Topic: Starting-out

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Three things to remember for a successful speaking career

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

For some, presenting is a need. For others, it’s something they love doing and want to do more. But can you make a career out of it? You sure can, I did!

If you are like me, after your first talk, you will want more. Public Speaking is addictive. The applause, the connection with the audience, the fact that you are teaching others. All these elements could be reasons why you want to pursue a speaking career.

But having spoken once, or even a few times, doesn’t make you a speaker. It doesn’t mean you have a speaking career. For that to be the case, something more has to happen.

I’m not talking about money here. I’m talking about being a speaker who gets invited (back) often to conferences. A speaker who gets asked by a company to come in and inform or inspire their staff.

To get to that point, there are a few things you need to remember.

It takes time

Having a successful speaking career takes time. It doesn’t just happen. You need to put real work in it. There are very few speakers who go from a small event straight to the big keynotes or TED Talks. You’ll either have to be extremely talented, have an extremely unique topic or be extremely lucky. In all other cases, you have to at least take a few years to grow.

Question yourself and renew yourself all the time

In all the years I have been speaking, not a single talk I did was a repetition of another one. Yes, elements did come back and some talks were similar. But every single time, I renewed my presentations. To make it better. I questioned myself every single time.

This made my talks better, but it is bigger than that. Because I questioned myself, I grew. I changed not only presentations but styles, topics and much more. I was always trying to become a better version of myself every single time. Constant change will make you spiral up.

Focus on presence

Being a better speaker, to get asked back is more than presenting great content. You have to ‘be there’. You have to have a great presence. Your presence is what makes people listen to you.

If you want to grow, focus on presence. Play with the audience. Become comfortable on stage and use your body to send out a message. Become someone people want to see!

This post in an example of an email in our email tips series. Subscribe below!


Marcus Tandler about handling anxiety, rehearsing, Slidestorms and more!

Category:nerves,Preparation,Starting-out Tags : 

At The Inbounder in Madrid, Bas van den Beld spoke to Marcus Tandler about his experiences as a speaker and any tips he has for other (new) speakers).

We discussed several topics: from Google to Slidestorms (301 slides in 30 minutes!), rehearsing, anxiety, tactics and much more!

Here’s the full video. See a breakdown of the video below!

How Marcus didn’t believe Google would make it big

When Marcus Tandler started speaking in public in 1999, he wasn’t so sure Google would make it. In fact, he didn’t believe it at all when a student in his workshop told him.

Listen to Marcus anecdote about one of his first talks ever:

Why Marcus uses 301 slides for 30 minutes on stage

In the interview we had with Marcus Tandler, we asked him why he has this method of presenting. His answer is both surprising as obvious.

Listen to Marcus talk about the number of slides:

With Slidestorms you have to be sure

If you use Slidestorms like Marcus does you need to be sure of what you say. That means a lot of rehearsal.

Listen to the specific item here:

How long it takes to prepare for a Slidestorm

When Marcus uses a Slidestorm as a presentation format, he needs to prepare. How much? He’ll tell you in this video!

Listen to the specific item here:

Marcus misses his own talks and uses a smiley face!

When Marcus goes on stage, he is nervous. He tries to make himself calm and uses a smiley for that. If it works? He’ll tell you in this video!

Listen to the specific item here:

Prepare your talk as if it’s a Hollywood script

When preparing for a talk, structuring a talk in the right way is important. You need to bring your audience with you.

When Marcus prepares a presentation, he looks at it as if it’s a movie script. In this video, he explains more.

Listen to the full item here:

How your grandma can help you become a great speaker

How barcamps, smaller conferences, your wife or your grandma can help you become a great speaker? They give you experience. As a speaker starting out, you should go to the smaller events and just do it. Get on stage and talk!

And when practicing, practice in front of your wife, your mom or your grandma. Because as Marcus says, if they understand, you do fine!

Listen to the full item here:

About Marcus Tandler:

Marcus calls himself a “search geek and absolutely in love with SEO”. He is known within the search industry by the Twitter handle “Mediadonis”. Many know him as a great speaker and organiser of SEOktoberfest.

Marcus is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at Ryte.com – a SaaS Tech-StartUp with the mission to help webmasters make better websites.

More about Marcus:

His personal website
Facebook
YouTube
Linkedin
Twitter: @mediadonis


Purna Virji (Bing): Speaker advise about Nerves, Structure and Preparation

Category:nerves,Preparation,Starting-out Tags : 

In the past few weeks, you have seen parts of the interview with Purna Virji being published on our YouTube channel and through our social channels. Today, you can watch the entire interview with Purna!

