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Grow Your Business By Speaking

Denise was pleased to be a guest on the SkillBites show recently. To listen to the interview, click here. What follows are the take-aways from that interview.

Speaking is a great way to get in front of your target market, share your expertise, and gain new clients, but how do you get the speaking engagements, and how do you translate being in front of new people into generating new clients? These questions and more were answered by Denise Hedges, business development coach, speaker coach, and guest on this month’s SkillBites Show.

Denise shared an 8-step process for building a speaking practice:

  1. Identify the organizations that are likely to have people in your target market attending their speaking events.
  2. Create a spreadsheet where you can capture the relevant information for each organization that looks to be a good fit … information such as the organization’s name, location, website, program chair or event chair, phone number, email, mission, and any notes from the conversations you have with them.
  3. Come up with a roughly 10 second “positioning statement” or “elevator speech” that says who you work with and what you do for them in terms of concrete benefits.
  4. Create the outlines for at least 2 presentation, each with a catchy, compelling, and descriptive title. Drafting the actual speech can come later … after they book you.
  5. Develop a promotional description for each presentation that identifies a problem or need audience members have, offers a solution or a way to satisfy the need, and previews 3 to 5 take-aways from the talk. These will be your main points.
  6. Start contacting multiple groups. Pick up the phone and call them. Schedule an hour and a half or so couple of times a week. You don’t need a press kit until you’re a big national speaker. It helps if you create a speaker’s one-sheet that includes your bio, picture, speech topics, and promotional descriptions … plus testimonials and a list of groups you’ve spoken to, if you have them. But you don’t have to have a one-sheet to start speaking.
  7. Draft a follow-up email or letter that you can send after you’ve spoken with your contact person at the organization. This would include a thank you, the description of your presentations, a speaker one-sheet if you have one, testimonials if you have them, website URL, link to your book if you’re a published author, and when you’ll call them back. It’s critical this email be professionally crafted in every respect. It can’t have any typos or grammatical barbarisms.
  8. Prepare a “loose script” that features talking points … in the form of bullet points and certain key phrases … of what you want to tell the prospective speech booker about what you have to offer his or her audience members. Practice your part of the conversation.  You might want to include your positioning statement, a one or two sentence description for the two presentations you offer (Two and only two). You want to know what they’re looking for and what they need, and you want to make sure the organization meets any criteria you have. Are most of these folks really in your target market? How many people typically attend? Have there been speakers on similar subjects recently, etc.

Before your presentation, make sure you confirm the logistics. How will the room be set up? Will there be a wireless microphone? Check the batteries. Will there be a meal served to the audience? You don’t want to be speaking while the waiters and waitresses are serving the meal.

Regarding the presentation itself, Denise provided several tips:

  1. Focus on the audience’s needs and wants.
  2. Provide a lot of value.
  3. Be authentic and connect on a personal level.
  4. The first 10 to 20 seconds are critical to make a good first impression and catch the audience’s attention. Don’t start with “Thank you for having me” or your credentials.
  5. State your objective and preview the main points you’ll be covering.
  6. Include lots of examples and stories
  7. Make your presentation simple with a focused message of no more than 5 points.
  8. Have a call to action, which usually takes the form of an offer for free consultation.

Too many speakers lose the opportunity to leverage their speaking engagements by failing to include an offer or they make a weak offer in passing. The offer is what moves the audience from inspiration to action. The offer should be made near the end of the presentation, before the Q&A. Be confident, inspiring, and passionate. Your offer is best if it’s free and it’s clear there’s no obligation.

Make it easy and quick for people to “sign up.” Have a clipboard ready to pass around to every table. Position the offer as something that’s an invitation for people who are serious and committed. It’s not a gift. And tell people the specific purpose of the session … to let them get a first hand, no obligation chance to look at their individual situation and see how working with a professional in your field might be able to help them. Plus, they’ll get to see if you’re a good fit for them and you’ll get to see if they’re someone you can truly help.

When Denise modeled how you make an offer from the stage, she offered listeners of the show the opportunity to do a free coaching session and consultation with her. If you’re a business owner who’s serious about building and expanding your business … and you’re committed to doing the work … talk to Denise. To take advantage of her offer, contact her at

To listen to the interview, click here.


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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!