Gini Dietrich

Seven Tips for Gaining Business from Speaking Engagements

By: Gini Dietrich | February 22, 2012 | 

More than three years ago, I decided I would go on the speaking circuit to see if we could drum up some business that way.

The first year sucked.

I did 40 speaking engagements in 2010 – some free and some paid. And not one brought us any business. I was getting high scores and great feedback, but the business wasn’t coming.

You see, I’m not a salesperson. I don’t get up there and talk about how great we are. Instead, I deliver speeches that mean something to the audience.

If someone doesn’t walk away with at least three actionable items from an hour presentation, I feel like I didn’t do my job as a speaker.

And I thought that was enough to drum up some business.

I was wrong.

We scaled way back last year. I did only 24 speaking engagements. And guess what happened? We started to gain clients for Arment Dietrich from them.

I’ve been thinking about why that is, and I’ve come up with seven ways for you to gain business from your speaking engagements.

  1. Don’t spend time on your bio. No one cares. In fact, when people ask me how I want them to introduce me, I always say, “Set the expectations low so I can over-deliver.” That always gets a chuckle, but it’s true. People will get a good sense of who you are and where your expertise lies without having to hear someone drone on and on about you. So nothing more than your name, where you work, and one (just one) thing you’re working on. Right now, I have them mention the forthcoming book. That means I’m introduced within 30 seconds and I can take the stage.
  2. Use relevant case studies. You want to use case studies that are relevant to the people in the audience. For instance, this weekend I’m speaking at the Retail Packaging Association trade show. I’ve discovered, of the hundreds of attendees, only five (!!!) use social media. I have created case studies on what they’re doing really well so their peers can learn. Not only will that make them heros of the conference, they’ll be more inclined to want to work with us when they need some help.
  3. Use your own case studies. While you want to make sure most of the case studies you use are relevant to the audience, I’ve found when I talk about results we’ve had for Spin Sucks, it draws a lot of attention. The reason being is that I have access to the analytics and the ecommerce and I can show real results that are meaningful to my audiences. I have one slide I use in every presentation that shows how I link to a Spin Sucks Pro product in a blog post, the in-page analytics from Google, and then the ecommerce. This shows them how I talk about a product in a blog post, how many people clicked on the link, and how many of those converted to sales. People. Love. This. And it demonstrates to them the kind of work you could do for them. Without selling.
  4. Get the audience involved. I like to do things such as ask the audience to stand up. Then I ask them to sit down if they don’t have the following social networks. I start out by naming Facebook and then LinkedIn and then Twitter. And then I start to drill down until there is only one person standing. That person becomes my teacher’s pet and I say so, by using his or her name (see #5) throughout the rest of my presentation. I also know this person is going to be the one I can say, “George, how would you answer Cindy’s question?” when I’m not sure of the answer.
  5. Use people’s names. I like the settings where table tents are used so I can see people’s names beyond the front row. If you call on people, by name, they’ll remember you after you leave. But, if you’re in a large audience, get off the stage and walk around. Look at people’s nametags. Talk to them, specifically.
  6. Provide a leave-behind. Give the audience something they can take home. The main purpose of this is so they have your contact information without having to hunt for it. But if you give them something of value (I always leave them with an eBook that you’d otherwise have to pay for), they’re going to feel like they really got a lot out of your presentation.
  7. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. Depending on where you’re speaking, you can negotiate the conference give you a list of attendees. If they won’t do that, there is one easy thing for you to do. Tell the audience you’d love to send them something – it can be a keychain or a flash drive or an eBook or a link to a webinar – and ask for them to leave you their business card. Or you can have a giveaway during your presentation to one audience member by having people leave their cards in a bowl on the stage. Or you can simply say, “If you’d like to join our newsletter (or blog) list, leave me your card and I’ll make sure it happens.” Of course,  make sure you’re abiding by the CAN SPAM Act when you do this.

There are probably an infinite number of things you can do, but this gives you a really good start.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • MSGiro

    @ginidietrich I’m dying for a post from you that does not involve a number. It’s my birthday wish. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @MSGiro I only do one a week with a number. Bite me.

      • MSGiro

        @ginidietrich how many times? Your favorite numbers seem to be 6 and 7. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @MSGiro The number posts work. People like ’em. The last one I did was 10.

