with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
Every other month, I try to schedule some kind of speaking engagement to help promote my business, but I’m very particular about my speeches. I always make sure to provide valuable and practical information to my audience and not try to sell them on my services.
I’ve been to far too many lectures and panels where the speakers are doing nothing more than selling what they offer, and everyone leaves the event disappointed and often even angry. Ultimately, by being a great public speaker and providing truly useful information, you are selling yourself - and your products or services - in a much more effective way.
If you are thinking about public speaking in your area as a viable marketing tactic, here are some things to consider first.
1. Can you speak in public? Some people literally panic when put in front of a crowd to speak. If you’ve got a phobia about public speaking, it is definitely something you can overcome over time, but don’t use actual speaking engagements as testing grounds. You might consider a coach who specializes in public speaking and work with them to find your voice.
2. What do you have to say? Come up with a list of 5-10 topics that you could cover with absolute authority because of your work and expertise. I find that if I speak about what I know, I rarely even need notes. If I try to speak about a topic that requires research, I bomb. My best topics are: Marketing, public relations, Web 2.0, community building, virtual worlds, entrepreneurship and women’s issues.
3. How can you position yourself as a potential speaker? Create a media kit - either online, offline or both - that markets you as a speaker or panelist. Include a bio that highlights major accomplishments in your field, copies of relevant articles you have published, a photograph (usually an 8×10 black and white headshot), a list of topics you can cover, and over time you can include a list of places you’ve spoken and testimonials from people who have heard you speak.
You can’t be too obvious about offering your services as a speaker. Your company Web site should include a clear statement “If you’d like to book Jane Doe as a speaker at your event…” with clear contact information.
So What Should You Charge?
The hardest part about public speaking for me is setting my rate. Because I most often speak to small local women’s organizations with even smaller budgets, I tend to let those groups set my rates. However, if I’m being asked to speak at a national or international event in another location, I let them know that my speaking rate is $7500. (It took me years to build up to this amount. Interesting note: Very few women speakers break the $10,000 mark unless they are very well-known. Male speakers, however, often command more.)
If this is within their budget, I’ll refer them to my speaking agent. If they gasp in alarm, I politely ask them what their budget allows. Then I weigh out the pros and cons of speaking at the event. At a minimum, if travel is involved, you should get the host to cover all travel and accommodation expenses. Also ask them what their typical honorarium is for speakers. Most often it is a few hundred dollars.
Keep in mind that these tactics are only if you are just starting out. Once you are an established speaker - or once you have published a book that positions you as an expert - you can command more than just expenses and a small honorarium. Also, panelists tend to get paid a lot less (if anything) than seminar leaders who get paid less than keynote speakers.
In the next post I’ll cover how to find public speaking engagements.
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