Shelton Interactive

Maybe it’s your first time speaking or perhaps you’re a seasoned veteran on stage. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, if you don’t know how to take advantage of your speaking opportunities, you’re losing out on growing your online platform and much of your efforts are in vain.

Before we jump into tangible ways that can maximize the growth of your audience, it’s important to understand why you’re speaking in the first place.

Why is this important to your online platform?

For some individuals, a speaking engagement is used as a way to establish expertise and thought leadership. For others, it’s a way to generate business development opportunities. Regardless of the outcome and why you choose to speak, these “goals” don’t happen based on one speaking event alone.

As venture capitalist Mark Suster would say, “I invest in lines, not dots.” In other words, his decision is never based on the first interaction – a dot. It’s based on a culmination of events and touch points – multiple dots – that that when added together, form lines. Building a connection with your audience is the same. If this is the first time your audience has heard you speak, you are a dot in their mind. Your goal is to increase and develop these dots and turn them into lines.

For example, let’s say you’re a business consultant who specializes in improving corporate culture. You have just released a book and you want people to either a) buy the book or b) hire you as a consultant.

According to the late Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine, at any given point 3 percent of your audience is ready to buy. That’s fantastic. However, for the other 97 percent, you need to create more dots before they’re ready for your call-to-action (buy the book or hire you.)

online platform

Image by Chet Holmes International

This is where most speakers fail to make the most of their speaking opportunity. They may successfully capture the 3 percent from their event – if it’s a good talk, but they let the other 97 percent slip out the door, never to be heard from again.

So what can you do about it?

How do you make sure that you’re not letting the 97 percent slip out the door unnoticed? The easy answer is you have to build those relationships. For those that aren’t quite yet ready to buy (the 97 percent), you must build credibility and keep in touch with them up to the point when they’re ready to pull the trigger on your call-to-action.

Here are five ways to build upon those relationships from the podium:

1. Know your event

Prior to any speaking engagement, try and build relationships with your audience before, during and after an event. See if there’s an event hashtag. If there is, use it as a way to reach out to individuals on Twitter and meet them in person. There’s nothing that replaces an in person meeting and normally that will have the greatest impact on an individual making a decision.

2. Display your Twitter handle on stage

Your goal here is to keep conversations rolling, even after your speech is over. Again, our purpose is to build upon your initial engagement. During your speech, display your Twitter handle or email on your slides and encourage people to ask questions. Once the event is over, invite them to connect with you on social media and have them ask any questions through these channels.

3. Have a call to action

This is key. Every speech ought to have a follow up purpose where we’re able to capture your audience’s attention. It pains me when I listen to someone speak who has no distinct call-to-action for the audience after the speech. It’s a huge missed opportunity to build your online platform.

Ex: If you’re interested in learning more about what I discussed today, go to my website, *website URL*, and download a free chapter of my latest book.

Make sure that you capture the individual’s email if they’re downloading a chapter of your book.

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Image taken from Tom Rath.

4. Create a drip-campaign

One of the great things about living in the current digital environment is the ability to automate your marketing efforts. Once you’ve provided your call-to-action and people download your product, they have given you access to market to them directly.

A drip campaign allows you to create additional touch points with your audience without much additional effort from you.

Here is a good breakdown of how to create a successful drip campaign.

5. Use your speaking event to form tribes

As Seth Godin puts it, “a tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea.” The beautiful thing about a tribe is that it pushes each individual to be better. If one person in the audience loves your product/service/idea, they are going to share it with the rest of the individuals in their tribe. Use your speech to facilitate the formation of your tribe.

This can be done through various social media channels. One way is by creating a Twitter list of attendees from your event – this is easier if you’ve followed tip No. 1. Another option is applicable if your audience is privy to LinkedIn. If this is the case, a private LinkedIn group might be appropriate for your attendees.

The possibilities on social media are endless. Regardless of which avenue you choose, your goal is to make sure that your audience knows that they’re invited to be apart of your group. This needs to be stated in your presentation – “join my LinkedIn group” or “tweet me and I’ll add you to the Twitter list.”

In Closing

All in all, the best and most effective speeches are ones that leave a lasting impression on audience members. Follow the above tips and see to it that your speech leads to building your online platform and engaging and connecting with your audience. Remember, you’re a line, not a dot.