In our previous blog about using speaking opportunities to build sales pipeline at events, we discussed how companies can leverage speaking sessions to add to their sales pipeline. The success of the speaking engagements can positively influence the sales pipeline built at the event. The greater the value that the audience gleans from the talk, the better it is for the sales pipeline.
The success of the speaking session can be easily gauged by the audience’s response. The best indicator of this is how educative or entertaining (preferably both!) the audience found your session.
The best speakers in the world follow basic principles to inspire their audience to take action. Here’s how you can give your audience a great experience:
Know your audience
A successful conversation depends on framing a relevant message in an engaging way to hold the other person’s interest. A speaking session is not different, with just more people listening to what you’re saying. In order to come up with a relevant message, and to know how to put it in an engaging format, the speaker needs to know the kind of people in the audience.
You can start with some educated guesswork, based on the what the event is about, the size of the event, the geographical location, and duration of the presentation. The audience is going to come with a set of expectations about what they want to know, so you should zero in on their gaps in information to come up with a great topic and the content that goes with it.
Let’s not leave it all to guesswork, though. You can contact the event organizer/sponsor for more in-depth information about your potential audience, such as their work affiliations, age-groups, their level of engagement with the event, and so on.
This is literally the first thing any speaker should do, rather than coming up with a topic first and then trying to forcefully reverse-engineer it to the audience. Which leads us to:
Pick the right topic
Picking the right topic is a sprawling flow-chart of questions and choosing between options. It’s a lot easier to answer all those questions once you have a clear picture of who the audience is. With that, you can make a list of problems they have, and how they could potentially solve it. You could talk about the future of their specific industry, how it’s changing and how they can stay prepared. Looking back at all the talks we’ve participated in, the common thread is that they talk about the future and how we can leverage it to our benefit.
You can also look at what other speakers have covered in the recent past at different events. This might spark off some fresh inspiration for you to brainstorm other topics, and also help you avoid topics that have been done to death.
Now that you have a list of topics that you know your audience is going to care about, pick out the one you have the most expertise with, and you have yourself an engaging topic.
If you are in a position to pitch your product, subtlety is the key. Obvious as this sounds, it’s easy to cross the line and make the talk all about how your product/service is the perfect solution for all their problems. Frame the conversation around the change in the industry that makes your product necessary, rather than the product itself.
Know what you are talking about
Some talks we’ve been to seem to cover a lot of topics without engaging with them meaningfully, offering only cursory glimpses at insights, and often just stating the obvious. This might make the audience feel like you know a lot, but at the end of the talk they’ll feel like they haven’t learned anything concrete. It pays to do your research completely, and offer those insights that are hard to find, and harder to distill into actionable insights.
Having the right data and information to disseminate to your audience is a good start. The next step is to completely familiarize yourself with the material so that you can rattle off all the numbers and facts without having to look at your notes or your slides. This ensures that your flow is not interrupted when you are talking and that there are fewer pauses and fumbles. Being sure of what you’re talking about increases your credibility.
You also need to be in a position to answer any questions that the audience might have, so try to pre-empt what they might ask. You can either work that into your material or keep aside to answer the audience if the need arises.
The benefits of a great speaking session are truly manifold – from increasing your company’s brand recall, building pipeline at the trade show, and improving your product’s awareness. people who attended your talk are much more likely to visit your booth. Following the first principles described above is sure to set you up for a great talk that impresses your audience.