When was the last time you spoke in front of an audience? If the answer is “never” or “a long time ago” you may want to focus on finding an opportunity to present to an audience, either in person, through a live webinar or another online option.
Many people ignore these valuable chances to address a live audience, dismiss them as ineffective or too much work, or even avoid them, not knowing the power they hold.
It’s a mistake to write off this type of face-to-face interaction because speaking engagements hold immense potential to enhance your professional reputation and attract new business. Hearing you speak and share your wisdom makes a lasting impression on viewers, cementing their awareness that you have useful insights and smart strategies that they can use. They may not require your assistance right away, but when they do have a need for an accountant, you’ll still be at the top of their list of experts to consider.
As an example, I was recently approached by an accounting firm partner who had participated in a webinar I conducted over three years ago. At the time, his firm was working with another marketer and had no need of additional help. Yet, three years later he was ready for a change. He remembered how he had enjoyed and learned from my presentation (which I found incredibly touching) and gave me a call.
Presenting to an audience offers one of the best returns on investment you can get, and that’s true whether you are paid or not. Some people refuse to speak for free, believing their time is too valuable to give away. And I agree that you should not short-change your value. But in some cases, the time you invest in making a presentation is pure business development. The ROI for this activity can be so high it’s well worth spending your time on it even with no direct compensation. You just need to weight the pros and cons to make a smart decision.
Seeing you deliver your message in person, either live or online, is quite different from reading about it. Speaking engagements are so powerful, in part, because your audience can put a face with the name and get an idea of what it would be like to work with you. They can talk with you directly, which makes it a far more meaningful experience than taking in the information you share in other, more passive, ways. Additionally, you are proving you know what you’re talking about, answering questions and interacting in real time.
In addition, being a featured speaker gives you the stamp of approval from an organization your audience respects. It lends legitimacy to your existing marketing and naturally boosts your status as a thought leader and expert. And don’t forget the group itself will promote you as such, which is excellent exposure, even for those that can’t attend.
If you’re sold on the idea but doubt you can find one of these coveted engagements, don’t fear; you have to do a bit of research, but the opportunities are out there. Start by looking for local groups that target the types of clients you want to reach. You can also reach out to various groups that serve the niche markets your serve or business leaders in general, to inquire about conferences, individual speaking opportunities and panel conversations. Once you’ve gotten started it builds on itself. (Note: Having a one-page speaker sheet that includes a brief bio, topics you cover and testimonials from previous audience members can make this process much easier.)
Once you get started, other opportunities often arise. Those who hear you speak in one setting may ask you to present for other organizations they’re a part of, so even very small speaking roles can help get the momentum going.
If you’re serious about business development and building a strong brand for yourself and your accounting firm, it’s time to get serious about pursuing speaking engagements. When you present to an audience of potential clients or professional colleagues, you’re opening yourself to a world of new opportunity.
About the Author:
Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk (like rustic without the “t”) is the founder and owner of bbr companies llc. After having built a widely recognized and respected marketing firm, bbr marketing, she decided to make a big change in 2017 and scale her business back so she could focus on what she does best and brings her the most joy – strategic marketing planning and outsourced CMO-level services for professional services firms and other businesses. Most firms can benefit from the input of a seasoned, experienced strategic marketer, but don’t need or want to invest in that resource full-time. This way business leaders can focus on what they do best with the knowledge that their marketing (and often their marketing team) is being managed by an expert with their strategic plan always in mind. She can be reached at email@example.com.