Today we have a fun topic that’s also perhaps one of the most important things to get right when you sponsor or get involved with an event. What we’re talking about is how to make the most of any opportunity you might have to speak on stage or in front of a group at an event.
It really can be a game changer for your business if you land an event speaking opportunity because it gives you the chance to convey some of your most thought-provoking insights about your industry, customer trends, or how companies like yours are overcoming common challenges.
When you take the stage, you also have the ability to inspire people to put your key lessons into action and to make a deeper connection with your brand that they didn’t have before. Sounds great, right?
But it’s actually easy to mess this up.
The biggest challenge with landing a speaking opportunity is that even if you are really comfortable talking or presenting 1:1 with people, how you show up in front of an audience is not always the same.
The good news is that audiences are very accepting of a wide range of presentation styles. You don’t need to be a professionally-trained speaker to engage the audience in a meaningful way. Hell – you’re speaking for a reason, right? We don’t need to you, “you’ve got outstanding experience, insight, and skills”! All you need to do is apply these tips to make it a success.
That’s right! Let’s jump to the first one.
Hack #1: Narrow Down Your Topic
When you’re planning your topic, one of the biggest mistakes that’s easy to make is letting the topic be too broad, general or trying to try to cover too many topics in one session.
It’s really helpful if you can list out for yourself what are the 2-3 learning objectives of your session. A learning objective is what you want your audience to be able to explain, do, or understand by the end of your session. You should be able to test people on the learning objectives. With your learning objectives clearly defined, that will set you up for the next one.
Absolutely correct. We always tell our speakers that the end goal is to have our participants walk away to 2 – 3 key nuggets of information or insight they didn’t have before they sat down.
Hack #2: Know Your Why
This one is important. Why do people need to attend your session? Why NOW?
This tip will help ensure that your content does not go stale.
It might be tempting to use the same presentation or talk that you have given in other settings, but to really make sure you maximize your speaking opportunity, make sure to check in with the why. Treat each event as a unique opportunity to connect with new people. For the group that you’ll be talking to…why should they attend? Why now?
Hack #3: Use Stories
You can move beyond the basic presenting advice of “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.”
Now, audiences don’t always want to be told things. They want to be shown. And we “show” through storytelling.
With stories, you have the opportunity to take the audience on a journey with you. They get to feel how hard you worked on the challenges, they get to feel the joy you felt when you discovered your insight, and they get to connect with the impact they could have by adopting your ideas.
Hack #4: Get Interactive
I’d say it’s pretty common to see presenters these days incorporating live polls in their presentations, which is great b/c it keeps the audience engaged and gives some immediate context for the presentation.
But why not take it a step further. You could have reflection or question cards on the tables that people fill out before your presentation to get their mind going.
You could create mini-challenges that you let the audience members do in pairs or small groups.
One that I personally love more than live polling thru mobile apps is color cards. Green = Agree, Yellow = Not sure, Red = Disagree or however you want to set it up. It’s a great and simple way to keep the audience engaged and seeing where they sit in relation to their peers on the topic. The point here – get creative!
Tip #5: Overcome Jitters by Personally Meeting 3-4 Audience Members Beforehand
Even the most experienced presenters still get nervous before a big speaking engagement. One great way to overcome the pre-presentation jitters is to make sure you are at the event well before your on-stage appearance.
During that time, make it a point to immerse yourself into the group of participants and quickly find a handful of people that you get along with. Feeling like you know the people in the room even a little bit can do wonders for helping you feel connected to them from the stage.
If you can’t spend a lot of time before your appearance, even shaking hands and exchanging a few pleasantries with a few nearby people before you go on stage will help a lot.
It’s true, if you can get rid of those jitters, your content is going to come across that much stronger and you’ll really improve the perception of your brand. I also find it really valuable to use that time to gauge the audience skill or experience levels. This way I can tweak a bit on the fly knowing where their mind space is.
So there you have it for today—5 key tips for making the most of an Event Speaking Opportunity.
Let us know your best speaking tips in the comments below, and be sure to join us for our upcoming event: Marketing Impact 2020: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange happening in California this July.
We’ll be speaking at this year’s event, so we invite you to join to see if we’re practicing what we preach! Plus – there’s no better event to immerse yourself in marketing strategy conversations and creating career-enhancing relationships! Visit marketingmindXchange.com for full details.
Until next time, remember to grow your brand…and drive demand!