By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Popular lore suggests that public speaking trumps death, spiders, and other common phobias as the one thing that scares Americans the most. But if you have the gift of gab and don’t fear the spotlight, then public speaking can build your business, give you a secondary income source, and maybe even give you an exit strategy if you decide to leave full-time sales. Speak and Grow Rich (Prentis Hall Press, July 2002; $17.00), by Dottie and Lilly Walters, focuses on advice for readers wishing to pursue a professional speaking career. It also offers tips for those with more modest goals, such as feeling comfortable explaining the local real estate market to a group of business owners. The authors, both experienced public speakers, teach you everything from sources of material to marketing your name. The book doesn’t spend much time on vocal delivery, however.
If you’re just getting started in public speaking, “Chapter 4: From Fee to Shining Fee” guides you through how to solicit no-fee speaking engagements, then transition into the professional public speaking market. To begin, you can use events such as buyers’ or sellers’ seminars or speeches to local civic organizations to raise your profile and generate leads. Public speaking will also help you develop skills that make you a better salesperson— poise, confidence, and clarity.
If you feel that you have a knack for public speaking and want to pursue it further, the chapter suggests how to use these events to create opportunities for paid bookings, which can be as simple as having the person who introduces you mentioning you’ll be available after the show to talk to anybody who might want to book a speaker for a future event. (The authors suggest giving at least 50 to 100 no-fee speeches before charging for your services.) Future chapters cover the ins and outs of professional speaking, including topics such as booking speeches and working with agents.
“Chapter 5: Become the Expert and Leading Authority” shows you how to pull together resources to weave into a dazzling presentation. There is no shortcut to crafting a presentation that will captivate your audience. It requires not only familiarity with your topic, but a great deal of research as well. The authors suggest devouring every periodical, book, and online information source that you can find related to your topic. You should take advantage of information that you glean from certification classes, seminars, and trade shows.
It’s also critical to decide what aspects of a topic you think your audience will find most useful. For example, if your subject is real estate sales, you can draw inspiration from topics such as communication, personal relations, listening skills, and body language. However, the book warns against becoming a jack of all trades and master of none. It also important to distill this information into specific topics. For instance, you might want to focus not just on selling in general, but issues related to selling to Generation X customers.
No matter how great your content is, it won’t matter if no one shows up. And the more well- known you are, the more money you can make at public speaking. “Chapter 10: Becoming Famous” teaches you how raise your profile. One method is to make sure that you are consistent in reinforcing your name to attendees. Small details, such as making sure that your company name and contact information are printed on all of your worksheets and handouts help ensure that attendee don’t leave your presentation thinking, “What was her name?” The book also recommends offering an informational giveaway that they will receive if they contact you in the future. This opens the door for you to offer them more content and develop a relationship with them. Remember, this method is only as effective if participants actually perceive value in the materials you offer. It’s just like real estate; you won’t get very far making promises you can’t keep.
Chapter 10 also explains how to set yourself up as a media expert to increase your name recognition. The “Four Bes of Beneficial Media Relations” can help ensure that when local media need a real estate source that they’ll turn to you:
- Be an expert. Keep you name visible to local media outlets by sending press releases, notes, updates, e-mails and faxes two to three times a year.
- Be current. Watch stories that appear in the media, always asking yourself how you can tie in your expertise with top stories. For instance, if a refinancing boom is big news, then you might offer yourself as a source on refinancing do’s and don’ts.
- Be available. You wouldn’t leave your contact information with a customer and then not be available. Extend the same courtesy to your media contact.
- Be nice. Don’t pout if you get shut out of a story. Concentrate on making your contact want to help you at some point in the future.
You’ve already made a career out of working with people. Professional speaking offers you the chance to parlay your amazing charisma into a second income source. Speak and Grow Rich can help you pursue a life on stage, whether you want to pursue a professional speaking career or just find new real estate prospects in your market.