        • MSGiro

          @ginidietrich I know. I know. I’ve felt that success. It’s the Infographic of blog titles. 😉 muuahahhahahahaha

        • ginidietrich

          @MSGiro It totally is. And the bane of my existence.

  • EricMorgenstern

    Great perspective, Gini. My speaking continues to be the best way to build our brand and generate interest. Its still true: those that speak and publish are considered “experts.” I agree with all seven points, although its the follow-up that’s always the hardest.

    Thanks for continuing to share such wonderful tips that provide immediate take-home value.

    • ginidietrich

      @EricMorgenstern Hi Eric! I have a little secret on the follow-up: Hubspot. You can schedule things to go out a day or two after you speak. You just need someone to quickly enter the email addresses in the CRM.

  • Excellent post, @GiniDietrich, filled with ideas we can all use. One other idea, depending on how high stakes this crowd is for you, is to choose one attendee in advance, help them get started with enough Social Media Marketing strategy (or whatever one’s field of expertise is) to begin to make a difference in the 1-3 months in advance, then use them as a case study during your presentation.

    This brings it home as this is one of their peers, is in their industry or profession, makes it all seem doable if they know someone who has put it all together, and shows your chops and what you can do for them.

    • ginidietrich

      @NancyMyrland That is a GREAT idea!

      • @ginidietrich Thanks Gini…oh yes, and if done right, there’s probably a nice testimonial in it too. 🙂

  • johnhaydon

    @JimConnolly @ginidietrich Timely!

    • ginidietrich

      @johnhaydon I doubt there is anything new in there for *you,* but maybe one or two tips will resonate

      • johnhaydon

        @ginidietrich I did, in fact, find two good tips!

        • ginidietrich

          @johnhaydon Woo hoo!

  • I used to do a great deal of speaking engagements, particularly on the topics of goal-setting, motivation, accomplishing priorities and results, usually based on Olympic stories and athletic comparisons. When I had to close one of my companies down, my focus shifted and I got out of the loop. Great timing, great post, as I look to cultivate opportunities to get back on the road. Cheers! Kaarina

    • ginidietrich

      @KDillabough Well, as you know, if done well, it’s a great source of income. Plus your stories are not something just anyone can tell. Get back out there!

      • @ginidietrich Song comes to mind…”on the road again…”

        • ginidietrich

          @KDillabough Oh great. Now I’ll have John Denver in my head all day. That was John Denver? Who knows.

        • @ginidietrich Willy Nelson, mwahahahahahaha

        • ginidietrich

          @KDillabough LOL!! That’s what I get for trying.

  • debdobson62

    Gini, this is an excellent read and I’ve forwarded it to a number of my attorneys who do speaking engagements. Great tips and I’ve shared on everyone of my social networks.

    • ginidietrich

      @debdobson62 Love you!

    • bobledrew

      @debdobson62 This is possibly the only occasion on which the phrase “I’ve forwarded this to a number of my attorneys” is a good thing.

      • debdobson62


        Now you just made me laugh out loud!

  • After attending the Builders Show in Orlando a couple of weeks ago and sitting in on numerous social and seo presentations, I decided I was going to make it a goal to speak at the next one. I feel like they attendees are missing out on what social brings to the table for them and are only being shown how to be megaphones for “self”.

    I have never spoken in front of an audience before, but am unafraid (so far), we will see how it pans out…..

    Great tips BTW!

    • ginidietrich

      @keithbloemendaal The worst part of speaking? The airports and hotels. But once you get on stage…something magical happens. Based on what I know about you, I’ll think you’ll do quite well.

      • @ginidietrich Thanks Gini, we will see what happens. I would like to cut my teeth a few times before next January, but I don’t know where to start.

        • ginidietrich

          @keithbloemendaal Start locally. Try Social Media Club, PRSA, IABC, American Marketing Association, etc.

  • bobledrew

    I particularly like Tip 4. You know the saying “talent borrows / genius steals?” Well, I’m stealing that.

    • ginidietrich

      @bobledrew If the great Bob LeDrew steals anything of mine, I am flattered!

  • ReflectSunshine

    @ginidietrich Hey there! Do you have recommendations for 2012 social media conferences related to franchising?

    • ginidietrich

      @ReflectSunshine Well, you just missed IFA. That’s pretty much THE one to attend

      • ReflectSunshine

        @ginidietrich Ahhhh, bummer! I was gaining some insight from folks who were there and tweeting on behalf of @OwnAuntieAnnes.

