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Newsletter #708: The “Get Word of Mouth for a Speech” Issue

Most executives put a ton of work into making speeches… and get nothing out of it. Use these tactics to get new business every time you speak:

1> Have a handout
2> Ask for business cards
3> Never, ever, ever tell them what you do
4> Do something silly
5> Your slides do, in fact, suck
6> Give them a reason to go to your web site

1> Have a handout

Don’t let anyone walk out of that room without something in their pocket. At the end of a conference they’ll have heard 20+ speakers, and they’ll never remember you. Don’t pass out a brochure (blatant and boring) or printouts of your slides (just boring). Create a one-page or smaller tip sheet or summary. Make it something useful that they’ll want to put in their pocket. Bookmarks work well, and they’re cheap to print and easy to carry. Get to the room 15 minutes early so you can put one on everyone’s chair. 

2> Ask for business cards

Hoping that a few people come up to you after the session is a pretty chancy way to get good leads. At the start of your speech ask for everyone’s business card and pass around an envelope. If you promise not to spam them, and promise something of value, almost everyone will do it. Offer to email your slides, send a sample in the mail, or share some new research. 

3> Never, ever, ever tell them what you do

Admit it: You HATE it when a speaker puts up that salesy slide that talks about their company. They always make some awkward comment about it (and then do it anyway). And then… you do the same thing. After a single self-promotional slide, you’ve annoyed everyone, they’ve stopped listening, and you just told everyone that you’re an amateur. Remember, they already know who you are or they wouldn’t have come to the speech! 

4> Do something silly

Even the best conference is deadly boring. Do something that gets people to remember you. Pass around a bag of candy, start with a cool song, or give everyone a fun sample. You can be professional and still memorable. You may feel uncomfortable, but the audience will be eager for some laughs and they will support you. 

5> Your slides do, in fact, suck

Everyone’s do. Especially executives’. Just because you’re a great speaker or a wonderful business person, there is no reason to think you are a good presentation designer. Get someone from your design department to clean them up for you. Pay a freelancer $500 for a template you can use for all of your speeches. It’s hard to deliver a professional message standing in front of a homemade slide show. 

6> Give them a reason to go to your web site

Put something valuable your web site, such as a downloadable document, a useful spreadsheet, or follow-up material. If you get them to your site after the speech, your site will make the sale for you. The speech impresses them, the download brings them back, and the site closes them. Best of all is a weekly newsletter just like this one. You can turn a single speech into 52 weekly contacts each year.

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  1. Paul Chaney September 23, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    These are great tips Andy and very helpful at a time when I’m trying to amp up my speaking opportunities. Just the thing I needed to give me that edge. Thanks!

  2. JOANNE MASON September 23, 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    Great tips, Andy. Speakers who dare to break out
    of the usual boring mode and give a fun
    presentation are always more memorable and make
    you want to tell others about them. Thanks,

  3. Terri in Tokyo November 25, 2008 at 9:11 am #

    great tips, Andy, thank you! I’m thinking about how to incorporate the thinking behind them into a paid workshop, too.

  4. Mike Buckley November 25, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    Thanks for the tips. I’d also suggest that when you get all those business cards, you follow them on twitter. Adding them to your online community is a great way to follow up and remind them of your presentation.

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