Each of us has had opportunities to raise our hand to speak. Certainly as a child, in the classroom, but also as professionals representing our organizations and ideas.
Agreeing to speak is both an incredible marketing and networking opportunity and can also be intimidating and daunting. As a speech coach and writer, my clients
often call me at the last minute saying, "I've agreed to speak Friday night at a board fund raiser but don't have a clue as to what to talk about. Help!"
Don't panic, plan. Make a commitment in 2012 to develop your thought leadership - your signature message - what you love to talk about and what you must talk about so that in 2012 and beyond, you will be ready!
Every seasoned business leader would benefit tremendously from having one influential, strategic speech that talks about what that leader is known for or wants to be known for. The beauty of this approach is that once you have created that great 30-minute talk - you have it ready to go, whenever you need it and your days of last minute panicking are over. Your core message is imbedded in the talk and you will find that it can be easily adapted for each audience and timeframe.
Here's a quick example:
* Business Leader XXX is passionate about building high performing teams.
* His thought leadership speech is titled: Goal! How high performing teams are built and sustained.
* His speech contains the 4 principles he has found to be the key ingredients for successful team building.
No matter where he is asked to present, he finds that this speech works. Of course, he tweaks it to address the industry, the audience or even the charitable cause. When
he is asked to speak he raises his hand because he's got his speech and he nails it every time by filling it in with reach examples and anecdotes.
This kind of speech has a big advantage - its' selling without selling. Business Leader XXX is at the event or conference representing YYZZ Company but he is not overtly
pitching that company as he is talking about a universally interesting business topic - high performing teams. He is engaging the audience about what he has learned and
discovered and "oh, by the way, these principles have worked extraordinarily well at YYZZ - let me share some results..." At that point the company mention is not only
expected, its welcome. This concept also applies to not-for-profit organizations as well as academic
institutions. In this regard, you might think of your 30-minute speech as "cause marketing."
If you want to get your ideas or your company in front of new and different audiences with this innovative approach, start by defining your thought leadership. Here are some ways to jumpstart your thinking:
* Start to journal and record your reflections about the life lessons you have learned.
* Take notice of the books you are reading - what is driving your curiosity and interest?
* Hire a coach - partner with a coach who can help you define, deliver and market your thought leadership. Having a creative partner and sounding board can make the journey more fruitful.
Today, in a challenged economy, every business is looking for innovative ways to market their products and services along with increasing brand awareness. As
budgets tighten around marketing dollars, consider the cost-effective approach of marketing your business the old fashioned way - through a compelling influential
speech that strategically positions you and your organization in a memorable way. Be ready to raise your hand.