By Angela Lussier, CEO and Founder of the Speaker Sisterhood
When I started a career consulting business eight years ago, I had about $5 in my marketing budget and all the time in the world to figure out how to grow it.
Recognizing that I needed to meet people and become known in my field, I quickly set out to make the most of my time by meeting as many people as I could while also making the biggest impression possible. How? Public speaking.
Reading those last few sentences, you may have cringed. You may have said, “NOOOOO!!!” If you’re still reading, thanks for having an open mind. I know public speaking is the biggest fear of adults, but I want to make a case for it. Here are three reasons to consider public speaking as a strategy to build your resume, build your credibility, and build your following.
1. It’s Networking on Steroids
When you attend a networking event or industry conference, you might see 100 people in the room. Over the course of 60 minutes, how many conversations can you realistically have? Five? Maybe 10? What if you could talk to all 100 and be remembered by every single one of them? This is a huge advantage over every person in the room because all eyes are on you for 30, 60, or even 90 minutes. You are changing their life in some way. You are the person they are thinking about when they drive home. There is no other way to meet everyone in the room and leave such a strong impression than public speaking. To increase the return on your networking time and build your reputation faster, public speaking is the way to go.
A second reason why public speaking qualifies as “networking on steroids” is because of the networking with other speakers you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Sitting backstage with fellow speakers creates a natural setting for a conversation, versus sending that person an email and hoping to get a response.
2. It’s a Confidence Builder
People often tell me they weren’t born with the ability to do public speaking, so they think it’s not an option. Not true! I used to be petrified of public speaking – even in small groups of 3 or 4 – and when I dedicated myself to improving, I started to gain confidence and build the skill set needed to present. It has taken years, and I’ve watched many others do this as well, but it is a skill that you can grow. As your abilities grow, your confidence grows, and that helps your attitude, which ultimately improves your behavior and results. Even if it’s not easy to start, public speaking is a skill that builds professionals into leaders through ongoing practice and patience.
3. It’s a Gateway to Giants
You may start out speaking at small local meetings, but over time, you’ll start booking regional conferences, dinners, and prestigious trainings. What all of these small and medium-sized gigs do for your reputation is start to create a long list of clients, testimonials, and referrers. The more people who have sat in your audience, the more people who can introduce you to bigger schools, bigger names, and bigger conferences. Once the giants are aware of you, it could lead to new partnerships, new contracts, and new learning opportunities. It’s a matter of building your skills, building your network, and building your brand as a speaker who is knowledgeable and credible in your field.
Once you start doing presentations, proving your value, creating relationships, and carving out a name for yourself, you will start to see returns that you may have one day wondered could be possible for you. As with all marketing, your reputation builds over time through consistent messaging, relationships, a strong presence, and creating a unique presentation people value.
Angela Lussier was a FIX 2017 presenter and gave two talks: “Public Speaking: You’ll Never Be Ready, You Just Have to Start!” and “Booked to Speak! How to Raise Your Profile in Emergency Medicine.” Angela is an award-winning speaker, three-time author, two-time TEDx presenter, and CEO and founder of the Speaker Sisterhood, a network of speaking clubs that help women find their voice and develop the confidence to lead. Angela is creator of the Speaking School for Women and the host of Claim the Stage, a public speaking podcast for women. She is a contributor to Huffington Post and her work has been featured on ABC, NBC, Forbes, Virgin, and Entrepreneur. Her motto: Stop waiting. Start creating.