If public speaking is a priority for you in reaching potential clients, every opportunity to be in front of the right audience is precious. You need to get your best results from each presentation. By “results” I mean:
• Potential clients get an idea of what you’re like as a person, from your stage presence and how you interact with them
• Potential clients can engage with you during your speech (through questions) and afterwards
• You build your reputation, among your potential client base, for being able to solve the issues they’re facing
Yet far too many business professionals miss their chance because although they’re talking from a podium, their audience is tuning out because the topic isn’t on a topic of concern for them. Perhaps they decided to attend another presentation at the conference instead.
So how do you make sure that prospective clients will to come to your presentation, pay attention, and engage with you after it’s over?
Don’t start with you. Start with them.
The answer lies to some extent in Blog Post #28, in which I suggested that the content you develop needs to be focused on the problems your prospects and clients are facing. It’s not about you at all. It’s purely about them and their needs.
The same applies to speeches. Far too many business professionals focus their topic on “what I want to say” rather than “what my audience wants to know about.”
So, start with them and their burning issues. This matches your business purpose too – you’re not going to build a successful professional practice unless you’re able to solve a situation that matters to them, a lot, and right now.
In blog post #24, I went into the topic of “Greed and Fear” – why your content must either address an opportunity that they need to take advantage of right now, or a problem that they need to solve or something awful is going to happen to them.
So, long before you start polishing your slide deck or even writing your speech, you need to find out what problems and opportunities the people in the audience – your potential clients – are facing. How do you find that out?
• Talk with people in your target market about their concerns – or at least people who are knowledgeable about the market.
• Read their trade publications, in print and online, including their association websites and influential blogs.
• Join the LinkedIn groups they’re part of – and note what they’re talking about.
• Attend their industry or professional events, or at least look through the programs to see what topics they’ve already scheduled.
Note the keywords they’re using – such as the name of a new law or regulation that affects them.
Narrowcast newsjacking: niche news they can use
The good thing about public speaking is that you can be up-to-the-minute current in what you say. If a conversation you have before your speech turns up a topic that’s of interest to your audience but you didn’t know about, you can work that into your speech. I’ve done this many times in my speeches and workshops to add value and (sometimes) to impress the audience with my local knowledge.
But your speech is going to be most effective if you can wrap it around some news that affects your clients. It’s called “newsjacking” in content marketing terms, which I’ve discussed in blog post #6. What kind of news? I call it “narrowcast newsjacking” because it lasers in to a topic that is of particular concern to your audience but – and this is crucial – it’s about a topic they won’t learn about in the mainstream media.
Many of the articles I ghost-write for my clients are on this theme – narrowcast news about obscure but powerful regulatory changes and new laws.
For example, in my part of the world, there was a major change recently in the field of residential condominium development. The warranties that cover new condos will now consider whether the unit’s owners are protected against too-high levels of noise. If the noise from traffic, the neighbors’ wall-mounted speakers, or the building’s mechanical system is too loud, the unit owners can claim money back from the warranty.
This change would be little known outside the construction sector, but it was huge in that sector. So the article and podcast I produced for a noise engineer client talked about this bit of “narrowcast news.” The engineer recounted common problems he’s seen – often, from drywall installers who leave a noise-channeling gap between the wall and the floor. He went on to describe how he can add value to noise management, resulting in pleased unit buyers and protecting builders from warranty claims.
The sweet spot on narrowcast news is:
• Will have a strong effect on your audience (who are also your potential clients)
• Is not widely known in your target audience, so your presentation will provide them with information they’ll value
• A topic on which you have recognized expertise – an audience can be expected to heed what you say
People are more likely to attend your presentation if they think they’ll learn something they can use. Provide that, and your public speaking program will be more likely to support your business goals.