If you want to grow your business and reach a lot of people quickly, consider developing your skills as a professional speaker. There are dozens of trade organizations in every major city that need speakers for their weekly or monthly meetings. As a featured speaker, you receive instant credibility and establish yourself as an expert in your field. Your event (and you!) will also be promoted to the entire membership of the organization, even if only a fraction of the members attend.

Be sure to think outside the box. Your presentation can be loosely related to your business, as long as it addresses the needs of your audience. For example:

*A financial adviser could present “Managing Small Business Cash Flow.”

*A Web designer could present “10 Ways to Make Your Small Business Look Big.”

*A life coach could present “Effective Strategies to Build Business Relationships.”

In addition to trade associations, consider teaching at your local adult learning centers and community education programs. Even if only ten students register for your class, your business is promoted in their catalog - which is often sent to tens of thousands of people. Other potential venues include retirement centers, community centers, churches and charitable organizations.

Here are the steps to getting on the speaking circuit:

1) Write a brief and interesting description of your presentation and what attendees will learn.
2) Contact local trade associations that reach your target audience and let them know that you are available to speak.
3) Pack your presentation with useful information. Do not make it a sales pitch for your business! If the audience likes what you have to say, they will want to learn more about you and your business.
4) Your presentation doesn’t need to be formal. Write an outline for your own reference and keep it with you while presenting so you stay on track.
5) Engage the audience by asking questions and soliciting their participation.
6) Use props for visual interest.
7) Give attendees something to keep such as a single page hand-out with tips or a booklet. Be sure to include your company contact information.
8) Respect the time allotted. It’s better to finish early than late—then you can open the floor for questions.
9) Wrap up with a brief pitch for your business and let them know you’ll be available for questions after the presentation.
10) Send the event coordinator a thank you note!
*Optional: Partner with someone in a related field or host your own events.

For additional value, have a product available for sale at the back of the room such as a book, workbook or audio recording. Most organizations are happy to provide you with a display table and the ability to promote your products and services. You can also provide the audience with a special offer. For example, “Save 30% off a consultation when you schedule one with me today!”

You might be surprised by how quickly your business can grow as a result of your speaking engagements. Soon you may find that you don’t have to go looking for speaking opportunities. As you build a reputation and reach the masses, the invitations to speak will come to you.

Author's Bio: 

Stephanie Chandler is a speaker and the author of several business and marketing books including FROM ENTREPRENEUR TO INFOPRENEUR: MAKE MONEY WITH BOOKS, E-BOOKS AND INFORMATION PRODUCTS. For small business resources and tips for growing your business, visit http://BusinessInfoGuide.com and sign up for the monthly newsletter