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How to Promote Your Business by Speaking in Public

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/24/2007 | Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, public speaking has to be one of the most effective ways of marketing yourself. There are countless opportunities out there for you to get yourself in front of your target market. There is no better way to have a captive audience full of prospects. It is the fastest way of establishing yourself as an expert.

You dont have to be a professional speaker to speak in public. Just doing a reasonable job is better than not doing anything at all.

Prospects are much more likely to engage your services if theyve seen you speak. Lets look at the following example. Say you were looking for an accountant. Would you be more inclined to trust someone you had found in the Yellow Pages, or someone you had heard speak knowledgeably at the local Chamber of Commerce?

Look into opportunities in your local area where you can offer to speak for free. Professional associations, networking groups, Chambers of Commerce, educational bodies and Rotary Clubs are all potential public speaking venues. They often look out for speakers for their events, meetings and workshops.

Also research the audience that is going to be at your talk. For example, what industries are they likely to represent? Are they from large or small companies? What would interest them? What angle should your presentation take?

When it comes to finalizing your speech topic, be sure to make it sound enticing and interesting. People often decide whether to attend a talk based on just the title so put some serious thought into this.

Practice is key to coming across in a professional manner and reducing nerves. Write your speech out in full, but never read it verbatim. Have an outline prepared and available for you to refer to.

Check with the event organizer how long you have for your talk. Include timing in your practice runs. There is nothing worse than having a speaker run over time.

Get the most mileage out of your presentation by having some promotional material at the back of the room, for example some business cards, flyers or brochures that people can take with them if they wish.

You can be even more proactive and set up a newsletter before starting to give speeches. At the end of your presentation you can encourage your audience to sign up for your newsletter in exchange for a promotional gift or free e-book. That way you have also added valuable contacts to your database.

Many entrepreneurs swear by public speaking as a way of building and maintaining a steady stream of clients for their businesses.