Learning from Purna

Public speaking for some speakers seems to be easy. They look confident on stage. They have a great story and a lot of knowledge. It seems they have no problem being on stage. Speaking for them seems to come naturally.

Often appearances are deceiving. These speakers work hard to get a presence on stage that feels so natural. And they too get nervous.

As a speaker, it is great to learn from other experienced speakers. To learn how they handle nerves. To learn how they first got on stage. In a series of interviews, we talk to these experienced speakers. To get insights from them that help you, as someone who wants to be a better speaker.

In this series, we spoke to Purna Virji (Bing), Marcus Tandler (Ryte), Cindy Krum (Mobilemoxie) and Melanie Deziel (consultant, former NYT).

In the interview with Purna, we talked about a lot of different things related to public speaking.

Purna has been speaking in public since early 2012. She still loves being on stage. Actually, the more she does it, the more she loves it!

Preparing for a presentation

Purna spends a lot of time preparing for a presentation. Including design and everything around a presentation, she spends about 100 hours preparing for a one-hour presentation!

She will start by thinking about which issues the audience is facing. What can she give them which is of most help? The key thing is, how can she add the most value. She will then go and do research about what is available and what is out there.

Her next step is to create an outline in Word. She will fill that in, almost like she is writing an article. In the end, she will convert it to Powerpoint.

Rehearsing for a talk

Purna rehearses a lot for a presentation. She likes to get in at least three rehearsals for a talk. She finds that helps to get the talk to stick in her head and to know the flow.

Purna finds that if she hasn’t rehearsed enough, she will stumble and she will find herself say “uhm” too much. Rehearsal makes that her talks sound better!

Purna has an interesting approach to rehearsing. She doesn’t rehearse in front of a mirror. She rehearses to the wall. After all, the wall is a captive audience and never has a bad thing to say! She practices on her own, in for example her hotel room or her office.

The first rehearsal she does out loud. She then can adjust content and flow. And she knows how her time is! Purna can than adjust her slides accordingly.

Nerves

Why Purna wanted to go into public speaking in the first place, is because she found it to be absolutely terrifying! She thought she would ‘die’ when she would get on stage. She hated it more than bugs or spiders. She wanted to conquer that fear.

For the first two or three years, she was still terrified. But the more she did it, the fear goes away.

Purna believes the fear isn’t a bad thing. The fear comes from caring how the audience perceives the talk and how they get value. Which is good.

To get rid of the nerves, she does things like deep breathing. She tries to change the nerves into excitement. She feels much more comfortable.

Advice

Purna’s advice for speakers who are just starting is to ‘just do it!’ If you give yourself time to think about it, you give yourself time to talk yourself out of it. If you feel there is something you have had a success in. If you have something you are proud of, know that you have value to add! Just go ahead and pitch!

Purna wants you to just go ahead and do it. The more diverse voices there are in this industry, the more the industry as a whole will benefit.

Want more advice from experience speakers? Subscribe to our YouTube channel to find more!


I’ll get back to you on that, or maybe not…

Category:Preparation,Starting-out Tags : 

A sentence often heard in presentations is “I will get back to that” or “I will talk about that later”. This can be both good and bad. Good if you make it a ‘cliffhanger’. Bad if you actually never do get back on the topic.

Bas van den Beld explains this sentence.

Transcript:

You have speakers who are talking about a certain topic and who then tend to drift off. And then they will tell the audience: “You know what, I’ll get back to that later on. This is a point, but I’ll get back to it.”

There’s actually a good way and a bad way of handling that. The good way is very interesting. Because it can help you keep the attention of the audience. The bad way is it’s going to make them very, very, very anxious.

The good way is when you’re using the “I’ll get back to you on that” in a way that builds tension. You’re not actually saying: “I’ll get back to you”. But you’re building up, kind of like with the commercials or with a talk show. “Later on I’ll be talking about… but first … “

When you do that you’re building up tension. You’re building up the expectation that you’re building towards something. And that will keep people’s attention because they want to hear what you’re going to be talking about in the end.

The bad way however is that you keep repeating whenever you start talking about something that you’re going to get back to the audience on that topic later on in your talk. But then the audience sees the time passing and sees that you are getting to the end of your presentation. And they might still not have heard anything about what you are going to get back to. And that means that maybe at the end of your talk, you’re actually not going to get back to the topics that you mentioned before. Because you just ran out of time.

In that case, you’re holding the audience ‘hostage’. And they are kind of waiting for it, but you’re not giving it to them. So that’s when it’s bad.

So, there’s a good way and a bad way to work with talking about stuff later on in your presentation.