  • Hi Gini,

    I especially like number 2, but I also like numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 AND 7! 🙂 This post is now in my notes.

    Working on getting out there and this is a big help. I have a bit of a dilemma though. I have two areas I’ve outlined and actually started writing out speeches for:

    1. Similar to Kaarina, and based on what I most often write about on my blog. You know, that breaking out thing. The only issue here is I’m having a hard time finding a venue. I realize I need to spend a lot more time researching.

    2. The business of marketing, design and branding. What I’ve done for 20 years. I won’t have a problem finding a venue here, but think I might have more fun with #1.

    I might just create a hybrid! Anyway, great stuff as usual Gini.

    You have me amped up this morning!

    • ginidietrich

      @Craig McBreen You know what’s funny? I wrote this as if I were talking to you. So I’m glad it resonated.

      Create a hybrid! That’ll make you special (in the good way).

      • @ginidietrich Did you just call me special 😉 Glad you wrote it, because this is the post I needed to read today.

  • HeatherTweedy

    Great set of ideas for speakers and conference planners alike! Sent this to all the conference planners I know who are always looking for a great way to make their events more speaker friendly.

    Love tip #4 – brilliant idea to create an extra ally in the room.

    • ginidietrich

      @HeatherTweedy I have a whole list of ideas for planners! The big one for me is always the lavalier microphone. I know it’s more expensive, but the presentation is always MUCH better when the speaker can walk around the room, instead of standing behind a pulpit.

  • ethicsforsolos

    @SoloPracticeU @ginidietrich
    Thanks for posting Susan. Very timely as I am giving a presentation tomorrow.

    • ginidietrich

      @ethicsforsolos Good luck tomorrow!

  • You’ll be shocked, but I often use a different name when I attend these things. It saves me from being picked on by the speaker.

    I really like the flash drive idea. That is something that people need, use and want.

    • @TheJackB You crack me up

      • @KDillabough At my college graduation we had to write our names down on 3×5 cards. Just because you walked on stage you would hand over your card and they would announce your name.

        My mother was less than pleased when I walked out as Sammy Davis Jr.

        • ginidietrich

          @TheJackB @KDillabough OMG! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!

        • @TheJackB I am LMAO!

    • ginidietrich

      @TheJackB No! You do?!? I would have never guessed.

  • John_Trader1

    Great post Gini. I used to speak a lot publicly for a previous job and one of my tricks to keep people engaged was to get out from behind the podium and walk right up to them as if the entire presentation was just for that person. I didn’t have the benefit of name cards but one thing it did do was to engage them and demonstrate that I really cared about the topic by looking directly in their eye from a few feet away instead of randomly scanning the crowd from behind a podium. Plus it often brought me to their level. As a result of this, I booked many more speaking engagements because people wanted me to come and deliver that personal touch to another group they were a part of who could benefit from that info. It works.

    • @John_Trader1 I make sure that I make eye contact/ scan the room as I’m speaking. It’s interesting to watch the different reactions, from those who downcast or avert their eyes, to those who have you in eyelock grip, to those who nod up and down…It’s easy to tell, in a room, those who want to engage and those who, like @TheJackB are in alias (or is that alien howie housemusic ?) Cheers! Kaarina

      • ginidietrich

        @KDillabough @John_Trader1 I like to call on the person who is falling asleep. There is always one. Then they pay attention the rest of the time.

        • @ginidietrich @John_Trader1 Ooh, that is so good:)

  • AirPacInc

    I love #1 and wish more speakers would follow your lead! Reminds me of what my mother told me long ago, “Women who have to tell or remind people that they are a LADY usually are not” — Just proves the value or worth is in the product, not the prose!

    • ginidietrich

      @AirPacInc Kind of like telling everyone how smart you are. Clearly you are not.

  • Gini, this was great for me, as you know. Here’s my thoughts:

    1. I could not agree more on this one. I’ve made it a rule that the person that introduces me is only allowed to say my name, and maybe my twitter handle or blog. Like you said, people don’t care about what we’ve done until we warm them up, earn their respect, and give them value.

    2. That’s a great idea, and something I’m working on. People love “real” numbers. When a presenter shows “other” industries, people often times like to say (to themselves) “My business is different, and we’re the exception because…”

    I know I spend a lot of time trying to help people realize their business is NOT the exception to sound marketing/sales principles.

