Sunday, February 19, 2006

Three Steps to Creating a Web presence on a "No" Budget

The task of creating a web presence can be rather intimidating if you have no prior experience. Well it is actually fairly simple once you know where to start. The best part is if you have a low to no budget to work with you can still make a name for yourself on the web. Here are three places to start.
  1. www.Blogger.com - Here you can create your own blog on your area of expertise. It is free to sign up and it is so easy to get started. It took me about ten minutes to get this site up and running. I have had some experience creating websites for myself, however I believe the set-up and maintenance of a blog on this site is so simple that even a person with basic computer skills could maneuver through the interface to maintain their blog.
  2. www.squidoo.com- This is a concept that is similar to wikipedia. What you do is create a "lens". This page is on a topic that is related to your area of expertise. An added bonus is that you earn a bit of income every time someone clicks on your page. I have not tried this option yet, but have thoroughly explored the site and some of the pages on the site on topics that interest me. I do plan on making my own lens. Ah, So many things to do, so little time. This is also a free service and appears to be very easy to set up.
  3. www.netfirms.com- This is the site I have used to host websites I have created in the past. You do have to create your own site in this case with your own software or sofware you can get through them. The service I used was the free hosting plan. I have been with them for five years and have not had any problems. The one thing I like about their free hosting plan is that their is no pop-up ands on your site. They do place some banner adds at the top of your page that are appropriate to the subject of your site.
There are other places on the web to explore. However these are the one I have been exposed to and like. I will provide information about other services I am exposed in my great web journey as I come across them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hold Events to Market Your Business

Holding an event to market yourself can create buzz about you and your business. You don't have to hold a three ring circus to draw attention to yourself. Here are some tips.

  • Invite a celebrity- Invite the mayor or prominent person such as a well known entertainer in your community to your event. This can be a great way to attract attention to your event. If you let the media know they may even come out and cover it. Recently my wife and I held a non-profit event and had some entertainment from a folk singer that was fairly well known in our community. The media came to cover the event. Mainly they were interested in seeing the entertainer. Unfortunately he had already left and we were packing up when they got there and we missed the opportunity to get some free media coverage for the cause we were supporting which was Amnesty International. This is also an example of the hit or miss nature of marketing yourself this way. As in any type of marketing your persistence will pay off and you may get the media coverage your event deserves next time.
  • Events with other people that are close to your niche- As a massage therapist I participated in a Alternative Health Fair for a number of years. A local Reiki Therapist organized this event every year. What she would do is book the auditorium at a local community center and have us pay twenty dollars per table. The proceeds after the expenses were paid would go to charity. This event was organized and promoted mainly by the people who participated in it. This idea could work for any small business. If you are a caterer why not hold a Food Lovers Fair and sell tables to other food related companies. A personal accountant could sell tables to lawyers or investment brokers. Also information sessions could be offered throughout the day by the various companies that are in attendance.
  • Sponsor an event- You could sponsor a night of entertainment by a well known artist. Ideally at your place of business. Also your audience could be the entertainment. My wife and I used to go to a spoken word night once a month at a local coffee shop. At this event audience members would get up and tell poems. Also there would be singing and dramatic storytelling. They sold a lot of coffee those nights. They would donate the proceeds to charity. Another thought I had as a Massage Therapist was to sponsor a local fun run. I never did get to do this( I can't do it all).
So now you have an event. How do you promote it? Contact local newspapers, radio stations and your local TV station. Providing you are running a non-profit event they should be able to list you in their community bulletin for free. Make sure you know the proper timeline for your submission. Generally you should submit your posting to them at least a month or two in advance. Every outlet has a different deadline for submissions. You could also send a press release before your event. Pass out flyers to your clients and post flyers in laundrymats and grocery stores. Finally you could call a reporter to interview you or invite them to the event.

