways to draw it out and use it”
She didn’t say those exact words but something along those lines and that person is Kirsty Hulse (who I HIGHLY recommend following as she’s just brilliant
I used to think I needed more confidence as a speaker and when I saw this written, a lightbulb went in my head and I reframed my views around ‘needing more confidence’
There are a few things I’ve found work well to help draw out this inner confidence and those are:
- listening to high energy music that makes me feel amazing
- surrounding myself with peers and people that I know support me and want me to succeed
- Keeping a journal of learnings – always starting with what went well
- Writing down positive things people tell me about my talks and then looking back at them whenever I have a bit of a dip or moment of self doubt
- Working with a designer to create a brand you’re proud of and want to show off (I worked with the very talented Dee Woodward in 2020 to refresh my branding and every time I look at it (yes EVERY TIME) I get all those feel-good feelings)
To wrap up
There are some people that say ‘speaking isn’t for everyone’ and I personally disagree with this statement as I do believe everyone has a right and an opportunity to speak more. It’s up to you how you speak, who you speak to, what you speak about and how often.
If you want to start speaking or you want to work on your craft and speak more then make it your area of focus and make it happen. I use the OTTER framework every 12 weeks to set objectives around speaking and the results I want to expect from it.
I look at objectives around the number of leads, direct enquiries and customers I generate from that speaking opportunity, the number of speaking opportunities I have and also the type of feedback I receive.
I’ve recently been asked to speak at events aimed at speakers to share how to use the OTTER Framework to attract more speaking gigs as well as how to use speaking as an effective marketing strategy so watch this space for more content around these topics.
I truly hope this article has been useful and given you some ideas – I’d also LOVE to hear from you if you’re embarking on your own speaking journey so please get in touch and share what you’re doing and if I can support you in any way just let me know!