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Establishing Thought Leadership through Public Speaking

When IT businesses plan their marketing strategies, they often tend to focus on what they know, the screen. Emails, white papers, social media, blogging… all of these digital marketing components are crucial in our current online marketing world. But don’t forget the simple power of the human voice. Remember how public speaking can help you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Being a thought leader is about expertise, vision, and leadership. This is especially important for companies in the technology sector to keep in mind.

Thought Leadership

Why public speaking?

Speaking to an audience gives you a stage to demonstrate your expertise, as well as your company’s. You can use speaking engagements as a chance to collect leads, of course, but more importantly you can answer questions and create relationships in a neutral, non-sales environment. You let prospective customers get to know you better and build trust in what you offer them.

Who can be a speaker?

Do you want to build a reputation for thought leadership in your industry?  Do you want to be considered a subject matter expert in your field and prove your credibility? Do have a genuine desire to educate your potential audience? If you answered yes to any of those questions, public speaking can put you on the path to your goals.

Where can you speak?

Association meetings, conferences, and conventions all offer you ideal venues. You’re speaking to peers and to interested potential customers. Reach out to organizations and associations in your industry to keep abreast of opportunities for speaking. And you don’t have to wait for an engraved invitation, either.  Organize your own seminar and reach out to your existing leads and social media community. Host it in your office, a shared office conference room, even at your local library’s meeting room.

What should I speak about?

That depends on your audience, your subject matter, and your venue, but there are a few constants. Don’t just recite facts; use the speaking opportunity to connect with your audience on an emotional level through storytelling Remember that you’re not selling your product, but selling your ideas. Again, we’re coming back to the idea of thought leadership. You want to inform your audience, answer their questions, and give them information they can use.

How do I go about public speaking?

Are your palms a bit sweaty at the prospect of emerging from your desk and speaking before a group? The good news: public speaking is a skill you can learn, and there are many resources out there to help you overcome stage fright. Toastmasters International is the classic resource for learning effective presentation and speaking skills – see their 10 Tips for Public Speaking for a helpful start. You might also want to use this insight from Kristina Halvorson, CEO and Founder of Brain Traffic, as quoted at Ladies In Tech: “The best advice I’ve ever received about public speaking is this: Think of the people you’re speaking to as your community, not your audience.”

That idea of speaking to a community is crucial. By reaching out to that community through memorable talks and presentations, you establish your leadership. You develop your overall brand and you make yourself stand out in your community – and for future customers looking for your brand of expertise.

Photo Courtesy of Whitehouse.gov