Speaking can take many forms, ranging all the way from wedding toasts and informal presentations with your team at work to TedX talks and lucrative keynote corporate speaking gigs.

Whatever the format, what all of these speaking engagements have in common is the unique opportunity for you to build a strong connection with an audience based on the combination of your content and your inimitable personal brand.

For many business leaders, the corporate keynote presentation is the holy grail of making an impact and adding to their "tribe," or community of supporters. There are plenty of resources to help you develop an amazing keynote presentation and to then land some prime opportunities to present it to the right audience.

Once you have that golden opportunity at hand, don't blow the chance to leverage it for all it's worth in terms of building your platform. Deliver a keynote worthy of a standing ovation, but then capture that enthusiasm and engagement to strengthen your brand and create future opportunities. Here are three steps to start you on the path to being a smarter speaker.

Preparation

The best speakers have a core message that they customize to be specific to their keynote audience. Smart speakers will work with the meeting planner to best understand who will be sitting in the audience, what pressing problem they collectively face, and how the speaker's experience relates to those things.

For example, a sales performance speaker can gather some intel from the meeting planner about the team's prior year performance and work that into his or her presentation. Recent awards, milestones, or other public recognition are usually easy enough to research online and weave into your talk. These little touches make you less generic, and they help to forge a stronger connection since you have personalized your message to your audience.

Execution

During the talk itself, smart speakers will leverage both their book and a feedback form.

The best way to get your book into your audience's hands is to work it into the terms of your speaking fee up front. The meeting planner will arrange to buy a book for each audience member. If that sale runs through retail channels, the speaker will also receive a royalty for each book sold.

Providing a well thought-out, branded feedback form (and pens!) is another way to take convert that audience into part of your larger platform. Include an area where they can provide an endorsement or blurb about your talk (and let them check a box giving permission for you to use it in promotional materials). On the same form, you can ask for their email address if they would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Finally, be bold and use the feedback form to ask your audience if they are aware of any other events or companies where your keynote would resonate. Reaching out to those new leads is much easier when you can say someone who heard you speak suggested the potential match.

Follow-Up

Most events and conferences have a designated hashtag to help organize social media mentions. Using the hashtag is a great way to make sure the attendees see your profile and know how to connect with you online, and the meeting planners will definitely appreciate your efforts to engage. At a minimum, post a thank you message on social media right after your talk using the event hashtag.

After your presentation, move all of the information from your feedback forms into whatever system you use to manage your content and/or lead generation. It's a nice touch to send a quick email note of appreciation to those who agreed to sign up for your newsletter.

And of course, send a follow-up note of thanks to the meeting planner or person who booked you to appear in the first place. Open the door for feedback and suggestions from them, as well - sometimes attendees will be reluctant to share negative (or constructive) feedback about your talk directly with you, so the meeting planner may be the only way to hear that commentary.

Gaining traction as a professional speaker takes time and hustle. You need to do much more than show up and speak to do it well and build future opportunities. Take advantage of these tips to get the most out of your hard-earned speaking gigs and leave a lasting impact with your audience.

Published on: Jun 15, 2017