    3. People are usually shocked when I show them the stats of my pool company. One thing I like to do a lot is show the actual money made be certain blog articles I’ve written (because of the leads that came through that post I can track it). These numbers always make some serious eyebrows raise.

    4. Love your little activity with this one. For me, I pretty much never stand on the stage. Two weeks ago I keynoted to 700 people and mingled with the audience the whole time. Folks are used to this and many appreciate the speaker being so integrated with the audience. This is also why I require a center aisle when I speak to enable me to move amongst the group.

    5. Great point. I always ask the participants in the audience at the beginning to make sure their name tags are on so I can call them by name and get to know them. Sometime I even ask organizers of the event to make sure every person has a visible name I can see. Like Dale Carnegie once said, people just love hearing the sound of their own name.

    6. This is one thing I really, really need to work on. Up to this point, I feel like I’ve fallen short on something tangible to take home with them, and I’m really hoping to improve in this area going forward.

    7. Like #6, I’ve stunk in this area as well…so thanks so much for a few ideas!

    Can’t wait to watch you in action at Social Slam Gini. 🙂

    Thanks so much,


    • ginidietrich

      @Marcus_Sheridan Two things: You can leave them something really easily. You have tons of content. In fact, when I go to your blog, there is this little box at the top that says, “Download my 230 page book.” Um, yeah. Give that away.

      As for #7, you Mr. Hubspot don’t already have it set up to send drip emails as soon as you add a new contact? Do that. Now.

      • @ginidietrich Up to this point, I have been using the eBook as my “call to action” at the end of presentations, and it does do well, but I’ve been thinking something a little more “tangible” might be of use also….and with the follow up my mistake has been not taking the time to get all the emails while I’m there, which means no email drips, which means Marcus did a bad job with the f/u 😉

        • ginidietrich

          @Marcus_Sheridan Marcus, Marcus. I will hold you accountable to this one! I see you speak twice in the next couple of months. You will do it!

  • Great list. My speaking engagements have become the number one source of new business for me, thought it doesn’t always translate quickly. Just got back from a client meeting where they contacted me a year after they heard me speak. It stuck with them for a long time and when they decided to really make the leap, they came to me. And I had no clue in the year between that they knew me or were interested. But they remembered it. As a result, I’m really looking to up the amount of speaking that I do, and besides, I really enjoy it!

    • ginidietrich

      @KenMueller If you did that follow-up, I bet you could shorten that year to months.

  • DianaFebrihatin

    @WhitneyPunchak Hi Whitney! I read the tips u just retweeted! 🙂

  • DianaFebrihatin

    @whitneypunchak Hi Whitney! I read the tips u just retweeted! 🙂

  • “I also know this person is going to be the one I can say, “George, how would you answer Cindy’s question?” when I’m not sure of the answer.”

    That is so good! I can’t tell you how good that is!

    • ginidietrich

      @farmnwife I won’t pretend I know all of the answers. So I like to call on those who are perceived experts (teacher’s pets) So they don’t sit there the entire time thinking they know more than me.

  • Robb_Wexler

    @ginidietrich Great article…you read my mind. I don’t speak as much as I used to but those things you listed are key for getting new biz.

    • ginidietrich

      @Robb_Wexler They are. So go do it.

      • Robb_Wexler

        @ginidietrich Alright…will do! Wait….what am I doing? lol

        • ginidietrich

          @Robb_Wexler You’re going to start speaking again!

        • Robb_Wexler

          @ginidietrich Do I get a biscuit if I do?

  • ginidietrich

    @Clarity4theBoss Thanks!

    • Clarity4theBoss

      @ginidietrich – You’re welcome 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @KristenDaukas Ha! You crack me up. Daily.

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,

    Great advice; just a couple of extras.

    I totally agree about being introduced by someone who drones on and on. But people are interested in who you are. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I learnt this technique about 30 years ago from an outstanding speaker.

    Write your own bio. Make it brief, witty and slightly self deprecating. “Leon reckons he knows all there is to know about improving staff performance. But he’s been wrong before. You can make up your own minds at the end of the presentation. If, at any time, you think he’s talking arrant nonsense, just leave. That way, neither you nor he will feel that you’ve wasted your time.” Insist that the person introducing you reads the bio you provide. you might evn add; “If you think that this introduction is inadequate, don’t blame me. I was going to say lots of good things about him . But he made me read this instead.”

