To some, public speaking comes naturally.
If you’re one of these rare specimens of humankind, we’re impressed. A lot goes into preparing for a speaking engagement that finally comes together when you take that first breath and start talking. However, there’s more you can do to maximize your event appearance besides creating a PowerPoint, posting on social media and picturing the audience members in their underwear.
What really makes you a great speaker is the story you tell. However, sometimes the tricky part is getting the right people to listen in the first place. Say you’re locked in as the speaker at a conference or an event, but you need to get the word out. How can you make sure that you’re doing everything you can to capitalize on the opportunity? How will you be able to meet as many new people as possible and even engage new potential leads from these events?
The answer begins with content marketing.
Here’s a guide on how you can use content from the minute you get accepted as a conference speaker to weeks afterward:
Before your event
If you aren’t prepping and actively creating content to engage potential conference attendees leading up to the event, then you’re missing an opportunity. You don’t have to exhaust yourself, but here are a few things worth doing:
- Create a blog post about the event to inform your audience.
- Schedule social promotion.
- Email your contacts.
During the event
There’s plenty you and your team members (even if they’re didn’t attend the conference) could be doing while you’re at the event to help you get the most out of the experience.
1. Live tweet. Many conferences today find ways to incorporate social media into their events. For example, at HubSpot’s yearly INBOUND conference, there’s usually a feed of tweets that is displayed on a monitor on the main floor. It pulls all the tweets that use the conference’s hashtag and puts them front and center for attendees to see. Getting your company’s Twitter or other social handles seen on such a visible display could mean more followers, and it can help get your company more attention while there.
2. Bring something to give session attendees. If the conference allows, you should bring something to give out to people who are attending your conference session. In the past, we’ve brought John Hall’s book, “Top of Mind” and worksheets that we put together based on what the session was about. These gifts are great because they serve as a lasting reminder about you, your brand, and your session.
3. Include contact information and “office hours” in your session presentation deck. Make sure that the presentation deck you’ve prepared has a page at the end dedicated to contacting you. It should list your social media channels as well as your email.
Sometimes, sessions can seem so impersonal. So to counteract that, offer “office hours” on your contact page as well. This allows you to list a time and place on the conference grounds (maybe a Starbucks?) where people can come later that day after your session to meet with you directly and ask questions.
4. Get creative about getting contact information. There usually isn’t an easy and seamless way to get session attendees’ contact information so you can follow up with them directly after the conference. Instead, launch a gated piece of content right before the event, preferably one that is tied closely to what you’ll be talking about, and promote it at the end of your session.
That way you’ll know that the majority of people who download it that day most likely attended your session. This will help you be more specific and personalized in your communication with them.
5. Go to events sponsored by the conference. There are often networking events and happy hours that the event organizers put on for everyone. They can be really fun, and while you don’t have to go to all of them, they are a great chance to eat some free food and casually mingle and network. Make sure you have some of your content on hand or can easily pull it up on your mobile device to show people who you are and what you know.
After the event
Once you’re back in the office, the real outreach can begin. Here are some things you’ll want to do immediately so your contacts don’t forget about you and can easily connect with you again:
Have an outreach plan in mind. Don’t go to the conference without knowing ahead of time how you’ll be reaching out to your new contacts. It might be helpful to already have an email created and ready to send out as soon as you get back. Later, you can follow up with slides and additional resources that open the door for sales-related conversations if a contact is interested.
Keep track of the business cards you receive. Bring some business cards to the event, and make sure you ask other attendees for theirs. Since these are people you’ll be casually striking up conversations with, put together an email follow-up plan that is separate from your other outreach. Make sure it comes directly from your email account and that the message mentions something specific from your conversation so that it’s more personalized and helps your new contact easily remember the encounter.
Applying for speaking engagements requires a lot of time, thought, money, and content. Once you’re there and ready to tell your story, you should feel confident that enough of the right people are there to listen and engage.
How do you prepare for speaking engagements, PR Daily readers?