One of the greatest fears that people have is public speaking — people would rather deal with snakes, spiders, even death than have to get up and speak to an audience.
It’s too bad, because one of the best business-building tactics is to demonstrate your knowledge to a receptive audience. It pays to be able to speak well in public, and of course it helps if you have a little charm as well.
Public speaking is particularly effective if your business has a service or consulting component (actually if you are not selling services along with products you may be missing a high-margin bet). People like to be educated rather than sold, so if you are an expert in, say, interior decorating or adventure tours, you could hold a seminar entitled, “The Ten Interior Decorating Improvements that Increase Your Home’s Value Most” or “Planning an Adventure You’ll Remember for the Rest of Your Life.” Retail shop owners can offer in-store demos or hands-on workshops like the ones you see at Home Depot and the other “big box” stores.
Naturally you won’t have time to provide all the secrets you have learned about your subject in these sessions; after all, this is your business and you don’t want to make yourself redundant. But if you carefully plan an interesting agenda that informs, educates, and whets the appetite of the attendees, you’ll likely get some inquiries on using your services — not everyone wants to do it themselves!
And what’s more, you will have identified yourself to people who are obviously interested in what you provide; otherwise, why would they even come? If you want to make sure they’re the right people, identify who should attend. You could say something like, “if you are thinking of selling your home in the next six months, this seminar is for you.” Or, “if you have never been on an adventure vacation, this is the seminar for you.”
But whatever you do, be sure to plan your program and do a few practice run-throughs. You’ll need to see how much time it will take – count on it taking longer than planned. Make sure there’s two-way communication with the audience; ask for questions from time to time.
Have some handouts, like a sheet of “tips and tricks,” insider techniques that you use to do what you do. Or give samples of your product.
If you’re going to do this more than once, ask for feedback and hand out a survey form at the end to ask how you did or what could be added.
And if you’re really serious about building business, hold a drawing for a small prize of some kind, and in doing so, get everyone’s name and contact info. Put a check box on the entry form asking if they’d like more information from you. If they say “yes,” you have permission to market to them in the future.
Public speaking can open a lot of doors. Try it and see.
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