Use the good way. Build up the tension. But make sure you can keep your promise. And do it well thought out.


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How I knew I wanted to become (and how I became) a public speaker

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

How do you know if you want to be a public speaker? And how do you become one when you do want to? Everyone has his or her own reasons for wanting to be on stage. If you are like me, there is a deeper reason.

I often get asked how I got to be a speaker. I have to admit, there have always been signs that I wanted to become one. And in the end, they came together. Here’s my story.

The first signs

It was the year 1987. The year my dad turned 50. I was 15 at the time. I remember my dad had organised a party at our house. In my memory, it was in honour of his 50th birthday. He (well, my mom even more than him) organised it in our living room.

The place was crowded. In my memory, it must have been a room filled with at least a hundred people. Though it could have been fifty as well. Memories can be misleading. In any case, it was a full house.

What happens at events like this, is that several different people ‘do speeches’. They praise the person, in this case, my dad, who celebrates. I had decided that this time, I would do a speech as well.

My dad is a natural speaker. He’s also the eldest son in a family of five kids. This means that every time there was a family event, my dad would get up and do a speech. It seemed easy for him. He seemed to enjoy it.

It’s not strange, some would say. My dad was a teacher. He was used to speaking in front of a group of people. And when he became headmaster, the groups weren’t only students in a classroom, but big groups as well.

But he couldn’t only speak well because he was a teacher. It was in his genes. He could speak anywhere.

Turns out, it was in my genes as well. I was lucky. It’s not a given that qualities like that go from one generation to another. Besides that, you have to find out you have those genes. And you have to experience it to know if it’s something you want to do.

The first time I experienced that was on my dad’s 50th birthday. I did a speech. It was one of my first talks ever.

To be honest, I have no idea whether I did a good job. I remember I got some laughs. I remember my parents looked proud. But if I delivered a good speech? I don’t know.

What I do know, is that it was a buzz. A big buzz. The adrenaline pumped through my body. In a good way. The adrenaline wasn’t from fear or anxiety. I loved every second of it. That feeling, the feeling of excitement, I will never forget. And it never left. I can still ‘feel’ that moment. And a bit of that excitement, I still feel when I get on stage.

More signs

Fast forward to the late 90s. I hadn’t done much with speaking in public until then. Not intentional. It had never ‘happened’. I wasn’t that ambitious about these things during college. Even though I could have if I wanted to, I never signed up for things that required public speaking. Thus it never happened.

In the late 90s, the opportunities were there again. And so was the excitement. In my first job, I was working at a market research company. We had done research for the Dutch National Football (Soccer) League. We had to present the results of that research to each football team independent.

I was a junior employee at the time. Most of the time, I ‘tagged along’, where my colleagues were presenting the results. I was helping them set up.

I do still remember that every time I saw one of my colleagues speak, I felt I could do that as well. In secret, I hoped they would say “you do it”.

Only on a few occasions, I had the opportunity to present a few small things. Again, how I did? I don’t know. But I do remember the excitement. That feeling of having a group of people talk to me.

Getting closer

Let’s forward again to a few years later. I had switched jobs and worked at an Internet Startup. This was the early days of the web. We weren’t building exciting apps, AI implementations or something crazy. We were building websites. To be honest, at the time, that was what was revolutionary. As a business, you ‘had to be on the web’. We were making sure businesses got that website, even if it was nothing more than a ‘digital folder’.

My role was in project management and account management. I was the connection between clients and our development team.

It was a young and fast-growing company. We were young. All in our twenties. Which meant most of the stuff we did, we did for the first time in our careers. It was an exciting time. We were pioneering. Not only on the web but as a business as well. We were finding out what worked and what didn’t.

We did a great job. I know we made mistakes. I certainly did. But I also know we made it work, in whatever way possible.

The company I worked at had about 4 or 5 employees when I joined the team. In the years I worked there, the business grew to around 30 employees. This brought new challenges. To handle the challenges, we got help from outside. A group of us, management and project managers, decided to do a training course. The course was in project management, account management and growth.

We hired an expert we knew to come to us and organise a few workshops. In the first workshop, he asked us to present ourselves. Each of us had to do a five-minute talk about ourselves. We all did our five-minute talks. Each in our own ways.

There were people who in a chronological way, explained how they got to the role they were in. And there were those only describing their own roles. Again, I can’t remember how I did. But I do remember two things. I remember I did something ‘different’. It wasn’t a chronological timeline. It wasn’t a description. It was a story. I did it in a different way. Without anyone asking me to do so.

The second thing I remember was, again, the excitement. I was in front of a group again. And I loved it. I loved talking to the group.

