How To Use Public Speaking to Market Your Brand

There is nothing like an inspiring speech to help you market your brand. 

With the ease of posting to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is easy to forget the power of live events to market your personal brand, your small business and your expertise.  Every city has local clubs and organization who seek out speakers who can tell a fresh and interesting story to an audience.  Whatever business you are in, there is an industry trade group, association or organization who would love to hear an engaging story from a member.

How can speaking be a part of your marketing mix?

Whether you are marketing  a product or service, building a brand requires story telling that connects with people. Stories can illustrate in 15 minutes beyond what any brochure or ad can do.  It’s a powerful way of putting a potential customer into the reference frame of how your small business solves a problem.

Having won the Rachael Ray Great American Cookbook Competition, it was inevitable that my daughter Fanny would get some requests to speak at various events. Although she has never given a speech before an audience, she was recently invited to give several speeches this month. She was invited to speak at the Rotary Club and at a Red Dress Fundraiser in Wilmington, NC where she lives.  Later this month, Fanny was also invited to speak in Raleigh, at her alma mater college (Peace University) and High School (Ravenscroft).  

Having been fortunate to give many speeches in my career, I offered her a few pieces of fatherly/marketing advice that I’d like to share with you.

GET RIGHT INTO THE SPEECH:  Don’t start a speech by saying I’d like to thank the Rotary Club for inviting me to speak today. I’m here today to tell you about my journey. Instead, like writing a blog post or a short story, come up with a punchy opening line that grabs the listener’s attention. For example, I'd like to tell you about the day I had lunch with Ronald Reagan". Or, "the first time I ate sushi was with Ben & Jerry". 

FIND 10 PHOTOS THAT TELL THE STORY: Where possible, pictures can help punctuate the journey you are discussing in your speech. Don’t use words on the screen – or if you do, keep it to one or two words at most. Let the images be like a soundtrack that helps brings your journey to life. Be funny, self-deprecating and painfully authentic.

DON’T HAVE A SCRIPT:  You aren’t in front of people to read. You are in front of people to speak. Don’t be afraid of stumbling and being human – sounding less than polished. People want to hear about a real person and their path and the hurdles they had to overcome.

KEEP IT SHORT:  Ted Talks work because they can’t go beyond 18 minutes. I think that is a magic number that it the perfect goal to achieve. A short speech is like a well-planned meal. It gives you all the nourishment you need and doesn’t make you full – or worse, bored.

REMEMBER TO PAUSE AND USE SILENCE:  There is nothing more powerful than a well-placed pause in a speech.  Before you tell them the results of something important, a little silence goes a long way to building anticipation.

PUT THE AUDIENCE IN YOUR STORY: Make sure you find places to let the audience member see themselves in what you achieved, what you overcame or the approach to solving the problem that you discovered. Let them in so that they are invested emotionally in the outcome. Ask a question like, "can I see a show of hands of how many people in the audience text with their Grandmas"? 

DON’T BE COMMERCIAL ABOUT YOUR BRAND: Don’t try and sell anyone or anything in the speech. Instead, be inspiring, be funny, be yourself.  Awareness and interest will come after the fact. The speech isn't a commercial. It is a platform to engage and to help connect an emotion with your message. 

END STRONG:  The end of the story can be a powerful message about the journey and the path ahead.  Leave on an upbeat and entertaining note so that they want to know more, they want to find out about you and your business or brand.  If this were a meal, let them leave the table a little bit hungry.

Small business owners from accountants to start ups in software should be reaching out to local organizations to speak in public. It helps you refine your story and to perfect your pitch. It spreads the word about you and your brand but it also can help you build your confidence in your own path. Every day, at every hotel and conference room venue, there are groups of people getting together for a meeting. Connect through LinkedIn local groups to meet up with people with common interests. Call the Chamber of Commerce, reach out to non-profits or small business associations to see if they have any upcoming events and are interested in a short speech with a surprising twist. Go to local networking meetups to connect and offer your time to speak at upcoming events. 

It helps to develop a pitch that in a few sentences summarizes what you will talk about and how you will educate and entertain an audience.  Perhaps you were a D student in math in high school but you found a passion for numbers and got your CPA and have a successful financial planning firm.  Or you have found a software solution to a common business problem that can save the average company 5,000 hours a year of wasteful work – and you created it with the help of people from around the world. Or maybe you'd like to share with the audience how you found yourself on The Phil Donahue Show with your wife and the owners of Haagen Dasz. 

If you are a brand manager, you too should be seeking out speaking opportunities. Maybe you can pitch an industry group or trade association that you could speak at an upcoming conference. Don’t talk about your product or brand – but find a topic where you have expertise and can share and enlighten the audience.  The same basic guidelines apply and it is a great way to build your confidence and personal brand too.

Finally, to give a great speech, you need to hear and see some great speeches. Listen to The Moth podcast or watch some Ted Talks for inspiration. Follow how they deliver and grab your attention. 

Now, go get up to the podium and tell us your story. 

Photo courtesy of Cape Fear Rotary Club and Baca Photography 

Are you ready to speak up and share your story? Need a little help?  Give me a call through Clarity and let's talk.

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