These are just some ideas to get you started. If you need any further ideas let me know. Have you held an event? Could you describe your event to us?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Three Additional Tips for Writing Your Speech

Here are some more tips for writing your speeches:

  • Engage senses- In my last post I used the example of the mouse in the maze and how he could smell, taste and touch the cheese. Engaging the senses draws your audience into your speech and helps them visualize what you are talking about. Here is another example to illustrate the effectiveness of this technique. I want you to see a nice yellow lemon in front of you. Now pick it up and feel the soft ,dimpled skin in you hands. Now I want you to smell the lemon. Smell the sweet lemon smell . I want you to peel the lemon. Feel the juice running between your fingers. I want you to take a bite of the lemon. You can taste the sweet sourness of it. Your mouth should be watering by now. I know mind is. As you can see this technique is particularly effective for topics related to food. If you have a business that involves food, use this technique in your speeches often.
  • Use conversational language- Use short concise sentences that are very conversational in manner. Avoid jargon. To be sure you are on track read your speech out loud. When you are writing your speech imagine you are having a conversation with them. Think of your audience as one person that contains all their characteristics if that makes it easier for you to get into this mode.
  • Start with a framework- One technique you can use initially is to create a framework or layout plan for your speech. Start by writing the heading "opening" on the top of your page. Leave room under that to write in your opening. Then point one, point two and point three. Under these points put the appropriate number of sub points. Finally create a heading that says closing. So it should look something like this.
Opening



point 1
Sub Point 1
Sub Point 2

Point 2
Sub Point 1
Sub Point 2

Point 3
Sub point 1
Sub Point 2


Closing

Using this approach will give you a basic outline of your speech. Then you can write your speech verbatim following this outline. If you have your speech well enough memorized you can use the outline for your notes during your speech. When I write a speech I usually just write the framework out and then as I practice I will elaborate on each point extemporaneously. So each time I deliver it it is not totally the same. If it is a topic I don't know as much about I may still write it out verbatim and then memorize it. Iit took me a long time to get to this point. In the beginning I would have my word for word script in front of me to refer to during my presentation.

If you follow these three tips you will definitely improve your speech writing skills. Your best speech writing technique is practice. The more speeches you write the better you will become at it.

Write your Speech

Any good speech just like any good story contains the three essential elements which are an opening, body and closing. Today I am going to give you ideas about what to write in these sections of your speech.
  • The Opening- A good speech should start with a strong opening. This could be a quote or metaphor.
  • The Body- One common method in approaching the body of a speech is to have a number of points related to your topic and then elaborate on each. If you have a five minute speech you probably will not want to speak on more than three points. Any more and your audience probably will not be able to keep up or remember what you have talked about. For longer speeches adjust the number of points accordingly. Also you could still keep it to three points and spend a little more time on each. You can use metaphors, quotes or personals anecdotes to support your points is an example of using a metaphor to support a point. Recently I gave a talk on types of speeches used in the workplace. The point I was supporting was on speeches to persuade. I said to the audience "I want you to imagine you are a little mouse in a maze. At the end of the maze is a big block of cheese. You can smell the strong aroma of the cheese. You can almost taste the tanginess of the cheese and you can feel the soft texture of the cheese in your paws". I then stated that "Just like a mouse in a maze, in persuasive speeches you are helping the audience navigate the maze to arrive at your piece of cheese"
  • The Closing- Finish with a call to action or quote. You could also use a statement that ties into what you said in the opening of you speech. Just as in the opening you want the closing to be memorable. Another good thing to do in your closing is to reiterate what you talked about throughout your speech. This will help your audience remember what you have just talked about. Especially in a longer speech.
If you follow these basics you will have a well written speech. In the next article I will talk about some additional speech writing tips.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Create Positive Word of Mouth Through Free Speeches Part 2

So, now that you have booked your first speech, what do you do next. You need to plan your talk. I am going to give you some ideas about how to approach your speech.

  • You want to present the talk as an informational session. Avoid turning your talk into an extended sales pitch. The talk should present information that is interesting and useful. They should have information they can use at home such as how to do simple repairs if you are a repair service. When I gave these speeches I talk about information I want them to know like the effects and benefits of massage therapy, but I also give them information they can use at home such as how to do a self massage or a simple shoulder massage. The key is to be as generous as possible with your information. If they feel you are giving them information that they can use they will repay you by doing business with you.

