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TIP SHEET: Critical Success Factors for Giving Talks And Getting Clients
By: Coach Jaz
Date Published: 10-17-2007
Coach Jaz

Giving talks gets clients! But ONLY if you structure it the right way.  Here are the top 4 success factors for turning talks into a steady source of business.
 
Obviously, we can only cover a few of the CSF's (critical success factors) in an article.  Helpingthehelper.com covers more CSF's and other key strategies, but here are four of the top CSF's for you to implement right away:

CSF #1. FOCUS ON YOUR TARGET MARKET

A major, major determinant of your success in securing Intro Sessions through speaking is whether or not the audience is your target market (your WHO). Before you ever open your mouth and start delivering your talk, you can boost results just by picking your speaking gigs carefully.
Your talk needs to be completely relevant to the needs, wants and desires of your audience. Imagine: if you are speaking on work/life balance and only 60% of your audience works full-time, you are 40% in the hole!

We know this is a simplistic example, but it demonstrates an important point. For the best results, you should target professional or community associations that are congruent with your WHO (target market). In addition, the topic of your talk should really resonate with the audience.

In general, groups like Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions Club, etc. or even your local community center or health club are not the audiences that will generate the best results. Of course, speaking at a Rotary meeting is a heck of a lot better than not speaking at all, but to achieve excellent results you want to speak to a more targeted group.

As an example, imagine a chiropractor who specializes in "helping lawyers manage stress and stress-related illnesses that slow their productivity."  (Remember, this is his marketing message - he actually helps many other kinds of people.) 

Will he get better results speaking to the local BNI chapter (a general business networking group) or speaking at lunchtime in local law firms?

Even though BNI is in the business of trading referrals, they usually only have one of each profession - one lawyer, one accountant, etc. So the law firm is a better bet.

For another example, let's say you're a therapist "who helps single mothers rebuild their life after a divorce" (a great Who/What!) It would be a lot more effective to speak at a "Parents Without Partners" meeting than the local health club, right?

But don't stop there - how about speaking to a group of lawyers... who specialize in divorce!?
In other words, you don't have to speak just to your target market - you can also speak to other professionals who provide services to your target market. Sharing your expertise will help them serve their clients better, and they will refer their clients to you in turn!

We challenge you to reach out to organizations, associations or companies that are congruent with your target market.  The HTH Virtual U workbook on Speaking has step by step guidelines on how to approach organizations and get speaking invitations. Our Marketing Toolkit has sample Speaking Inquiry Letters and other templates for you to customize and use - so you can approach your target organizations and get your Speaking engine up and running in no time!

CSF #2. MAINTAIN PROFESSIONAL POSTURE

We talk about Professional Posture a great deal in Helping The Helper. Among other things, professional posture is connected to how you carry yourself (hence the name).

In order to secure Intro Sessions, it is imperative that you are confident and professional when speaking to groups. We notice three main ways in which wellness professionals do not portray the necessary professional posture during their speaking. See if you fall into any of these traps and use the guidelines below to overcome them.

A. Many wellness professionals really want and need clients and this comes off in the talk, especially in how they offer the Intro Session. You can still maintain Professional Posture even when you're hurting for clients.  See below for information on how to avoid this trap.

B. The very nature of your wellness work is different than speaking. What makes us really shine in our work as therapists, holistic healers, reiki practitioners, coaches, etc is that we know how to be a great partner, a conduit for healing, a questioner, a listener. But in speaking you are a director, a teacher, a facilitator and an "expert."  It is important you portray this!  Shying away from these roles in your talk serves no-one.

C. Many wellness professionals are hesitant in offering their services. They are afraid of sounding too "salesy." See below for more information on how to overcome this. There is a way to balance confidence with humility. Your work is a valuable service that can benefit the members of your audience and you must be professional and "attractive" (energetically) in how you articulate that.

CSF #3. OFFER THE INTRO SESSION

If you're looking for more clients, you must communicate to the audience that you are available for a complimentary or low-cost consultation. This must be done from the podium verbally! You cant simply put a bowl in the back of the room and hope to collect business cards. 
 
When inviting people to engage in a Intro Session, you want to communicate your offer in a powerful, confident and articulate manner. This is worth practicing! Do not leave it to chance.

Remember, you are providing a service to them by giving people the opportunity to meet with you 1-1. It is not the other way around! They are not doing you a favor by accepting your offer! Do you see the difference? One is psychologically (and energetically) attractive, the other is needy!

We challenge you to see and feel the difference and practice making your offer in an attractive way that makes the offer seem truly valuable.

A good strategy is to let the audience know that you only have a limited number of spots available. The number we suggest is 10-20% of the audience size.

Also let them know that you aren't necessarily interested in speaking with everybody, just those who are truly motivated. For example, you can say that you are excited to meet with "those people who are really ready to experience reiki and discuss how they can make some tremendous improvements in their stress level!

This makes people feel special and lets them know that you ar busy and are looking to talk to people who are serious, committed, dedicated, etc. It communicates Professional Posture, confidence (not neediness) and makes them value your Intro Session offer.

CSF #4. USE A SYSTEM FOR INTRO SESSION REGISTRATIONS

Once you extend your Intro Session offer, you must have a smooth, straightforward and professional system that makes it easy for people to sign up.

We like the "clipboard approach" where you have a clipboard in the back of the room that lists the time slots you are available for Intro Sessions. The form should also include space for their name, email address and phone number. (Helping The Helper members can download a template of this form to customize and use - just visit the Marketing Toolkit pages at www.helpingthehelper.com.)

It can also work really well to have somebody assisting you at the back table near the clipboard.  After a talk, several people will come to the front of the room and want to visit with you. You want to be able to give them your undivided attention and support. You do not want to be worried about whether people are signing up for Intro Sessions or if they have questions. Have somebody handle this for you!
 
Ideally, find someone who knows you and your work, so they can answer questions gracefully and speak on your behalf. It's also fabulous for your Professional Posture to have an assistant with you at your talks.  It conveys that you are an experienced speaker and healer and have a successful practice - without you saying a word!

We encourage you to keep these 4 Critical Success Factors in mind the next time you are speaking to an audience. And of course, the absolute most important Critical Success Factor is...

YOU MUST GET OUT AND START SPEAKING!

So if you have been thinking about using speaking as a way to secure clients, think of the Success Stories you've read about on this site... and go out and get some speaking engagements!

Jasmine Samrad (aka "Coach Jaz") is a former business attorney turned life coach, and is founder of Helping The Helper, a popular practice-building program for acupuncturists,  chiropractors, coaches, and other professionals in the wellness and healing arts.  You can read more of Coach Jaz's articles and sign up for the free HTH practice-building newsletter by visiting www.helpingthehelper.com