Once you feel confident about your presentation skills and your expertise in a particular field, consider speaking to professional organizations. Doing so has all the benefits of speaking to clubs and nonprofit organizations--and then some. It connects you with professionals in your field, establishes your credentials as an expert and generates free publicity.
Nancy Jensen, president of Medical Care Connections Inc. in San Diego, has built her medical public-relations company on the effectiveness of professional presentations in two ways.
First, she promotes the services of physicians and chiropractors by helping them give presentations to professionals in the workers' compensation field. "Insurance adjusters attend the seminars to keep up to date," says Jensen, "and in the process, become personally acquainted with the health-care provider who's giving the talk. These seminars are one of our most effective marketing tools."
Jensen also promotes her own business by speaking to professional organizations. As a result of a speech she made to a statewide convention of ambulatory-care-center administrators, she picked up a major new client. "It also gave me credibility and recognition as an expert," she says. "Now I get appointments with people who otherwise might not normally return my calls."
When you address a professional organization, you can speak longer--from 45 minutes to an hour--and in greater detail. Distribute handouts that highlight your central points, and be sure to include your name and phone number so people can contact you later. The same rules apply: Be focused, slant your talk to your audience and send out press releases.
You may not be able to afford a major marketing campaign, but you can't afford not to promote yourself and your business by speaking on your own behalf.