It’s the feeling

In all three occasions, there was excitement. The feeling of being able to present to a group of people. To take them on a journey. To tell them a story. That’s what triggered me. That’s what I loved about public speaking back then. And that’s what I love about public speaking now. The excitement.

From feeling to speaking

It wasn’t until almost 7 or 8 years later that I actually got into public speaking though. It hadn’t occurred to me that this was something I could do. Until I became a blogger.

As a blogger, looking for content, I went to events. I got invitations to attend and write about the event. They would give me a free pass to the event, I would write about it. In the ‘early’ days of internet marketing, this was a great exchange. The event gets the coverage and the attention. The blogger gets the content, the attention online (traffic) and the network.

While writing about events, like for example SES London, I found myself sitting in the front row. I would look up to the stage and I would feel some excitement. The excitement was like the excitement I felt in the instances described above.

I knew then, I wanted that excitement. The full experience of it. Sitting in the front row, I felt that I could do what the speakers on stage were doing. Or in some cases even better.

The more I was writing about events, the more I felt I wanted to be on stage as well. I only had to figure out how to get there.

As a blogger, I met tons of new people. Like I said before, there is a mutual benefit for bloggers and the events. The same goes for the speakers and bloggers. Bloggers can help give the speaker more coverage. The other way around, the speaker can help the blogger get attention. Again, think traffic, social media attention, etcetera. And the speaker can help build the network of the blogger.

Having a good network helps for many things. And it definitely helps to become a speaker yourself. In my case, I felt I wanted to do it and I felt I could do it. I wasn’t quite sure how to get there yet, so I needed a final push.

That push came from the network. Those I talked to at events. They started asking me when I would speak about the things I wrote about. In the end, it was one of the organisers who gave the final push. By asking me to get on stage at an event in Amsterdam. He wanted to get local attention and local speakers. And since he knew me, he asked me to speak.

And that was the first time I got on stage for a big audience. And guess what. That same feeling of excitement was there again. I knew this was what I wanted to do.

That excitement never left. It’s what drives me as a speaker. The feeling of helping the group of people in front of you understanding a topic you know a lot about. That is excitement. And that is why I speak.

What about you?

Let me know, what is your reason for public speaking? What’s your trigger? Let me know in the comments!

Learn more about starting to speak:


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The Importance of Speaking in Public for Marketers

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

A few months ago Bas van den Beld was interviewed for the Sitevisibility Podcast on the topic of Public Speaking. Bas talked about why it is important for marketers to be public speakers as well and how to approach this.

You can listen to the interview below, download the mp3, go to the Sitevisibility website or listen on iTunes. Do let me know what you think!

Also read:


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Tips from a conference organiser on speaking: Craig Rayner

Category:Preparation,Starting-out Tags : 

I spoke to Craig Rayner, event organiser. My question was about picking speakers. Want to know what it takes to speak at an international conference? Searchelite conference organiser Craig Rayner explains how he picks speakers and what you should do.


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Starting with Public Speaking? David Iwanow has some tips!

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Public Speaking isn’t easy. And when you are starting out, you need some tips. Lucky for you, every now and then, we talk to experienced speakers. And then we ask them their tips for you!

One of these speakers is David Iwanow. In this video, shot at the Searchelite conference, David discusses preparation, what to do and not to do and gives a step-by-step approach on how he prepares.

Find more insights here and be sure to sign up for our weekly speaking and pitching tips!

Are you looking to become a better speaker yourself? Check out all our options!


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How to Convince your Boss to Let You Speak at Conferences

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

I’ve often talked to people at conferences who would like to be speakers themselves. They come up to me after a talk and share their own eagerness to be on stage. When I ask them why they are not, often the answer is in the lines of ‘my boss won’t let me’.

Unfortunately, it’s something you hear a lot. Management doesn’t feel speaking at a conference benefits the business. Why share “secrets”? Why take away valuable time from office work? They feel the conference is more of a day off than actual work.

They are wrong, of course. There are plenty of reasons for businesses to pursue speaking opportunities. But it isn’t easy to convince them otherwise. Once they make up their mind, you won’t convince them that easy.

Yet you can convince them. It only needs a little bit of persuasion ;-).

You need to focus on two things: making it worth their while and getting them involved. All in the right balance of course.

It’s never about you

Before I go into these two things, though, there is one thing you have to realise: it is never about you. Even though you are the one who wants to speak.

When trying to convince management, stay away from your personal reasons. Management isn’t interested in why you want to speak. They don’t care about your personal brand or your ambitions. They care about the business. That’s where you should focus on.

