How would you like a prospecting opportunity that’s not only free, but includes a meal in the bargain? They’re occurring all around you, five days a week. Local service clubs (Lions, Rotary, Moose, Optimist, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, etc.) are constantly in need of speakers for their regular breakfast and lunch meetings. As a professional speaker and trainer myself, with more than two decades of speaking experience, I can tell you that speaking at these events can be a prospecting gold mine, giving you valuable exposure at absolutely no cost.
What’s that? You’re not a professional speaker? Don’t worry. You don’t need to be. But you do need to know what you’re doing. Here are some tips for making an effective presentation to a local group.
Start with the End
What do you want your audience to think once you are finished speaking? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do? (Besides give you a standing ovation of course.) To create your message, start with the end result you want and work backward from there.
Your topic should not be your product or service, no matter how awesome you think it is. Yes, this is a sales opportunity, but you are being invited to share information, ideas, and insights, not to sell to the audience. Nobody wants to listen to a twenty minute commercial. Instead, make your presentation practical for their lives or businesses. Give them the benefit of your professional experience and expertise.
Get Some ELP
An effective presentation combines three elements: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos refers to the credibility and believability of the speaker. This can be established by giving the person who introduces you a written introduction that highlights your experience and credentials. Logos means logical argument and progression. Use facts, figures, and reason. Pathos refers to emotional impact. Tell stories to create an emotional connection.
Keep it Simple
Leave your PowerPoint slides at the office. When I’m conducting a sales training seminar or delivering a keynote speech at a conference, I typically use slides; but for a small event like a service club meeting, I prefer to keep it simple. You don’t want to deal with the hassle of a projector, computer, screen, etc., unless it’s absolutely necessary. Besides, most amateur speakers just use slides as a crutch, which you don’t want to do. Right?
Be a Clock Watcher
The time allotted for guest speakers is typically ten to thirty minutes, although it can occasionally be more. Find out in advance how much time you are being given and tailor your presentation to fit. Going too long indicates to your audience a disrespect for their time and will turn them against you. Also, be prepared to cut down your presentation if the meeting goes long. Your audience, and especially your host, will greatly appreciate it.
Let Them Take You Home
No matter how good a speaker you are, people will forget you soon after you leave. A handout helps them remember you and doubles as a prospecting tool. It can be something they take notes on, an information sheet, or both. Alternatively, it can be a laminated wallet card, a bookmark, or some other small, handy item. In any case, it should be something of lasting value to give them reason to look at it repeatedly. And, of course, it should include your complete contact information.
Give Something to Get Something
Bring a prize to give away. (Ideally, your product or service.) It can be big or small. And the more, the merrier. To enter the drawing, audience members put their business cards into a container. That way, you get everybody’s contact information and you can follow up with them afterward. (Remember, the whole point of this is prospecting!)
Hone Your Skills
As I mentioned, you don’t have to be a professional speaker, but you do need to be decent in front of an audience. If your speaking skills are not as good as you would like them to be, do one of three things: Take a public speaking class through an adult education program in your area, join a Toastmasters International club, or work with a professional speech coach. Above all, practice.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to say (and practiced a lot), start asking people in your network what groups they’re involved with and who is responsible for finding speakers. Depending on their schedules, groups may book speakers several days or several months in advance.
On the day of the meeting, arrive early and plan to stay late. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards because you’ll have a great opportunity to network both before and after the event.
Being a guest speaker at service club meetings provides you with both visibility and credibility.
This unique combination, coupled with the fact that it’s FREE, makes it a potent sales tactic. So figure out what you’ve got to say, practice saying it, and go find an audience that needs to hear it!