    This sort of thing sets the tone for the whole session. At the very least, your audience knows that you’re not gunna be “just another droner.”

    The presentation king in my book, is Bob Pike. In 1989 at a conference in Boston, I was at a session attended by about 1000. Bob had us working in small groups of six merely by clever use of colours and row numbers.

    Hope this helps.

    One other thing: you’ll be remembered for what you say and do differently, not for the brilliance or originality of your message .Be different, be fun and above all, to quote the great Bill Gove, “be yourself.”

    Best Wishes Leon

    • ginidietrich

      @Leon Love that bio. I’m stealing it.

  • I loved this one Gini! It gets the Official Order of the Bookmark. 🙂 Great tips all around but #4 is a really neat trick.

    Looking forward to seeing you speak live this spring, watch these tips in action. Also, because I want to get all this free stuff you and @Marcus_Sheridan are going to be giving away!

    • @adamtoporek It’s in my bookmarks too! But wait, are you saying that you don’t already bookmark EVERY post Gini writes? Show Some Dedication man 😀

      • ginidietrich

        @SociallyGenius @adamtoporek Jeez, Adam. First insufferable and now we find out you don’t bookmark everything I write?

        • @ginidietrich @SociallyGenius I know… hard to believe you still let me hang around here.

  • osvaldouribe

    @socialmouths wow gracias por compartirlo 🙂 – hace unos minutos salió un email para ti.

  • Hi, I’m Tony and want tell you a little about myself… Oops, you said NOT to do that! Love love love this post because want to smack people just talk about themselves or bring up totally irrelevant examples. Thanks for this, here’s to hoping 10’s of thousands of speakers read AND implement your advice we don’t have to sit through any more crappy presentations!

    Is it weird that now want to hijack a presidential candidate’s public appearance while they’re here in Michigan so I can get on stage and implement this ASAP?

    • ginidietrich

      @SociallyGenius If I didn’t know your life goals, I would think that’s weird. But no, it’s not.

  • mediaforceweb

    Great direction RT @socialmouths Seven Tips for Gaining Business from Speaking Engagements @spinsucks

  • cornell140

    @RhondaHurwitz that was a great article — thanks for sharing… I am taking notes!

    • RhondaHurwitz

      @cornell140 check out spinsucks blog … @ginidietrich always has good tips, can’t wait to try these. PS Awesome course! Exciting!

      • cornell140

        @RhondaHurwitz thank you! — I am now following @ginidietrich >> that was a great column

        • ginidietrich

          @cornell140 Thank you!

        • cornell140

          @ginidietrich no, thank you for that excellent column. I plan to use all seven tips!

  • Very interesting Gini, I feel like I’m taking away something from this post. I mean that your way of writing mirrors your way of speaking, which is pretty cool. While PR is not my field of business even if there are a lot of things learned here which become handy in every business, every time I read a post on SpinSucks I learn something more. And that’s why someone should read a blog, right? 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @Andrea Hypno Wow! That’s music to my ears. Thanks for saying so!

  • Awesome post Gini! I’ve been thinking about doing the speaking gig thing.

    Sorry if someone already asked this, but I didn’t see it… How do you find/get the gigs?

    • ginidietrich

      @fitzternet That’s an entirely different blog post. Hmmm…I shall write it.

      I’d start with your local organizations. The trade organizations, the industry organizations, and any organizations where your potential clients hang out (such as attorneys or real estate agents). Because of what you do, I’d look at the PR, advertising, and marketing associations, too.

      • @ginidietrich Thanks for the tip, Gini!

  • Great tips, Gini. I LOVE (all your points, but especially) #1…and I may steal your, “set the expectations low…” line :).

    At the very least, do you tend to gain a lot of Spin Sucks readers, as a result of your speaking engagements?

    • ginidietrich

      @Katie Gutwein TONS! It’s really fun to see people comment, after they’ve heard me speak. I actually watch them through the process. They follow me on Twitter, they like us on FB, they read the blog, they go through the AD site, and then they call. It’s pretty amazing.

  • TSteps

    @ginidietrich really liked this post. These tactic could be used in so many other areas as well.