How to convince your boss

Make it worth their while

First of all, when looking for ways to convince management, look at them. Find reasons why it is worth their while that you are speaking at a conference. Why is it better that you are on stage and not at the office? Why does it have to be you and not one of your colleagues? Answer these type of questions. Those are your first steps to speaking at events.

A few examples of ‘reasons’ that could convince them:

Show the financial benefits

A conference usually costs money. You could, of course, show your boss you get a free pass to the event, so it doesn’t cost them anything, but that won’t do it. You have to show the financial benefits for the business.

This means potential clients. You want to show them, you will speak in front of x-number of potential clients. That’s where the financial benefits start. Potential clients equal potential money. And potential money is where management usually gets interested.

Explain what Branding does for the business

Of course being at a conference is much more than potential money. Branding your business will also help the financial growth in the long run. But branding does a lot more. It eases your talks. It opens doors and it gets attention.

Make sure you show how many bloggers wrote about last year’s conference. Show how many people are in the audience. Show what other branding opportunities there are from speaking at conferences.

Find more reasons for a business to be speaking here.

Get them involved

Second, a big part of convincing your management is making it a team effort. Yes, it will be you on stage, but remember, this is not about you. It’s about the business. Get management (and other internal influencers) involved in the process. If you do so, they will be more inclined to say yes.

A few ways of getting them involved could be:

Invite them

This is the easy part. As a speaker, you often get an extra pass or a discount on a pass. Don’t invite the colleague you’d like to hang out with, invite your boss. If he or she rejects, at least you got him or her interested (and you can still take your favourite colleague). If he does want to go, great!

This means you get to share the excitement with them. This means you are the person who is going to open up doors for him or her. Doors to new businesses and connections. Your boss will be grateful forever. And will be more likely to say yes to this and future events.

Ask for their help

Finally, ask for their help. Tell them you want to do a great job for the business. And that you need their help with this By creating the best presentation possible. Get them involved in what topic to talk about. Get them involved in practising. They will feel part of the show. They will want to see you succeed. And therefore say yes to your request.

To conclude

Of course, every boss is different. Every management has their own reasons to say yes or no. Be sure to find out any hesitations and potential reasons for saying ‘no’ before you ask the question. And make sure you have the answers to those problems.

What do you think, will this work for you? Let me know in the comments!

I hope I will see you at one of the next conferences, as a speaker of course! Good luck!

REMEMBER: SIGN UP BELOW TO GET TIPS AND INSIGHTS THAT NO-ONE ELSE HAS!


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How Public Speaking can help your Personal Brand

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

Public Speaking. Is it worth it? Does it matter? Why is it important for you, or for your business? In this article here, I talked about the importance of public speaking for your business. It definitely can make a difference to your business!

But what about your personal brand. How does personal speaking help there? Is it worth investing time to become a great speaker?

Here are 6 reasons:

  1. It builds confidence
  2. You get to present your ideas to a group of people
  3. Your ideas will get more traction and have more impact
  4. It gets you better jobs
  5. You can demonstrate your knowledge
  6. You will stand out: people will remember you

The obvious answer here is ‘yes’. But why the ‘yes’? Let’s dive into that.

1 It builds confidence

For some people public speaking is terrifying. The thought of getting on that stage and speaking to a group of people can make some people physically ill. Yet when they do it, that feeling of illness turns into a feeling of invincibility. The actual speaking can be the drug that not just cures the nerves, it creates an addiction as well.

2 You get to present your ideas to a group of people

You are someone with an idea. With a plan. And you want to make sure more people ‘get’ that idea. What better place than a conference to start spreading that idea? Yes, you can write about it, but being in a room with sometimes hundreds of people listening to your story: what better way to present your ideas is there? You have direct influence and you can see them in the eyes while you talk to them.

3 Your ideas will get more traction and have more impact

If you are on stage, chances are your ideas will get more traction. You are showing people what your ideas mean and you are telling them in person. This is powerful. More powerful than written language. This means your ideas will likely not just travel further, it will have more impact. Because if those you reach while talking share, they will share with passion.

4 It gets you better jobs

When you are speaking, chances are potential employers will see you talk. And get impressed! Which will open up doors on the job front. You will be more visible, thus more trustworthy and more wanted! From being the next resume that ends up at the bottom of the stack, you become the bookmarked name they want for the job.

5 You can demonstrate your knowledge

If you are building your brand, or even when you are ‘just’ working for a boss, showing what you know is important. It builds trust. It builds Thought Leadership. And it gets you business. Being on a stage makes that you can demonstrate the knowledge that brings you all that.

