Public Speaking: A Powerful PR Tactic

Of the many things I do in my profession, public speaking has to be one of my favorite things. There’s just something about getting on stage and sharing my knowledge and experience with an audience that gives me a sense of purpose. What’s even more rewarding is when, after my presentation, members of the audience pull me aside to tell me how enlightening my presentation was.

On July 25, I spoke at the Texas Healthcare Trustees (THT) 2008 Annual Conference on the topic of small community healthcare marketing. The room was filled with more than 300 board members representing hospitals of all sizes across Texas. As I reflect back on the experience, I can see how it could have been a speaker’s worst nightmare.

I was standing in the room doing a self checklist asking myself, “Is my tie on correctly? Is my PowerPoint preloaded and working? Did they check the microphone?” You know, the basics!

So as I was running down the list preparing, some members of the audience recognized me. One hospital CEO said, “Oh my gosh, your presentation last year was so wonderful, I insisted my board members come with me this year to hear you speak.”

Yikes! While I think last year’s presentation was good, the pressure was on for this presentation – in three minutes – to be great!

We all have an impact on others around us every day, even through basic conversation. As a business owner, anything from basic conversations to elaborate community presentations can have a powerful impact and thus reflect positively against business goals.

Public speaking is a great public relations method to get your brand out there, especially when you get in front of your target audience and deliver useful information. It’s a direct hit!

Here are some tips I’ve compiled on public speaking:

  • Do It! – We often think of PR as ink in the press, but it’s more than that. It’s about getting in front of your publics and making sure they know what you need them to know about you. Most importantly, make sure they walk away feeling favorably about your brand.
  • Be Prepared – Develop a powerful presentation that provides value for your audience. The worst thing you want is for them to walk away feeling as if they didn’t learn anything new.
  • Lighten Up! – Yes, presentations often serve a business function. At the same time, they don’t have to be dry and serious. Use a bit of humor or audience interaction to keep them from dozing off.
  • Give Free Advice – Don’t state the obvious out of a text book. Provide advice based on your experience and give qualifying examples. What can you say to help another person/business move forward? Also encourage them to contact you if they would like to know more. A contact can often turn into a lead.
  • Think of New Business – As I’ve stated, finding opportunities to be a guest speaker is a great way to reach your target audience. Think of the new business opportunities that result from your presentation. (Two business days after I spoke, I had my first inquiry based on my one presentation.)

Remember, public relations is about communicating and interacting with your target audience. Make an impact on someone’s life (or business) and share what you know.