Presentations and speeches are more effective when they reach a wider audience than those attending personally. To achieve this, you need to promote speeches and presentations to reach more of your key stakeholders, the decision-makers you wish to influence, as well as larger audiences. You can promote these activities in several ways to maximize the benefits from the opportunity. In doing this, make sure you increase the impact by making a making a powerful call to action in these activities.
The presentation or speech also needs to directly support your organization’s mission and goals, so consider how it will do this. For instance, a goal may be to increase the number of people who are aware of a particular service and product and who go on to buy it. Or a goal may be to increase the organization’s share price.But also bear in mind that that you won’t be giving away trade secrets by communicating widely.
The activity is a way to increase awareness of the service, product or the organization itself, as long as that information is not perceived by the audience as being blatantly self-promotional. If the audience members do perceive this, you are likely to turn them against you. I have seen this happen at conferences where a presenter outlines case studies or examples that glamorize them and/or their organization.
Capitalize on the promotional activities of conference organizers
If you are presenting or arranging a presentation or speech at a conference, find out what the organizers are doing to promote the various segments delivered at the event. It isn’t wise to passively rely on the organizers to do all the promotional work, because it is probably only one of many they will be seeking to promote. Extra impact and reach should be achieved through your own communication activity.
Firstly, ensure the content of your presentation has potential to influence opinion or behavior, and is fresh and preferably innovative so it can be promoted in the media. Once you are satisfied about this, don’t hesitate to prod the event organizers into promoting it. In fact, if you believe your content has substantial merit, you should pressure the organizers to maximize the publicity for the event and your presentation. If they can’t or won’t, you should step in helpfully and say you will save them the trouble and do it for them. In this way you can ensure the themes from your presentation will get the publicity they deserve.
If the event organizers are doing their job properly, they will most likely want to promote your key points ahead of the event in order to maximize attendance on the day. Their promotional plan can be checked to see whether further mileage can be gained from publicizing it further, for instance, in other regions.
How to directly promote speeches and presentations
Likewise, you can promote the presentation externally after the event. You should stay available for media inquiries after the presentation. Key external stakeholders can be targeted by mail or email with a summary of your main points (most people are too busy to wade through the whole presentation). Important stakeholders include customers, shareholders and bankers.
Publicize content in external publications, in the corporate website and in the media. In addition to major news media, you can write a core article along the main theme of the presentations and offer it to business and professional journals. Promote the key points in social media as well.
Don’t forget: if you are in a public company and you are making important points that could influence shareholder attitudes, you will need to table the content with the stock exchange first as part of a full disclosure regime.
How to propose a speech or presentation to conference organizers
For major events that are listed in the industry calendar, the organizers will usually post a web page outlining the requirements for presentation proposals. Some tips for ‘selling’ a presentation proposal:
- Use a catchy title that is likely to draw interest from outsiders. Make it provocative without being flashy.
- Write a short summary or abstract of the content.
- In the proposal, briefly explain the takeaway for the audience, ie what they will learn and can use immediately in their workplace.
- Include other selling angle such as handouts and testimonials.
- Plus, of course, bio information giving the credentials, qualifications, experience of the speaker or presenter, and the relevance of the talk.
A reactive approach to promote presentations and speeches
In addition to taking a proactive approach, a reactive alternative also can pay dividends. No organization can be aware of absolutely every event on the calendar, and therefore it pays to help event organizers find your organization instead. Event organizers usually try to find presenters by doing internet searches and asking around in their industry. They may also do a search on websites of organizations relevant to the event to see if they can see anything new and innovative.
It is therefore worthwhile to add a “Speakers’ Bureau” or “Subject Experts” to your organization’s website, which provides good information on available presenters and their topics. Some organizations are approached frequently as a result of posting this information. Universities are an excellent case in point.
Also add a section to the corporate website highlighting where executives have presented or will be presenting in the future, and print a summary of their presentation. This will help attract the eye of others. These listings reinforce the status of the executive as an industry expert and they imply to prospects and clients that they can meet the senior executive from your organization face-to-face at the forthcoming event.
Remember internal stakeholders
Many organizations tend to forget about their internal stakeholders. You should leverage the speech by publicizing the key points internally. This can be a valuable way of positioning you with your senior management, peers and directors as well as other employees. You can send an email to all employees drawing their attention to the speech and to a summary or report placed on the organizational intranet or website, and in social media. It is worthwhile to point out the rationale behind the presentation in seeking approval from senior management to promote the content as a direct way to reach key stakeholders and an indirect way to reach many others.