6 You will stand out: people will remember you

Finally, in a world where information is everywhere, it is getting harder to stand out every day. Writing articles means you are one of the many. When you are at a conference, on a stage, people will see YOU. And when you deliver the right speech, they will remember you better.

All these are reasons for you to get on that stage and speak! And if it’s not for your personal brand, it might be for your business. Is there any reason you shouldn’t get on stage? Let me know and we’ll chat about it!


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Why Public Speaking at Events Matters for Your Company

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

Should you or shouldn’t you be doing public speaking? When you have been attending events, you might have thought “why do these speakers want to be on stage? What’s in it for them?” You could be wondering what makes them do it. But you could also be wondering if you should go on yourself.

Is it worth speaking at conferences? Either for your own brand or for your company? Does it matter? As a speaker myself, who loves to be on stage, it’s easy to say “yes”. Of course, it’s worth it! And it’s fun as well! But like with many things, you have to back that up. In what way is it worth speaking at conferences?

In two posts I’d like to highlight the benefits of speaking. Both for you as well as for your company. In this post, we talk about the company, in another post here, we talk about the personal benefits of speaking.

Why is public speaking important for your company?

At a conference you can find four types of speakers:

  • The independent speakers;
  • The speakers who work for brands;
  • The speakers from vendors;
  • The speakers from agencies.

Why would brands, vendors or agencies take the time to go to conferences and speak? What is the benefit of public speaking for them? They don’t get paid for it, so there must be something else that makes it worth it. There are benefits of speaking at conferences for businesses. But what are they?

If you fit into one of these categories, here are some reasons how you could benefit from speaking in public.

1. It gets you more sales

Public speaking will get you leads
Public speaking will get you leads

The main reason why, especially, agencies and vendors send staff to speak at events is sales. They are hoping to get business out of the event. By speaking they want to attract the attention of possible clients.

When agencies or vendors are pitching their products or services, this backfires. Pitching makes for a bad experience for the attendees. With the consequence that they won’t buy.

More often you do see businesses that ‘get it’. They tell a story, show their brand and based on that, get more business.

When they are on stage they talk about past cases and experiences. With that showing potential clients how knowledgeable they are. At networking opportunities (breaks, drinks, and dinners) they will then make the connection. That is where they can ‘pitch’.

Though most companies won’t get a lot of direct sales from speaking at events, it does set them up for sales. So when sales matters to you, public speaking matters to you.

2. You can showcase thought leadership

Public speaking is an effective way of getting your message across. It can help you to show thought leadership

Your company exists for a reason. That means you have a ‘message’. A message that goes beyond selling your product. It’s your reason for existence. Spreading this message can be part of the marketing strategy. To try and become a thought leader in your industry is one of the tactics.

What better way to get a message across, than speaking at conferences. You reach people who go to the event as well as those who read about it on blogs.

3. They will write about you: free publicity!

Speaking at events can be a great way of getting free publicity. As said, often there are bloggers at conferences. They report on the talks. And they spread what they heard. Get them to write about your talk, and there is your free publicity!

Often the free publicity doesn’t only come from the bloggers. Organisers want to get as many people as possible in the room. To get that, they will create publicity as well. Make sure you are a part of that! Always agree to get interviewed. Write a guest post. Be part of it!

4. You can make your audience think about topics

Public speaking opportunities make that you can make your audience think about specific topics. People need a reason to buy. That means they need to first see a ‘problem’.

If the audience doesn’t see not buying your products or services as a problem, you won’t sell much. To make them aware of that problem, you need to show them that problem. Whether it is at a conference or in a pitch, you need to be able to tell the right story. Get them to see a problem and see that you are the solution to that problem.

Public speaking is a great way of getting people to think about topics. Topics that further on in the consumer journey might lead to people looking for your product.

5. Getting access to sources of financing

Public speaking is a great way of getting the attention of those that can help your business further. These can be investors, your first customers or banks. Once they see you on stage, showing your knowledge, they start to trust you. With the right story, the right financier will think their money is in the right place with you.

So if your company matters to you. You should care about public speaking. Because yes, public speaking matters today. And if you also think it’s important, you better speak up…


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Surprising mistakes most speakers don’t know they make

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

Many speakers have some ‘tricks up their sleeve’. Things that will help them be more memorable, or look more professional. Some of these tactics (because that is what they are) are well known. Taking the selfie with the audience. Getting interaction by asking questions, you name it. Yet some tactics might actually backfire.

Without the speaker realising what went wrong.

Sometimes in the effort of being memorable, entertaining or helpful, speakers make mistakes. Mistakes that they aren’t aware off. But mistakes that can have a devastating effect.

