Speak Up!

Join The Club

Speaking to clubs, civic groups and nonprofit organizations is another way to promote your business. Each time you speak, you meet potential customers, network with professionals, establish credibility and gain free publicity. (Clubs such as the Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions are always looking for good speakers.)

Rich Manuccia had been a personal fitness trainer for 13 years when his business coach convinced him to give public presentations to attract new clients. In the past two years, he has spoken to several different groups: Kiwanis clubs, weight-management groups at community hospitals, a health fair and even a gathering of nuns.

"Few of the speaking engagements paid me anything," Manuccia says, "but they put me in front of potential clients and referral sources. People are still contacting me as a result of those talks."

At a speaking engagement, follow these steps:

  • Be focused. Tell people how to do something--one thing.
  • Slant your subject toward your audience. Keep the basic content the same, but tweak it 10 percent (usually by adapting your examples and stories to your audience). Examples: "How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off--A Program for Professionals Who Travel" (or "for the Confirmed Couch Potato," etc.).
  • Be brief. Stay within the time limits your host suggests. If possible, speak for 15 to 20 minutes, then take questions from the floor.
  • Be simple and direct without being simplistic. Tell stories and give examples.
  • To get your speeches noticed, send press releases to local newspapers, trade journals and business publications.

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This article was originally published in the February 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Speak Up!.

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