Speak Easy

Public speaking is a powerful tool for establishing yourself.

The person at the podium attracts the most attention. Why isn't it you--andyour business?

You know public speaking is a powerful tool for establishing yourself as anexpert in your field. You've been to public-speaking classes, you've perfectedyour style and you know your subject cold. But while many books have beenwritten on crafting and delivering perfect speeches, one question oftenremains: How do you get the gig?

If you're the CEO of a large, multinational company, you may have an agent orpublic relations department to book high-profile engagements for you. But ifyou're in charge of a smaller enterprise or new to public speaking, here aresome steps to take to make yourself the main attraction:

Start small. By beginning with small engagements, you'll be able topolish your skills in a low-risk environment. Check your newspaper for groupsthat may be looking for speakers for their monthly meetings.

Do your homework. If there's a particular industry you'd like to target,check with trade associations or clients in that industry to find out whichevents are the most important. Trade shows, conventions and other gatheringsoften have seminar programs, which offer great opportunities to speak to yourkey prospects.

Plan ahead. Call event organizers to find out the best time to submityour credentials. They may book events as far as a year in advance.

Find help. If you belong to any professional organizations, check to seeif they promote speakers from their membership. However, before you send moneyto pricey organizations and directories that promise to promote you, check themout.

Some engagements pay speakers an honorarium, ranging from a few dollars toseveral thousand. As you become more successful and well-known as a publicspeaker, this could become a profitable sideline to your business.