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Turn Your Bland Speaking Gig into an EVENT!


Don’t do this any more.

You spend 15 hours writing your Powerpoint presentation. You spend an hour on the handouts, and a half hour planning what you’ll wear. How much time did you spend on GRABBING your listeners’ attention and getting them to remember you for a long, long time?

You know that getting in front of a whole bunch of people is a great way to get business for your company. So you do one or more of these: 

  •     you teach a seminar or offer a free class

  •     you get a speaking engagement in front of a women’s or men’s group

  •     you buy a booth at a trade show

  •     you sponsor a non-profit and get a free table

– however you do it, you’re going to get the chance to talk to a bunch of people.

Why do you think that a speech and some handouts will do you any good?
Why do you think they’ll remember your table with all those flyers on it?

I guess it could happen – you could get a customer or two, but what would you be willing to spend to get most the people in the room to give you a try? Wanna know what that would be worth? Figure out how much your average new customer will spend with you over the next few years. Then give yourself permission to spend a little time and money to make yourself memorable.

First, think like an elementary school teacher.

Teachers know that in order for kids to learn, they need to touch and feel and experiment. It works for adults, too, in the best possible way. Get your listeners to TOUCH and FEEL and TRY, and they’ll WANT.

2. Get Inspired!

To get excited about doing something a little different, do a web search on “event ideas” and use a little of event planner’s magic for yourself! (Click here for some great ideas: Pinterest – and then glance through the other fantastic event ideas for men, women, special occasions, or whatever.)


A personalized fragrance to personalize their experience!
Photo: on BizBash by Jordan Strauss/Invision for Saban Brands/AP Images

3. Consider your product.

Your idea(s) needs to have a tie-in with your product. You want people to remember you, so you need them to get involved with you in the most positive way possible.

What if you have a dry subject, like “Controlling Your Small Business Financials?” You can still get creative. How about using worn brakes and samples of filthy motor oil for your “show and tell?”  Preventative maintenance for company cars saves businesses money. You’d be surprised how interesting women would find this, too, and it makes your intangible ideas amazingly real.

3. Tie it to a catchy title.

Write a catchy title or subtitle for your speech that ties in with your decor — like “burning the candles at both ends” or “planting the seeds for social media,” or “put the brakes on your out of control spending.”

4. Use ALL their senses.

The most memorable products and people are the ones who make us laugh and let us touch and examine things for ourselves, whether it’s franchise sales folders from multiple companies or multiple colors of nail polish. 

If you have a display table and you’re marketing a line of cosmetics or spa creams, haven’t you found that handing out samples is a waste of money? You need to get people to actually play with your products. Help them find the right color for their foundation by getting them to try out the various colors on their hands and get the opinions of others at the table.  Have a chance to speak at a women’s group about your spa or salon? Put a large jar of lotion on every table and have everyone lavishly try it — arms, neck, etc — be dramatic about demonstrating and have some fun!  It’s nearly impossible to get people to buy personal products if they don’t try them.

What about a men’s function?  Check out these sporting event ideas.

event ideas

Men like them too, and no one throws them away. Click to see more

5. Grab attention in the center: centerpieces.

Speaking at a fundraiser or a breakfast, lunch, or dinner? People are always looking for creative centerpieces. What a great way to get in front of your ideal clients — choose the event that will put you with homeowners or business owners, or whomever, and volunteer to provide something fun for every table (and they don’t all have to be the same).

Let’s say you are a landscape designer and want some publicity that will work for you. Pick an event with homeowners, of course. When there are men involved, you need items that don’t look cutesy. How about a succulent for every person at the table, arranged artistically on several levels. (Make sure your your contact information is stuck on the side.) For more plant ideas, click here.

6. Giving a Seminar?
Move the furniture.

Fun ideas for decor and some “show and tell” items are great for classes or seminars, but if you bore them to death with your pedantic style (just like their least-favorite teachers), you still have lost them. If your seminar or group has less than 20 people or so, NEVER sit classroom style. It lets people disengage and just watch instead of getting involved.  So add some special decor touches if you can, but definitely do this:

Are they staying for lunch? These are just tin cans! For more ideas, go to Patchwork Harmony.

  • Move the chairs and/or tables into a circle or horseshoe.
  • Learn names. This is the sincerest way to show you care about them. Use name tags or name cards with big enough names that you can see them and use them.
  • Sit down with the group in the circle. Speak as an equal and a friend.
  • Make a connection. Have everyone say their name and why they are there – then tailor your speech for maximum involvement – ask questions and get their buy-in. (They always say they hate this, but actually it turns out okay.)
  • Break the ice. Give small gifts to people who ask the first five questions. It can be something from your company or as small as a balloon or a rubber duck — it’s the recognition that counts.
  • Use humor. When you know you’re presenting a particularly difficult concept, kid about it! “Everyone who stays awake during this next five minutes gets a pack of M&M’s.”
  • Remember “show and tell”.  Get your attendees to DO something (like use your app to get a free offer from your site), TOUCH something (have things to pass around), and PARTICIPATE (with questions, ideas — it’s why you’re using little gifts).

The whole point is this:  

People want a great experience. Have you ever really wanted to take a class and yet dreaded it as well? That’s how everyone feels, so if you wake them up with something special and different, your listeners will remember your subject matter better….and YOU better as well.  DO something to be memorable!

Please share your experiences!


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  1. Carissa says:

    Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?

    I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at
    options for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of
    a good platform.

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