  • feliciahudson

    Outstanding post, Gini! This is why I’m addicted to your blog (though I don’t always have an opportunity to comment. I should, but you already know I love your blog.) I digress. Speaking is frequently heralded as one of the most effective ways to build a business, but it’s not easy for everyone. Even if you are experienced with pitching campaigns or speaking to a group comfortably, the idea of speaking as an “expert”–all the while knowing your goal is exposure and gaining clients–can be daunting. You’ve just provided us with a blueprint for how to make this a little less intimidating. I think the fear stems from not definitively knowing what will resonate with your audience or what they will favorably respond to. You always so generously share information here that makes me feel like I’m getting special insider info. 🙂 A colleague and I are going to collaborate on speaking engagements this year. I plan on using your tips and will be sure to let you know how we do. Thanks again for all you share!

    • ginidietrich

      @feliciahudson (You don’t have to ever feel like you need to comment – I know you’re out there!)

      I hope you can gain something from my really awful year of speaking that gained me nothing. Report back, will you?

      • feliciahudson

        @ginidietrich I will definitely report back. Funny that you mention 2010 as being your year that sucked because I returned to Chicago late summer that year and a friend and former colleague had recently heard you speak at a morning event and mentioned how good you were. So she turned me on to your blog. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @feliciahudson Ha! So maybe I’m being too hard on myself?

        • feliciahudson

          @ginidietrich Um, I’d say yeah. 😉 I didn’t really quite believe you when you said you sucked anyway. LOL!

  • Just starting to do more of this… good timing for this post! Thanks Gini.

    –Tony Gnau

    • ginidietrich

      @T60Productions In tomorrow’s video, you have a cameo appearance. Which is going to hold us accountable.

  • Have not done many speaking gigs (introvert) or gotten a lot of business from presentations (yet!) but gotta give a big shout out to #1; my last presentation by way of introduction, the headline for my ‘about me’ slide was something like “the obligatory ‘about me’ but you don’t care so let’s move on slide.” Got a nice laugh from the group, set the tone.

    To build onto points 2, 4, 5: I ask questions of the audience, right from the start. I’ll go ‘off script’ to include more of what the audience wants to hear, add to that what I think they need to hear. Or at least, make note of their requests, and when I get to that point, be sure to single out who asked the question, tell them this is their answer. Plus it helps me make connections, so that when I reach out and follow-up, I can include that in my email or LinkedIn invite, personalize it to make a stronger impression. The rest: leave behind, CTA – I’ll have to develop should I get out and speak more. FWIW.

    • ginidietrich

      @3HatsComm HAHAHAH! I love that! LOL!

      And, as a fellow introvert, there is only one way to get out there. Just do it, as Nike says.

  • Oops, forgot this tip/question: speak to the right audience. My limited speaking has been peers (referral network) and small biz managers (w/ no budget), so slim pickins’ in the leads department. It’s that whole ‘where are the fish biting?’ thing; as you limited your speaking engagements, did you decide that some audiences were not the right fit to develop AD?

    • ginidietrich

      @3HatsComm Yes. That’s why I don’t go to BlogWorld and SxSW and the like. Even though I’d really love to hang out with my friends, our clients aren’t there. So if I’m going to spend time away from home, I want it to result in something…and not just a hangover.

  • KevinVandever

    I think I’ve employed most of these at least once. I don’t get people involved too much in my presentations because I hate when speakers do that to me. I may ask questions once in a while but I don’t plan a lot of audience participation. I agree to use people’s names where possible and I always leave a leave-behind…behind.

    Number 3 was key to my getting business when I used to speak at technical conferences. I shared case studies from my personal experience and that went over really well with the audience. Having a book out, relative to the subject on which I spoke, didn’t hurt either, but it wasn’t as automatic as I thought it might be. I would sell books so that was nice, but folks wanted to try the material in the book first before deciding whether they needed additional services from me. That’s where number 7 would have helped, but I never did that very well (at all).

