Public speaking has always been an effective and time-efficient way to build your visibility and create new opportunities while you position yourself as an expert in your particular field.
Although it’s impossible to say when we’ll be able to get back in front of a physical audience again, speaking still has a very important part to play in any well-balanced personal business development plan. However, given the current restrictions, you are just going to have to do your speaking in a different way.
Before COVID you might have:
– Presented updates to your colleagues via knowledge-sharing lunches and other internally organised forums
– Delivered seminars or workshops at the events your firm hosted for clients and contacts
– Given talks at conferences or for trade bodies or networking groups
But despite the fact restrictions are easing, it’s unlikely these will be viable options during the coming months.
This presents a challenge. You still need to stay visible. You still need to showcase your expertise to attract new clients and win new work from the clients you already have … in fact that’s arguably going to be even more important as the market hardens and new opportunities become more scarce.
So how can you adapt your approach?
We’d suggest the answer is to add ‘virtual’ speaking opportunities to your BD plan to tide you over until face-to-face events come back and here are 3 examples to help you get going.
Have you ever hosted a seminar? If the answer is ‘yes’, some of these may be all too familiar gripes:
– It takes 6-8 weeks lead time to turn them from an idea into a reality
– It’s a headache to find a suitable and available venue
– Organising the invitations, car parking and catering is never as straightforward as it should be
– The people you really wanted to come bail out on the day because “something else cropped up” laving you with a C list of freeloaders!
Now compare this to what can be achieved when you run the same event virtually as a webinar:
– There is only a 10-day turnaround from idea to hosting
– You don’t need a venue, just a video conference platform and an Eventbrite account
– There is no catering or parking and invitations can be sent electronically
– More people attend because there is no travel time
In short webinars give you the same opportunity as conventional speaking engagements but can be delivered faster with significantly less cost, resource and hassle. For us, if you or your fee earners are planning to keep speaking in your BD plans, webinars should be at the top of the list.
A roundtable is really just an alternative way to structure a webinar. Instead of having 2 or 3 speakers, you would choose 4 or 5 experts from different professions but with a shared interest so they can discuss a relevant issue from their individual perspectives.
The benefit of a roundtable is it is more engaging for the audience as it will become less of a lecture and more of a conversation.
However, behind the scenes it will also have a positive impact on your marketing drive. During the set up you will have time to strengthen your relationships with the panelists you’ve invited and as you’ll all be sharing marketing duties, you will reach a number of brand new audiences you would probably not otherwise have been able to.
(And of course, taking the time to jot down what your panelists say during the session will give you plenty to cover in your content over the coming weeks which will make that component of your BD plan easier too!)
3. Get to the front of the queue for when the conferences return
Although there is still some uncertainty the smart money is on traditional conferences returning in Spring 2021. If this is going to be the case, conference organisers will be trying to fill their speaking slots in September and October as the picture becomes clearer.
In terms of your BD plan, you need to make sure you are ready to act before your competitors do/ Factor in actions to make sure you are at the front of the queue for the slots you want. A lot of people are talking about “getting BD ready” at the moment but not actually doing anything. It’s as if simply having that idea is enough of a strategy. Instead, if you are serious about securing 2021 speaking slots you will need to:
– Identify the events you want to speak at (even if dates are ‘tbc’)
– Identify the organisers and find their contact details
– Get in touch with them and explain what you’d like to talk about and whey that will be of interest/value to their audience
– Follow up your email when it goes unanswered
There are a number of other considerations we could suggest so if you’d like to discuss how to refresh your firm or chambers’ speaking strategy please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can find a time to chat.