  • Keep the information at a fairly basic level. I wouldn't talk about the physiology of massage. That information would probably be over the heads of my audience. Similarly if you are a computer expert you would not talk about processors and HTML unless you were at a computer users group.

  • Give clients handouts, flyers and business cards. You should have an information hand out or flyers that are interesting enough that clients may refer to again. A tip sheet based on the topic you have talked about would be great! Also give out fyers and business cards about your business if the group you are presenting to allows this. At the least they would most likely allow you to leave information out that participants can retrieve after your session.

  • The session should also be interactive by utilizing a flipchart to write down points from the audience. You could also do little exercises with participants such as splitting into groups to discuss topics or perform an exercise such as a role-play.

  • Finally have the participants fill in a feedback form at the end of your session, so that you can get feedback to grow on.

If you follow some of these points I have outlined you will be well on your way to becoming a speaker that becomes known and respected in your community.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Create Positive Word of Mouth Through Free Speeches Part 1

Public speaking for non-profit groups can be very rewarding. It is also a great way to get your name out in the community and gain some respect. Getting booked as a speaker for groups is actually not very difficult. However as anything does it takes planning and effort.

Personally I have spoken for many non-profit groups which include "Canadian Mental Health", "Parent's Are People Too" and Seniors Centres. Aside from the promotional aspect of this I found it fun and interesting sharing my knowledge with these groups.

I would like to share with you how I was able to get booked as a speaker. A side note.
If you are looking to become a professional speaker as your main business or as a side business, this approach is ideal for "cutting your teeth" so to speak. So this is all good. Now what next? Here are the steps.

  1. Develop a contact list- Usually public libraries keep a list of non-profit groups that contain addresses and contact persons for those groups. Photocopy or write down this list. Ideally type the list into your mail merge program on your computer. You may want to call the contact persons to make sure the information such as address and whether or not they are currently the contact for the group.
  2. Prepare a mail-out- Write a one page business format letter stating your interest in speaking to a particular group. Ideally if you have the time you should tailor each letter to that particularly group. Also list what topics you are willing to speak on. For example some of the topics I can and have spoke on as a massage therapist are Aromatherapy, Stress Relief and Therapeutic Exercises. Try to list at least five topics related to your field of expertise. If you have had some interesting life experiences such as working for the Peace Corps you could also offer to speak on that. Remember you are the product that is being sold here. Ideally they should remember you. In time they may use your product or service if they get to know you and trust you.
  3. Follow-up your letters with a phone call- Three weeks to a month later. Don't get discouraged. Typically as in an other forms of marketing you can expect a one to two percent response at best. Of course that will depend on your profession and how much interest there is in your message.
  4. Publicize your speech before or after- With the groups approval and if it is appropriate you can list your event in community bulletins or publish a press release before or after the date. You will build good-will and name recognition using this approach. Other groups may notice you are available as a speaker.
So that is really all there is to it. In time my experience has been you will get some referals to other groups to speak at and as you can see if you have a really hot topic or are a real go getter this definitely has a lot of potential to really grow your business.

In part two we will discuss what to do once you get your first speech.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Don’t Let Fear Conquer Your Greatest Marketing Asset, Your Voice

Public Speaking. Do these two words strike fear in your heart?

Do not let this fear stop you. You do not want to miss this opportunity to market yourself. Even if you are selling a product, you are still the main product that needs to be sold. After all if your customers don’t like or trust you they will not do business with you. Public speaking is a prime opportunity to highlight the benefits of doing business with you. In this article I will share some ideas to help you work through this fear.

I can still remember giving my first speeches in grade school. I would find a topic of personal interest. Dinosaurs were one of them. I would then get a book on the subject and write out five to ten minutes worth of material almost verbatim. Finally, I would stand in front of the class and read my speech. My hands would be sweating. My voice would be quivering and my knees shaking. Those few minutes in front of the class would seem like an eternity. I like many people suffered from fear of public speaking. I carried this fear all the way into early adulthood. What helped me overcome this fear? I joined a club called Toastmasters. They are a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to public speaking, communications and leadership. This was the greatest career and life enhancing decision I have ever made. Since then I have done speeches on one of my professions, which is Massage Therapy to many organizations. I have also spoken for non-profit groups as a volunteer. I have even conducted fee-based workshops for other Massage Therapists. I continued this for eleven years of my life and now have entered the great profession of nursing and have had many opportunities to present information to my classmates. I would have not had all these great experiences if I was still living in fear of public speaking. It has allowed me to get my message out much more effectively than any print ad could ever do.

