Maximizing public speaking opportunities

Make the most of speaking opportunities before, during and after

Great news – you just secured an exciting public speaking opportunity!  Perhaps you will be the keynote speaker at a national industry trade conference, or the featured presenter at the monthly meeting of the local chapter of a professional association, or somewhere in between. The question is, outside of preparing a fantastic speech and presentation, how do you make the most of your star turn?

These opportunities are invaluable because they give you the chance to further your career by positioning yourself as an expert and thought leader in your field. But that won’t happen by itself.  To maximize your speaking opportunity, you need to drive attention beforehand; make the most of it in the moment; and then, extend the conversation afterwards. Here’s how you do it:   

Phase I: Pre-Event

  1. Create a written plan — start at least three months in advance by creating a specific, written plan and timeline. Research and solicit ideas from the best communicators or marketers you know.
  2. Contact the news media – research industry trends and incorporate analysis of them into your presentation to ensure relevancy. Reach out to editors with industry trade publications or local business media and offer to brief them on insights regarding the trends you identify in your presentation, especially if their reporters are planning to attend the conference/event.  Many conferences have their own publication and should be included in your media list.  If a publication runs a story that includes your content, be sure to share on social channels and consider a paid boost of the post.
  3. Contact the conference/event PR team – contact the PR team that’s promoting the conference or event in advance. Ask them about their plans to promote your presentation on social media and the event website and offer to coordinate with them. Ask them about media that have registered to attend and offer to act as interview source for media outreach they make.
  4. Create a pre-event buzz – utilize social media to tease content that you will be presenting onsite. Use the conference’s hashtag in your post to help you connect with attendees. Tag individuals in your pre-event posts who you know will attend and ask them to comment and share. Invite individuals to DM you to meet on site at the conference. Offer to promote the sessions of other presenters on your social channels if they are willing to do the same for you.
  5. Promote the speaking opportunity on your blog — write a blog on the topic of your presentation. Tease some of the content and invite people to attend.
  6. Include the event in your e-mail signature – Be sure to include a line in your email signature letting people know you’ll be speaking and include the event link. After the event, include a link to a video recording of your presentation.

Phase II: On-Site

  • Gather content on site – be sure to capture and post lots of photos and video onsite at the conference leading up to, during and after your presentation. Consider using an app like Hootsuite to schedule posts during your presentation. Photos and videos are algorithm friendly and will help drive more traffic and attention.
  • Invite contacts to connect on social media — direct new contacts you meet onsite to your social channels and invite them to connect and share your content. Invite people to connect during your presentation and include your social media handles on every slide. As appropriate, you might want to post photos of the two of you together at the conference and tag your new contact.
  • SlideShare – upload your slides to SlideShare and share the link with your audience and on social media just before taking the stage and again after.

Phase III:  Post-Event

  1. Tag new contacts — look for opportunities to continue to tag contacts you met onsite at the conference in your social posts. Invite those who haven’t connected with you on social media to do so.
  2. Pulse out info post-event — afterwards, continue to pulse out conference content. Highlight specific insights or data points in social media and provide a link to the complete presentation if possible. Try to include a photo of you at the conference with each post. You might even consider a video snippet of your presentation as the visual to accompany the link. Invite contacts who attended the conference and/or our presentation to like, comment and share.
  3. Start planning for your next speaking engagement – Once you have used these steps to promote a speaking engagement, you will see the value of it and want more. Start now to secure and promote your next opportunity.

I haven’t mentioned any tips for writing your speech or developing the visuals of your presentation. That deserves its own blog post, so look for that in the near future. Meantime, I hope you make the effort to try these tips that I’ve shared. Don’t be reluctant to set aside some serious time, as it’s really an investment in your personal brand and will generate a rich return.  Feel free to share your own ideas for maximizing speaking engagements in the comments below.

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