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.

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