Companies spend a lot of money and time
creating a unique and compelling exhibit or event presence that
will make them stand out and connect with potential and existing
clients. There is another way to stand out and to garner
attention for your company and for your brand. That is to have
someone in the company speak at the event. Speaking at an event
can seem daunting and, depending on the size and quality of the
audience, some question if it is worthwhile.
While you may have reasons not to
speak, I would argue that there are also many benefits to your
company and to you. As with exhibiting, or participating in any
live event, it is important that you compare the demographics of
your clients with those of the attendees for the event to
determine if this is the right audience for you.
Here are some of the benefits you
should consider when deciding whether to speak:
Conference Attendees Are
More Likely to Visit Your Exhibit if You Are a Speaker
When you take the time to present
at an event, you are signaling to attendees that you know your
topic and that you are willing to share it with them. Attendees
are more likely to recognize your company and want to talk to
your staffers when they walk the trade show floor or attend an
event you are sponsoring. You will be developing what is called
Affinity” bias. Clients will recognize you or your brand
and therefore are more likely to want to get to know you.
Free Advertising from the
Event organizers will promote
your presentation, and by doing so, will promote you and
indirectly your company. Your information will be featured on
their website, printed materials and social media. Also, you
will have the opportunity to share this information on your own
social media channels, which will improve your clout with
Learn As A Result Of
Anytime I have given a talk at a
conference or event, I have learned from the experience.
Getting up in front of a larger group of people is an incredible
motivator for me to review and research material. Also, since I
make my sessions interactive, I always learn new tips and tricks
from people attending the class. I also learn what my client
base cares about, and often get an idea of new trends that may
be surfacing in the marketplace.
Often, event organizers will have
a speaker reception or networking opportunity to help speakers
get to know one another. This type of event will host press or
other key event organizers. This is a great opportunity to meet
the people who are well known in your industry or who are likely
to be more knowledgeable about new technologies, concepts or
trends in your field.
Interact and Learn From
Beyond the learning that happens
when preparing for a talk or a class, you will also learn by
observing who attends your talk. This is a good opportunity to
see if your customer personas (the types of people you
have identified as representing your customers based on
demographic and psychographic characteristics) are reflected in
this audience or not. Some of this demographic information you
may be able to get from the show organizer ahead of time to help
you prepare for your talk as well. In some settings, you may
get the opportunity to have lunch or dinner with some of your
audience. Again this is a great opportunity to find out what
they struggle with, who they are and how you can help people in
this demographic with your products or services in the future.
Additionally, you can send, or get from the event organizer,
surveys about your session which will help inform you about who
they are and what they care about.
Share Your Message
A great reason to speak at a
business conference is that you will get a platform to share
things you have learned or believe in. Have you ever attended a
session at a conference and thought that you would like to share
your own perspective on the topic? Kristen Sgroi shares this in
The Only 5 Reasons to Attend a Conference. By speaking at a
business conference you get an opportunity to share your
perspective regarding your experience on a particular topic, how
you think things should be and, hopefully, help others learn
from your experience. This in and of itself can be very
So now that I have
convinced you of the benefits, how do you overcome your
objections or fears?
Here are some common objections
to speaking at a conference and suggestions of how you can
Lack of Time
First of all, you should plan to
speak about a topic that is familiar to you and that is related
somewhat to your current job so preparing is not as cumbersome
and any needed preparation will benefit your current job.
Also, it is helpful to plan
ahead. Work backward from the date of the presentation and set
regular deadlines for yourself so you are forced to complete
different portions of your preparation on a periodic basis and
therefore lessen the burden.
Get help in preparing. Either
assign part of the research to a subordinate or ask a college to
help you review your presentation or sit in on your practice
preview. It will help them learn about what you are presenting
and help you in the preparation process.
Public Speaking Fear
Not every speaking opportunity is
one where you speak to a group of over 100 people. In fact,
many breakout sessions are set up to be interactive and only
require you to present to 40 people or less. This is much more
manageable. Also, there may be opportunities for you to
co–present. This can be a much less intimidating opportunity as
not all the attention is placed on you and you can divide up the
preparation tasks as well.
A good way to get over this fear
is to start slowly. Initially, present to smaller groups or
co-present to a larger or more familiar group. Once you are
able to do that successfully you will be more comfortable going
up alone in front of a larger crowd. Also, Simon Sinek gives
great advice he learned from Olympic Athletes in an
Entrepreneur Magazine article. Channel your nervous energy
to generate excitement for your topic and audience.
Lack of Company Support
You would be surprised at the
number of companies that, if given a chance, will recognize the
value of having their employees speak on their behalf. Make
sure you make a business case of why it benefits the company,
what you will be speaking about and prove to them that you will
do a good job. A good way of making your case is to present
what you will be presenting to your boss ahead of time and to
share the reviews you get afterward.
You don’t have to give away your
company secrets to have a meaningful presentation. In fact, you
should be sure not to. However, there are probably a number of
skills or experiences that you have gained in the course of your
work that can be helpful to your potential client base, vendors
or other business people that have nothing to do with your
proprietary information. What do you do well that others in
your industry or job function can learn from? Are you great at
organizing, public speaking, promotions, something else?
©2016 by Sofia Troutman