BY CRAIG SATTERFIELD, CLIA ELITE CRUISE COUNSELOR SCHOLAR
At the end of the year most of us try and come up with a doable New Year’s resolution to improve our business. One of the most popular is to get out there more and speak to groups about travel and your professional travel services company. You may have practiced with an elevator speech about your business with friends. Why shouldn’t you. It pays to advertise. One of the best ways to grow your business is world of mouth, or from your mouth to your potential new customer’s ear! Speaking builds your credibility on a one to one basis. As a bonus, the more you speak the better you get at it!Like the old question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Practice, practice, practice!
How can you set up some speaking engagements and crown yourself royalty in your town as an expert speaker on travel and promote your company at the same time? First of all it is not that easy to get started, but it is truly worth the effort. Start out with relatives, friends and good clients who may have a lead with a group that would appreciate you as a speaker at their meeting. Get the word out. Put a page on your website offering to speak. Promote it in your social media too. Create a short sample of your speaking style on a unique travel destination in a sample video like they do on Youtube.com. Be sure to have a brief section in the sample that shows you engaging your audience as well. You may also want to record your presentations to play back later to improve your presentation even more.
This will show people that you are really serious about your speaking career. You might consider speaking to small groups in the beginning. Think of it as quality vs quantity. A couple of good new clients from speaking to a small group might just be what you need at this point.
Subjects of your speaking engagements are critically important too. It isn’t enough just to have your speech or lecture down pat, you really need to know your subject. This will also make you more relaxed for your presentation. Remember you are there to help them, not to sell them anything. A sales pitch will turn your potential new clients off for sure.
Speak on destinations you are passionate about. Better yet offer a list of subjects and destinations on which you choose to speak. This will give the host some ideas on how to promote you for your speaking engagement. If the host needs a new subject that you might not be an expert in, you may want to add researched information on that subject along with an existing one you are an expert in. Trying to be an expert in everything is asking for trouble. The most important thing is to keep yourself the expert and control what you are presenting.
Keep your speech under 20 minutes so you will have time to take questions from the floor. This part of the presentation really shows your expertise in travel and will be a great way to endear yourself to the audience. Pace yourself so you don’t end up speaking too fast. This happens often if you are nervous. You have information of great importance and the audience is excited about not missing any of it.
Having a handout at the back of the room or having the host give one out is a great way to get your contact information into the hands of potential clients. They may not be interested now but, “how do I get in touch with that person that was talking about travel at my club?” You might ask the host if you can put a clipboard with a signup sheet for guests that want to be contacted by you for their personal travel plans. This is a low pressure way to get some new leads without seeming pushy. Also have plenty of business cards at the table as well as up where you are speaking. Remember you are there to entertain and inform but a little new business couldn’t hurt either.
Now that you have some tips on how to find and present a speech, let us deal with the elephant in the room! Are you terrified of public speaking? You, No way! Remember, these folks are not a bunch of strangers that want to criticize you. These people are your new friends. They want to hear what you have to say and definitely want you to succeed!
Now that you are ready to become a speaker, set yourself up to succeed with these few pointers:
Personal grooming is very important. The better you look, the more professional and ready you will feel.
Arrive early and get a feel for the room. Stand where you will be speaking. If there is a microphone get it to your comfort level in advance. Make sure the volume level is appropriate for the room. If you are including visual aids, make sure the equipment is set up perfectly too. Check and then check again. You want to do whatever you can to give yourself that added feeling that everything will go well.
Greet the attendees as they come in. They will be very happy when they realize that you are their speaker once you are introduced on stage. You are already starting to know them as friends.
When you are introduced and ready to start your program, take a breath or two then begin. Make eye contact with one member of the audience then direct your energy in engaging the rest of the audience in your enthusiasm. It will be contagious.
Try to avoid reading from your notes. Use them as an outline just make sure you have covered all of the subjects you feel are important in your 20 minute speech if you need to. Depending upon your notes makes it look like you are not prepared, which we all know you will be.
If you are a little nervous don’t mentioned it. Only you will know. We are always our own worst critics. It should subside once you get into your program. Concentrate on presenting your program the way you have rehearsed it.
It is also a good policy to repeat the questions that might be asked from the audience at the end of the presentation then respond to it. It is a confirmation that everyone understands what the question is and keeps you in control as you answer.
So go ahead and make good your resolution to build your business by becoming an expert speaker. It is truly the very best way to make an impression that you know your stuff!