High-caliber, marketing-savvy professionals and business owners realize that public speaking is not only a low-cost/ no–cost marketing strategy – it is also one of the best ways to position and brand yourself as the local “go-to” expert in your field.

The value of becoming a key-note speaker at local group meetings extends far beyond the event itself. That is, of course, if you do it right. Unfortunately, most people – even pro presenters -- don’t leverage their opportunities as they should. With the launch of www.FreeSpeakerMatch.com it is has become a lot easier to get speaking opportunities.

Small associations simply don’t have the budget to pay speaking fees to a key-note speaker for their weekly or monthly meetings. If they did, they would hire a professional speaker and they wouldn’t need you. But that doesn’t mean they will tolerate a thinly veiled sales pitch from their guest speaker. Rather, educate them on your expertise in a way that is relevant to them and then have a good follow up process. You will build loyal client base of people who respect, like and trust you. (To understand more about what local organizations are looking for, visit www.findafreespeaker.com )

As the keynote speaker at a luncheon or breakfast meeting, you have tremendous opportunities for building your reputation among your existing clients, identifying new prospects, generating referrals, finding other speaking opportunities to your target audience and creating publicity for yourself.

Here are seven essential tips to get you started:

1. Know your audience.

Regardless of the makeup of your audience, they expect fresh, interesting and timely topics delivered by someone they see as a pro presenter. The best way to accomplish that is by letting them know you understand their specific needs and wants. Remember you are there to solve a problem they have or get them closer to what they want. Speaking directly to their specific needs and desires is what will capture their attention. To do that successfully, it is important to do your research. What YOU want is not their concern.

When you find out the specific issues the people in the audience are dealing with in the present, you can weave some of them into your presentation to make it relevant and more interesting to them.

Here is how:

Before the presentation, ask questions of group leaders and read anything available about the target group, to determine:

? What they know about your topic
? How they feel about the topic
? What are the biggest concerns of their members right now
? How do they relate those concerns to your topic
? Will their attendance be voluntary or mandatory?
? What is the typical membership demographic?
? What common interest do the group members share?

On presentation day, arrive early and circulate before you begin:

? Build rapport, make friends and get the audience on your side. As you circulate ask questions relevant to your topic,
? When you see “friends” in the audience (even if they are ones you just met) it will lower stress and allow you to focus on those friendly faces as you speak.

2. Use activities: People retain 20% of what they hear, and 90% of what they say while they are doing something. Activities in the beginning of your presentation will also involve the audience and get you feeling more comfortable.

Pick a message that is win-win for them and you for instance:

“Everyone here today can lose the weight they want to.” Ask everyone to turn to their neighbor, shake hands and say, “I can lose the weight I want to.” This plants positive expectancy, increasing interest in using your services to lose weight.

“It is easier to remember names by using visual or auditory associations. My name is Mandy Bass and I help small business owners market themselves and get gain better positioning and visibility. So if you want to remember my name you might think of a large fish –a bass -- swimming in a small tank, because the smaller the pond, the easier it is to spot a fish…
In the background the Barry Manilow song, “Oh Mandy.” Mandy Bass, for turning you into a big fish. ”

“Now think of how your name can be remembered” (give more instructions and examples.) “Turn to the person behind you, introduce yourself and give them a suggestion for remembering your name. See if they come up with something better. Then switch.”

3. Plan real life examples to fit the audience – Make them feel “that could be me” within the example. If you are speaking to a group of lawyers, use a lawyer in your examples instead of a plumber or insurance agent. If the average person in the group makes $50,000 per year –don’t use examples of people who make $50,000 per month and vice versa.

4. Involve the audience instead of talking about what you do. For instance, “I help people to loose weight. Who will volunteer to share a concern regarding weight loss…?” Or ask “what could keep you from losing weight?”

5. Bring presentation helpers to “work the room” and help you collect feedback forms etc. They can be your eyes and ears around the room. If something is unclear, they can clarify it for the whole group by asking a question.

6. Get contact information:

This is one of the main reasons YOU are there. Don’t blow it. You need a way to capture contact information so that you can follow up or the time and energy you invest will be mostly wasted. Here are a few ideas:

Better than not doing anything:
i. Circulate a sign up sheet during the talk- This works well if the audience is receptive and eager. Otherwise, they may opt out.

ii. Sign Up Sheet- Have helper (or you) complete contact information as people arrive—name, address, phone, email. Assure that the info is legible and complete.

iii. Pre-registration- You may be able to negotiate with the host to do this, particularly if you are speaking gratis.

iv. Offer a drawing for a great prize

Better than the above:

A bribe: Offer a free Bonus, a special report, a copy of the presentation or even a cool (but inexpensive for you) chachki in exchange for them filling out an evaluation form. The form should be short with no more than five questions (in addition to their contact info). One of them should ask if they are interested in a free consultation or some such thing so you can identify any hot prospects, and whether they belong to other organizations who can benefit from your presentation.

7. Timely follow up Within 48 hours, you should make contact, send out your bonus and offer an introductory service or other as planned. At the very least get them to opt in to your email list and begin buiding your relationship with them through autoresponders, newsletters and articles that will be useful to them.

Author's Bio: 

Coaches' Coach, Mandy Bass, is runs Priority Living Systems,(www.PriorityLivingSystems.com) a success coaching and training company founded in 1996 in Fort Lauderdale Florida. She is also the creator of www.FreeSpeakerMatch.com, a website that helps savvy professionals showcase their expertise and connects them with organizations looking for high quality speakers with fresh, interesting and timely topics who will give free talks to their members. For a very limited time Free Speaker Match is giving away lifetime free membership as part of a pre-launch beta test For more info visit:www.FreeSpeakerMatch.com.