If you are a speaker, be aware of the following tactics and how they could backfire.

“Engaging” the audience, or are you scaring them?

It’s what every speaker wants: an engaged audience. They are focusing and connecting with you. Some speakers will go ‘all out’ trying to engage the audience. “Get them involved”.

A popular thing to do amongst speakers is letting the audience ‘take part’. This can vary. From asking people to physically take part to asking the audience questions. Even getting them on stage sometimes.

Just look at how this sales speaker gets the audience to sing a song:

Now, this looks like fun (for some). But there is something speakers often don’t realise. ‘Engagement’ doesn’t always mean it’s the audience, that has to do something.

Sometimes it’s the speaker who gets close to the audience. I saw Avinash Kaushik do a great job with this at SMXL Milan.

There is a big danger, though. For many people in the audience, it can be frighting when this happens. They might freeze. With as a result that in some cases, it stays awkwardly quiet when the audience is asked to join in…

One thing you have to know about people: most of us don’t like to stand out. With the known exceptions, people in a group tend to respond as the group does. We follow the group. If the group stays quiet, so do we.

This means that getting the audience involved might sometimes not be such a good idea. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. It does mean that you have to think about what it is that you are doing. “Read” the audience.

Know your audience before you speak. And when you do decide to get them involved: make it easy for them. Don’t ask open questions, asked closed ones. So they don’t have to step outside of their comfort zone.

[Tweet “Know your audience when you speak, and make it easy for them to participate, not difficult – @basvandenbeld”]

Giving away your slides before you start

Most of the speakers in the Digital industry love SlideShare. I love it as well. It’s a great resource to have. And at the same time, it’s a great content marketing tool. Putting your slides on SlideShare will help you spread your message. It is also great for your branding. Plus, it helps your audience remember you.

So yes, do put your slides on SlideShare. Just don’t make the mistake of sharing it too soon.

Many speakers upload their presentations to SlideShare before they actually start talking. At the start of their talk, they then tell this to the audience. They also tell them not to bother taking notes or pictures. Because after all, the slides will be available afterward anyway.

If you do this, you are doing something wrong you might not realise. And it has nothing to do with you, but all with your audience.

Everyone is the same when it comes to remembering things. We all need concentration or focus: we need to pay attention to remember things. It’s how our minds work. If we don’t pay attention, we won’t remember.

So what does this have to do with putting things on SlideShare you might ask? Let me explain this a bit more.

As soon as you are telling your audience they will get the slides, you give their brain the signal to relax. And to stop focusing on what you have to say.

They don’t have to take notes or pictures, so they sit back and relax and listen to your presentation. That sounds great but isn’t. Because when they do, they won’t remember as much from your presentation as you might hope they would. They can’t help that, it’s how the brain works. And you just told their brains it’s ok, not to remember your words.

[Tweet “As soon as you are telling your audience they will get the slides, you give their brain the signal to stop focusing – @basvandenbeld”]

And what happens when people remember less of your talk? They will be less inclined to follow up. They are less likely to remember you when the topic comes up. And they will share less to their peers about your presentation.

Don’t fall into this trap. Tell them about SlideShare after your talk, but not before. Keep the focus and attention on you. And share at the end of your talk.

“If we don’t pay attention, we won’t remember. Don’t give away the attention with giving away slides too soon” – @basvandenbeld

A ‘bit’ of bragging

It’s human nature to want to show those you are going to talk to you exist. Proof that you are the ‘cool one’. So what do many speakers do? They turn to bragging. Showing off a little to gain some authority never killed anyone right?

Wrong…

Well, it’s wrong when you turn to the type of bragging I’ve seen many speakers do in the past few years. They brag about going out the night before with the other speakers. About drinking a lot and having a hangover. Or they brag about just finishing the slide deck last minute.

Somehow some speakers think it’s cool to act like you don’t care.

But what you are saying is you don’t care about your audience. You don’t care about them traveling to a city, sometimes 1,000s of miles away from home. You don’t care about them spending hundreds of dollars or pounds on the ticket for the conference. You are saying you don’t care about the conference. You only show you care about getting pissed with speaker friends. And hey, since you are there, why not do a speech.

Is that the message you want to send out? I don’t think it is. But when you are talking about these things, that’s exactly what you are doing.

Stop pretending like the audience and the conference doesn’t matter. It’s them you are there for in the first place. It’s great to hang out with friends, but that is the bonus. Not the talk you


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Is Public Speaking Making or Costing you Money?

