The Ultimate No (or Low!) Cost Way to Market Your Writing Business
Now that a new year is upon us, perhaps you are looking for a surefire, low cost way to market your freelance writing business. If you are, then using group presentation marketing, or public speaking, might just be a fit! It will not only bring you new clients, but it will also position you as an expert, build your mailing list, and create an ever-growing fan base for your products and services!
In part one of this series, “The Ultimate Low (or No!) Cost Way To Market Your Business,” I shared with you where to find an audience that would be virtually giddy with anticipation to hear you speak and how to approach groups to schedule speaking engagements. In this installment, I want to lay out the next step in the ABCs of group presentation marketing: blueprint.
No house is ever erected without a blueprint. No city is ever built without a master plan. No airplane is ever assembled (thankfully!) without detailed specifications. Why should a talk be any different?
I have witnessed many people have an opportunity to figuratively “knock it out of the ballpark” with their presentation, only to get up to the plate, strike out, and lose potential clients, professional credibility, and the chance to set themselves apart from their competition.
The reason? They weren’t prepared.
One time, I watched as a physician froze when a power surge occurred and the computer which contained the PowerPoint of his presentation had to be restarted. He was so dependent on it that when the power was lost, he was, too! He fumbled his way through the remainder of his talk. No one asked any questions and not one person picked up his material. He was a psychiatrist and his audience was filled with people who had experienced the tragic death of a loved one. This ill-prepared doc missed the opportunity to help a lot of people, gain new clients, and promote his practice in a positive way!
Louis Pasteur put it like this, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” When it comes to developing a talk for marketing purposes, prepare for it like it is the last speech you will ever give. Preparing the right way is THE KEY to getting the audience to eat out of the palm of your hand. I’m going to show you how to go about it.
First, determine your subject. This is the big picture. For example, marketing is a subject. But, trying to cover marketing in a 15-minute talk is akin to going after a whale in a row boat with tartar sauce in hand; it’s certainly ambitious but hardly realistic!
Subject is where most people get into trouble — they try to cover too much material in their allotted time. They become nothing more than a rambling speaker, and one the audience tunes out quickly!
Picking a subject is only the first step. Begin with a subject about which you are knowledgeable and that interests you. It should obviously be something that appeals to the group you’re speaking to.
After you have determined your subject, it’s time to decide what aspect of that subject you will cover. This is step two: choosing a central theme.
Picking a central theme will force you to get specific in your talk. Rick Warren, author of the blockbuster book The Purpose Driven Life, likes to say, “Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific.” Let me put it another way: If you want to electrify, you have to specify!
For example, if you are a writer in the financial services industry, your theme might be, “Five Pitfalls of Marketing Your Financial Services and How to Avoid (and Even Profit From!) Them.”
If you concentrate on the nutritional arena, you might use the theme, “Four Reasons Why Most Nutritional Marketing Messages Fail (and What You Can Do about Them!).”
You get the picture.
Notice in the examples I gave “Five Pitfalls …” or “Four Reasons …” This is a simple but powerful way to help you build a dynamic talk. It makes for easy organization, adds punch and pizzazz, and narrows your focus with laser-like precision. There is nothing worse than a rambling speaker who doesn’t know his or her point and thus never gets there!
The third step in building a great talk is to originate. This means it’s time to begin generating the ideas that will form the basis of your talk. Before you try to organize anything, do a data dump.
Type or write as fast as possible all the things that come to mind once you’ve narrowed your topic. If you’re lucky, you should have two to three pages of notes when you’re finished. Those notes will contain the raw material that can be shaped into an appealing presentation.
By the way, don’t try to organize as you go. It will only slow down the process. The idea is to tap into the knowledge you already possess.
After you have completed the data dump, it is time to bring order to the chaos. Scan through your brainstorming notes and highlight the key points that really grab your attention. Start another document with those key points. Under each point, make notes as to why it is important, how to implement it, and then add an example or story that will illustrate it. A good rule of thumb is to never make a point without a picture. For example, if I were giving a presentation on “Why Everyone Needs a Coach,” the first point of my outline may look something like this:
Everyone needs a Coach for Accountability
- Quote: “You can only expect what you can inspect” by Anonymous
- Knowing you will have to report your activity and results makes you less likely to make excuses
- Story: Dan Kennedy and his “get the check” example
This is a brief example of what my rough notes might look like for my first point. The result of my brainstorming session is a skeletal outline that gives me a framework on which I can flesh out my talk.
Step four is when you begin to compose the body of your speech.
Now it’s time to actually produce your talk using the skeletal notes you generated in step three. There are two methods you can use to compose your speech.
The first is to write your presentation out word for word. The goal is to write the speech out so you think through it and internalize it. But, don’t take the manuscript to the podium and read from it. For delivery, simply reduce the manuscript to a few notes which you will use for the actual talk.
Remember that the average person speaks at a rate of 150 words per minute. That means for a 12-minute talk you would need about 1,800 words of written text. By the way, if you are accustomed to using one of the popular speech recognition programs on the market, you can also utilize that to create your first draft in short order.
Just remember that the written word and the spoken word are two different modes of communication. For example, in formal writing, most times contractions are not used and one does not begin a sentence with a preposition. And, you certainly do not repeat yourself! But, listen closely to a conversation and you will hear that the same words are often repeated, contractions are used liberally, and many sentences are started with a preposition. Never mind all of the dangling participles!
The second method of composition, the one I prefer, is to make a detailed full-sentence outline. This full-sentence outline will be your main tool when you move to the rehearsal phase of your preparation. After that, you should be so familiar with your material that you will be able to reduce your outline to a few key words and then give your talk from those.
The full-sentence outline allows you to really think through what you want to say but leaves the actual word-for-word composition for rehearsal and delivery. Don’t let that scare you. You do it all the time in daily conversation. You think a thought, then verbalize it. The full-sentence outline gives you the precision of a written manuscript but that freedom of extemporaneous and conversational delivery.
After composing the body of speech, it’s time to add the introduction and conclusion.
I recommend opening with a story that illustrates a common problem your audience is facing. The solution will be presented in the body of your speech. The right introduction gets everyone on the same page.
For the conclusion, summarize your points and end on a high note with another story, quote, or memorable statement that ties it altogether.
The final step is to energize your speech. How can you “breathe life” into your talk? Give it!
Yes, I’m talking about rehearsal. Practice is vital to smooth out the rough edges and get your timing down. Far too many speakers don't invest enough time on this step. And, it’s obvious when they get to the dais.
How much rehearsal is enough? That depends upon you.
Think about how familiar you are with your material and how many times you've actually spoken before a crowd. Practice until the flow of your talk becomes natural and you can give it while looking at only a few key words on a note card. It is also a good idea to record your practice sessions when possible for the purposes of review and revision. Just remember, it takes a lot of practice to look natural!
Putting together and delivering a talk to promote your freelance business can not only be profitable but also a lot of fun! So, why not begin planning a talk today using these five steps: Subject, Central Theme, Originate, Produce, and Energize.
Use this SCOPE method to prepare your next talk and take your business to a whole new level!
Be on the lookout for the final article in this series in which I’ll show you how to turn each talk into an endless flow of new clients for your business.
Have you ever used speaking to market yourself to potential clients? What little tips and tricks did you use to prepare and deliver your speech? Let me know in the comments below.
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