    One thing I would add to the list is to inject your personality into the presentation. The problem with adding this item to a list is that it may become forced. I used to plan humor during my presentations, but I quickly learned that it would often fall flat. I decided to dump the planned humor and inject it more spontaneously. Planned, well-timed humor sometimes works, but I found that what seemed funny at the time I was creating the presentation wasn’t necessarily so funny during the presentation. It has to come naturally. Most of the time I am discussing programming how-to topics. Talk about a potential for a snooze fest. So I changed my speaking style, too. Instead of standing behind the podium with my laptop and pointing to my powerpoint with my laser pointer, I now walk around more and sometimes go into the audience. I ditched the laser pointer and now I walk right up to the screen and touch the screen/wall where I want someone to look. Often times, the light from the projector gets into my eyes when I do this, but it has become part of how I present. I do this even when the mic is not wireless as that adds to the fun. I decided to add a little clumsy, self deprecating, Columbo-like (who remembers Columbo?) style to my presentations but never to the material itself. The material has to be of high quality to pull this kind of thing off. This is risky as you may have people who don’t take you seriously regardless of the material, but I learned to enjoy this style after watching way too many boring, take themselves too seriously, drones spewing out monotone technical jargon. I don’t go overboard. I’m not trying to go slapstick and make the presentation about me, but I have found that if I want future business and want folks to remember me, I can’t be like all the other technical presenters before, and after, me.

    One other thing I’ve done is to offer to continue the discussion in the bar. I’ve even offered to buy the first round. This goes a long way to securing trust and subsequent business with your audience. When I’ve offered, I’ve always had at least one person show up for further discussion. This may not seem like a good idea for an 8AM session, but I’ve offered and that offer has been accepted. The problem is finding a bar that’s open that early. OK, I think I’ve said too much.

    Great list. Thank you!

    • ginidietrich

      @KevinVandever OMG. I have to pour myself a glass of wine to read this.

      • KevinVandever

        @ginidietrich What do you think I had to do to write it?

        • ginidietrich

          @KevinVandever You had at least a bottle. You’ve been taking comment writing lessons from nittygriddyblog

        •  @ginidietrich LOL!
          I just finished the first 3 chapters of the comment – getting another glass of wine for the rest ;).

  • Chris_Eh_Young

    @travisro That @ginidietrich is a smart lady.

  • Chris_Eh_Young

    @bethanyanyalee That @ginidietrich never fails to deliver.

  • Gini

    This post makes me want to come hear you talk!

    Great tips as I am in the speaking for free place… They will help me so I don’t spend a year not gaining at least a little something out of this. Another woman and I will present on Social Media at a Women’s Business conference. Can’t wait to put in place some of the tips you have for engaging the audience and then the call to action at the end!Best,Rajka

    • ginidietrich

      @ExpatDoctorMom Let me know how it works out for you!

  • HLeichsenring

    Excellent point Gini. Thanks!

    Other important points seems for me:

    – where and to whom are you speaking

    – how to get the right invitations

    Kind regards from Germany


    • ginidietrich

      @HLeichsenring I agree! I feel like I should write another blog post about how to get the speaking engagements. Perhaps that should have come first.

    • @HLeichsenring I’ve been a speaker at several real estate conferences. What I did was put together a 5-6 page speaker bio.

      – Page 1: my bio and recent speaking engagements.

      – Page 2-3: list of presentation topics. I gave session titles and a bio of the presentation as if I was submitting it in a speaking proposal.

      – Page 4: a list of previous speaking engagements (names, locations, attendance).

      – Page 5: testimonials.

      – Page 6: fee sheet (sometimes I included this, other times I didn’t).

      Then, I made a list of all upcoming real estate conferences in the next 6 months. I also made a short list of all of the local associations that did monthly or quarterly educational events. I called and asked to speak to their event coordinators to pitch them on why I’d make a great speaker and I followed up with my 5-6 page speaker bio.

      That landed me several, profitable speaking engagements. That’s my process anyway.

      • HLeichsenring

        Thanks Ricardo for these great tips

  • HesterAppers

    @Roland1976 Alleen lachen of ook mee eens?

    • Roland1976

      @HesterAppers Helemaal mee eens!

  • ginidietrich

    @3HatsComm Well, I care about you

    • 3HatsComm

      @ginidietrich Right back at ya. 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @Narciso17 What are you doing?


    @paultencate dank voor het delen. Altijd weer interessant ervaringen van anderen te lezen.

  • 3HatsComm

    @Narciso17 Thanks.

  • Over deliver, over deliver, over deliver and over deliver.

    Do that and you’ll never have to sell a thing. People will want to willingly work with you. Also agree with your point about follow up… What I used to do was promise to email attendees a copy of my slide-deck and/or I put together a 1-2 page PDF with a list of notes on my main talking points and tips. With a shout-out to how we could work together if they should want to learn more about that. Worked like a charm!

  • JenniferGarrett

    @paultencate what subjects do you speak on Paul?

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