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

On my holiday in Thailand, I was thinking about something. Something I’ve seen way too many times in the past 10 years. I was thinking about businesses struggling to make money out of conference speaking.

After my holiday I would be speaking at Brighton SEO. It’s a great conference. I was looking forward to being there. It’s a place to see friends, to meet new people and a place to do what I love most: speaking.

For many businesses, it’s much more than that. For them, it’s a place to connect to potential clients and to showcase themselves. When conference season starts, you know that businesses get nervous again about the conferences.

Of course, they want to make the most out of it! For me, it’s a lot simpler. I’m not looking for new clients at conferences. For them, it sometimes is a matter of life or death. They need to get clients from a conference to make it worth it.

So it’s understandable they want to be at their best at conferences. Either by sponsoring, networking and often speaking as well.

Speaking is the most direct way to get visibility. And leads. If they see you speaking on stage, it’s much easier to come up to you. And you can showcase your knowledge. It’s a win-win situation.

In the ideal scenario, a business has one or more of its employees speaking at a conference. They speak about case studies and teach the audience. After the conference, the leads will come pouring in. Because they made a big impact.

As with ideal scenarios, this hardly ever happens. I’ve seen from up close that businesses actually struggle with this. And I’ve seen many in all the years that I’ve been speaking around the world.

More than often you can hear businesses talk about if a conference ‘was worth it’. And most of the time the answer is “no”.

Why is that?

There are several reasons why conference speaking isn’t ‘worth it’ for many businesses. Sometimes they are targeting the wrong audience. Sometimes they are too sales driven. Sometimes it’s just not their day.

A lot of the times, it has to do with the speakers.

Don’t get me wrong. The speakers work hard for it. They make an effort to create great slide decks. To tell a story.

Yet so many speakers can’t deliver. They don’t connect to the audience the way they could. They lack experience, confidence or just that little bit of professionalism.

And you can’t blame them. It’s not their job. At least, not the main part of their job. Even though it’s part of their job. Often the speakers are practitioners sharing their experience.

This would make for an ideal talk. Because it’s always better to hear from those actually doing the work. The problem is that being a practitioner is one thing. Getting the message across is a completely different story.

If you are a great footballer, it doesn’t mean you will make a great coach.

But we would like the practitioners to get that message across, wouldn’t we? Because of that, it would be the ideal mix.

So why aren’t we helping them?

Often inside agencies, vendors, brands, a list compiled. On this list are the events where the company should be present and speaking. It’s one of the reasons we have created our events list. To help businesses find the right events. When they have the list of events, they add names to each conference. Names of employees who will be trying to get to speak there. Those people get the assignment. But they are lucky if they get time to prepare their talks. Usually, they expect them to ‘just do it’. Or at least with a short amount of preparation time.

Hardly ever you hear about a company actually helping their practitioners become better speakers. Better at delivering the story they build. Better at presenting.

Why? It’s just plain stupid they don’t. Because now chances are the talks will not get the attention they deserve. The speakers will work hard, but won’t have the result for it. All they get is the applause after a talk. But actually ROI, there isn’t one.

If you think a bit more about this you realise something. It is not just at conferences where this is costing the businesses money. It is costing a business money elsewhere as well.

How is a pitch decided for example? A big part of the decision is based on how the company presents themselves. If they have bad speakers presenting the pitch, they are less likely to win. Imagine how much money gets lost there…

Why do businesses not care? Why aren’t they spending time and effort on this? It could make such a big difference in the outcome of a conference. They could actually make a LOT of money on

Why aren’t they spending time and effort on this? It could make such a big difference in the outcome of a conference. They could actually make a LOT of money on conferences. If they would only care.

Start helping your staff become better speakers for crying out loud!!!!

Or do they care?

Maybe they do care. Maybe they just don’t know how. Maybe it just takes away too much ‘work time’ from those within the business to help the speakers. Maybe managers want to focus their efforts somewhere else.

Or maybe they lack the knowledge themselves.

During my holiday I was thinking about this problem. So many times I’ve wondered what on earth those businesses were thinking.

And I realised it was just that: time and knowledge.

They don’t know how and they don’t have the time to put the preparation into it. So they just let it slide. And hope for the one employee that is a natural at speaking.

Are you going to help your staff?

With a little bit of effort, a business can help their speakers become better. And can help them get actual ROI from talks.

What about your business? Are you helping your staff become better? Do you train them?

If you are not, you have a choice.

Do you choose the path of least resistance? Stick with the way of working you have been doing for so long? Are you willing to keep losing money on conferences? Or are you one of those companies that dare to help their staff become better at speaking? One that will make a difference?

Let me know!


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