Speak up for yourself
Over the last few years I have attended and spoken at many events and conferences. I have always noticed how speaking positions you well, and how often people are keen to ask questions afterwards.
On each occasion I have enjoyed networking with others over a sandwich and cup of coffee. There have even been times when I was interested enough to follow up with several speakers and sometimes I purchased services from them and had services purchased from me. So in a way I am proof that the strategy I am about to tell you about actually works. But only for some people! In many cases people network, but they don’t do it with any form of plan, or targets. They don’t know what to say and they simply ‘wing it’. But as Natwest say “there is another way”
Who can use seminars?
Promotional seminars can be used by a whole variety of industries ranging from marketing companies to accountants, HR specialists to IT companies. In fact to anyone who has got something interesting to say. And herein lies the key to success! Most business people who get up to speak at promotional seminars make the mistake of trying to promote themselves when what they should be doing is helping delegates.
So the keys are to put on a great, or even an outstanding performance (by the way if you need help with this, MAX Marketing’s Jim Ewan is the former President of the Professional Speakers Association and he would be very pleased to talk to you about presentation skills). You then need to ensure your talk is geared towards helping people and not just saying how wonderful you are. You need to give them something free. Then you need to ask people to take action and to do something as a result of your talk.
Approach an organisation
Before you start running and marketing your own seminars try to get someone else to run one for you. You might even want to organise one in partnership with another organisation, maybe a bank, accountant, industry body or solicitor. But the best way is to speak at other organisations’ seminars. So contact Chambers of Commerce, IoD, FBS, your own local business clubs, breakfast networking groups, Women’s Institutes, conference organisers and industry specific conferences or seminars.
But what am i going to say?
One of the keys is to attract sufficient numbers of the right type of people to the seminar. Therefore the headline of your talk is vital to the success of the seminar and to your aim of winning some business by speaking.
Holding the seminar at an interesting venue is essential. It may surprise you, but not everyone is there to listen to you! I held one of my Marketing without Money seminars at Gleneagles last year and I found out that 65% of the people attending this lunch time session had either played Golf in the morning, or were doing so after my talk. I also held one at the Manchester United FC ground at ‘Old Trafford’ and you will be shocked to read that everyone at the seminar was a MUFC fan. The point is that the venue can be a draw to your seminar and that is what you want, to put ‘bums on seats’.
When should you hold your seminar? The bottom line is it does not matter whether it is a breakfast, lunch or evening seminar, there will always be people who can’t make the time you arrange for a variety of reasons. Avoiding Monday is always a good idea!
Should you charge for your talk? There are three reasons why you should charge. Firstly, something that is free is not necessarily valued. Secondly, you are professional and your time is valuable. Thirdly, the organisation you are speaking for will generally charge their guests.
The talk at a promotional seminar should last no more than 30 to 45 minutes. Your aim is to create interest by giving away a small amount of advice, not to give away everything.
Position yourself correctly
The chairman or organiser must position you as well as possible, therefore you must have a written introduction for them to follow. If you don’t have this then they will just ‘wing’ the intro and you may not be properly positioned.
At Steve Mills Marketing we often gain new business as a result of seminars we have run. Why? Because ‘people buy from people’ and they also buy from people they know, like and trust. So in 45 minutes your job is to get people to feel as though they know, like and trust you, or have at least started down the path of doing so enough to want to meet you again.
Mingle as much as possible with your delegates, especially afterwards. I recently did a talk for the Association of Accounting Technicians. The talk was from 7pm to 7.45pm. I left the building at 10.35pm. Why? Because people wanted to speak to me! And I left with an enquiry which has resulted in a £12,000+ sale. I tell you this, not to impress you, but to impress upon you that promotional seminars work.
Get a list of all those who attended, or hold a prize draw for something and get everyone to put their business card into a hat so that you can call them afterwards.
Networking works for lots of organisations
The question is do they work for you? If not our team at Steve Mills Marketing can help. Whether you need help publicising your event, event managing it, or you want some training in public speaking we can help, so call us on 0118 930 5700.