How Speaking Boosts Your Networking

After attending any event who is it that you remember? Is it Gary Greysuit who stood at the back silently, looking for someone they knew? Is it Brian Boredrone who recited his entire CV plus a list of every baked potato he had ever eaten? Or was it Suzy Speaker who delivered a short but memorable speech?

It's always the speakers who get the most mileage from any event. They are the most visible people in the room, everyone knows who they are, many people want to talk to them,  most know what they are knowledgeable about. They are people who are in the program and promotion for the event and they are mentioned in any post-event posts and articles. If anyone is going to be remembered it is the speakers.

Just attending an event is useful for networking, and with some preparation anyone can make meaningful connections, but by taking opportunities to speak you make it much more likely that the event will lead to interesting results.

Any kind of talk will get you some attention, but if you want the attention to be positive there are some basic rules that everyone has to follow:

1. DON'T SELL FROM THE STAGE. If you have been invited to speak take a content marketing approach and speak about an interesting topic related to your expertise. Don't use the stage for selling yourself, your product or your company. If you are selling insurance, for example, you might tell some curious story from the history of insurance rather than listing the selling points of your products. Your goal in a talk is to build reputation, not pitch a product, except for specific pitching events where this is the goal.

2. BE INTERESTING. Avoid too much unnecessary detail, don't repeat old stories you have read everywhere and test your content on smaller audiences and friends to identify the parts that you think are great but everyone else hates. Create a first draft that is too long then prune it to remove the least interesting parts and the rest will be stronger. Be careful also to not oversell an idea by making too many arguments for it. Three reasons for doing something will always be stronger and more exciting than 13 reasons.

3. BE BRIEF. Most speaking slots are likely to be brief, but aim to be brief anyway. To keep people's attention for more than 20 minutes is extremely difficult and you can share many ideas in just a few minutes. TED and TEDx talks are never more than 18 minutes yet manage to be very rich in content. This is especially important if the talk is being recorded for a video. People might sit in a conference room for an hour listening to you talk -- though they are probably checking their social media -- but convincing someone to watch a 60 minute video is a challenge.

There are also some practical considerations. First of all, make sure that you are going to stay after you have spoken. Speak-and-run is a very poor tactic because there are always people who would like to talk to speakers but you have to give them an opportunity to do so. And consider wearing something distinctive, because at some events everyone looks the same, so I sometimes find in my notes comments like "lumberjack shirt" which I make to ensure I can identify the speaker in the melée during the break. For the same reason you should also make sure that the picture you provide for the program actually looks like you.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81. There's also more information on http://andrewhennigan.com.


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