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Public Speaking

Attract more clients in less time.

Have you ever wondered why public speaking is considered one of the top ways to develop and nourish your fitness business? The answer is simple—an experienced, talented speaker can get exposure to multiple prospects at one time, which makes public speaking a highly effective method of converting prospects into clients. It’s a sound business policy to adopt public speaking as part of your overall marketing strategy.

The Power of
Public Speaking

Public speaking is a great way to target a number of potential clients at once instead of having to target one prospect at a time. This alone gives you the opportunity to acquire several clients in a short period of time.

To many prospective clients, a one-on-one approach feels more like a “sales pitch,” while being part of a group event is more of an “information-sharing” experience. You are already in a people-oriented profession, so you understand the benefits of face-to-face contact. Giving a presentation allows people to experience you as a person. This can provide a definite advantage over e-mail or other less intimate ways of reaching out to prospective clients.

Creating Speaking Opportunities

Begin the process by identifying your target audience. Delivering your presentation to a group that is not interested in your product or service will produce slim results.

The best way to identify your target
audience is to do some research to find groups in your ideal client niche. Go through business directories, and encyclopedias of associations, and, of course, use Internet searches to gather the addresses for prospective attendees. If you plan to target fitness professionals, for example, contact gyms and clubs, personal trainers, group exercise instructors, dietitians, lifestyle coaches, yoga instructors, etc.

Determine if you or a colleague has a contact in the targeted organization. If so, make a phone call specifically to that person. But even if you don’t know anyone at the organization, never hesitate to call—you are providing education that people want and need. During this call, find out if the organization might use a speaker, and then consequently move the relationship forward.

Open the conversation by introducing yourself and explaining how your presentation would add value to their organization. Offer to send over information about yourself and your topics. It is best to have this information ready ahead of time in both snail and
e-mail formats. This written information is commonly presented in the format of a Speaker One Sheet.

The Speaker One Sheet should contain the following information and should be no longer than a single sheet of paper. It should include: your name and job title(s), a few bullets listing the learning objectives, a partial listing of speech titles (include some subheadings), testimonials, your bio and telephone number, and your e-mail and website addresses.

Once you’ve passed that hurdle, you may be asked to submit more detailed information. I call this additional information a Speaker Marketing Package (SMP). The SMP is similar to a resumé in that it has your contact information, qualifications and work experience, and it should also detail previous presentation experience, your biography and any equipment requirements. This package goes a long way in helping the target organization understand what you do.


The trick to converting a proposal into
a deal lies in the follow-up plan. Remember, according to the National Association of Sales Executives, it takes five to 12 contacts to close 60% of one’s business. After sending your information to the targeted organization, do not just sit back and wait. Call the organization and inquire whether they have received the requested information. If you do not get a response, be consistent about phoning and e-mailing once per week. I suggest you target at least 10 groups simultaneously so that you avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. After making contact, ask whether the organization is interested in having you speak. If not, ask for feedback about why they are reluctant. Even if today the answer is no, tomorrow it might be yes.

If you find that the organization is somewhat interested but still a bit unsure, try to schedule a personal meeting with one of the company representatives. Talking to someone in person will add tremendous value toward getting you the speaking engagement.

A Strong and
Effective Presentation

You’ve been hired, and it’s time to give your talk. Keep in mind that your talk begins once you enter the room, not when you start to talk into the microphone. Presence, both verbal and nonverbal, is key. Knowing this, you should set up early and be at the entry door 30 minutes before your speech. Greet as many people as you can as they enter the venue. When it is time to speak, start with an attention grabber—an interesting fact or story. Proceed with highlighting the key points of the talk so the clients know what to expect from the presentation. That is your introduction.

From there, use the main body of your presentation to cover your key points and problems and how they impact the lives of your attendees, keeping in mind that they are potential clients for you. Then give simple teasers of solutions to those problems (stop short of offering complete solutions or there won’t be any need for the prospects to hire you). A simple teaser solution I sometimes use is to ask attendees what they’d like a visitor to their website to do. Most reply that they’d want that visitor to buy something. “Actually,” I tell them, “the most desired outcome when you have a site visitor is to build your contact list, so you need to offer a free report, mini online course or something similar to capture the visitor’s information. Most people will not buy anything from your site on the first visit.”

While speaking, make eye contact with as many individuals within the group as possible. This is a way to establish one-on-one communication. Another way to get your point and personality across is to use gestures and articulation—using your hands and clear speech puts emphasis and energy where you want it. Along the same lines, keep your posture, dress code and language positive. Smile and breathe correctly at appropriate points in your talk, as body language is a tool you can use to your advantage. Also, be enthusiastic—it’s contagious. If you keep your enthusiasm level high, you will influence your listeners to do the same.

Close by revisiting the key points once more to instill them in the participants’ minds. Gently persuade the clients to contact you and make your contact information available to them. Some of the gentle persuasions I use are: “Contact me if you have any further questions.” “Visit my website for more information.” “Sign up for my free tips letter.”

Products and Services

Just as your talk began before you spoke, it continues after you’ve finished the formal presentation. Capture participants’ information and business details in a variety of ways. For example, hand out a report, tips letter, assessment, etc.; offer something that requires people to share their contact information. Another successful method is to raffle off something of value—a stability ball, a book or a free session. Be creative and collect those leads!

Depending on the organization and their policies, some will let you have a list of the attendees. Also, ask if a table can be set up at the back of the room to offer your products and services. Another good idea is to find out a company’s policy on marketing you to their staff. It’s possible they will let you place articles in their in-house magazine or on their website. Research the marketing methods prior to your talk and then ask, ask, ask.

At the end of your talk as well as while chatting with attendees afterward, be sure to thank people for coming and sharing their time with you. In closing, remember this: the name of the game is to work on relationship marketing. You want to be invited back, be referred to other groups and have attendees want your products and services.

Sidebar: Preparing an Effective Talk

  1. Address Attendees’ Needs. When planning your talk, begin by focusing on the attendees. People who have taken the time to listen to what you have to say want to be enriched by your talk. Therefore, provide informative content that is inspiring, motivating and interesting. In short, focus on the particular needs of the group and develop customized, relevant content.
  2. Provide Value. Deliver more than you promise and let attendees walk away with solutions they can implement right away.
  3. Employ Evidential Narrative. Use personal experiences, statistics, expert testimonials and presentation aids to make your talk interesting and believable. This type of information and evidence enhances and emphasizes your points.
  4. Maintain Your Focus. Focus on the content, not yourself. Even when you weave in a personal experience, keep the focus on the experience rather than on yourself.
  5. Be Energetic. Keep the energy level of your delivery style up at all times. Your narratives need to be exciting and upbeat. If you add emotion and enthusiasm to your talk, your attendees will have an easier time paying attention.

Tom Perkins

Tom Perkins is a business coach/advisor, radio host, speaker, author and certified personal trainer with more than 30 years in the fitness industry. Having owned six startups since 1990, Tom provides fitness businesses and professionals with the systems, tools and support they need to get to the next level and beyond. Tom is an ACE continuing education provider.

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