I now want to share with you some tips to work through your fear of public speaking. Of course my number one recommendation is to join a Toastmasters club. To find a club in your city go to www.toastmasters.org.These tips are as follows

1. Use visualization- Athletes have used this techniques for a long time and so can you. Before you decide to speak in front of an audience visualize your success. Usually before I give a speech I find a quiet time to visualize myself presenting it. I first hear the chairperson giving me a very flattering introduction. I then hear the rousing applause as I am welcomed in front of my audience. I picture myself walking up confidently and with a smile. I see myself standing silent for a moment while the audience waits in anticipation for my first spoken word. I picture myself presenting my speech in front of an intent and smiling audience. When I finish my speech the audience claps loudly and maybe even cheers. I walk confidently back to my seat. You may have noticed this visualization included both the senses of sight and sound. If you can find a way to include smell and touch that would be great! The more senses you involve the more vivid your visualization will be. Of course you may want to repeat this exercise daily for at least a week or two before your presentation. The more strongly you ingrain these images in your mind, the higher chance you will have of successfully controlling your fear.

2. Practice in front of a mirror or ideally in front of a cam-corder- By seeing yourself presenting you can give yourself some good honest feedback on your speech before you present it for real.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice- The more you practice and learn your speech the more confident you will become and you will really be able to focus on the message the day you do the real presentation.

4. Get support- Have a test audience made up of at least one or ideally more of your friends or family members and have them give you some feedback on your presentation. Also a Toastmasters club is a great place to get this kind of support

5. Just keep giving speeches- You will gain greater control over your fear each time you successfully work through it

Over time if you implement some of these tips you will overcome your fear of public speaking. Of course the butterflies may always be there no matter how confident you become. But you will now be able to help those butterflies fly in formation and channel that nervousness into creating more energy in your speeches.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Three Tips for Becoming Recognized as an Expert

To become an "expert" in a given topic you do not need to acquire a degree. Degrees are good in some cases where a given career requires it such as engineering.

Here are three tips to becoming an expert without acquiring a degree.

  1. Become an information sponge- When I wanted to learn how to market my business through public realtions and publicity marketing I read a lot of books, websites and web articles to learn the information I needed to become knowledgeable in these areas. I also joined Toastmasters.
  2. Walk the walk- Once you've acquired the knowledge you need to take action. Put a plan in place. For me that was to set a goal and then break the goal into tasks via a to do list. By practicing you will learn what works and what doesn't.
  3. Promote your ideas- Once you have acquired the knowledge and put it to practice you can tell other people your ideas through a blog, website or other method. If they find your information helpful they will consider you an expert in your area.

So as you can see becoming an expert on a topic still takes a lot of effort even if you don't go the route of getting a degree. However the knowledge and life experience you will acquire is immeasureable. Good luck future expert.

" Going Up" the Communication Ladder with Elevator Speeches

What is an elevator speech?

It is a brief, concise statement about you and what it is that you do. It is stated in 15 to 30 seconds. Instead of saying I am a nurse for example, you might say. I treat people how their mother would have treated them sick in bed at home. I am a nurse. A little more interesting and memorable isn't it.

How do I construct an elevator speech?

In order to construct an elevator speech you must answer these questions. What is my target market? It may be seniors or childeren. In my case it would be people like you who are seeking information about marketing themselves. What problems do my target group have? What are the solutions? In your case you want to learn how to effectively market yourself. I can help you with that by offering you information to better do this.

What situations can elevator speeches be used in?
  • elevators of course
  • a line up at the bank
  • in a job interview, yes your interview responses are an elevator speech
  • at networking meetings
  • if you think of any other places let me know

So next time you are on the elevator elevate your communications to the next level. Use the elevator speech.