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Looking to Get in Front of Buyers? Speak Up!

If your PR and marketing communications plan doesn't include a speaker's bureau, you are missing out on the opportunity to influence and connect with potential buyers. That's because - even in a challenging economy - speaking events remain an important vehicle to bring together like-minded people to network, research buying decisions and advance industry best practices and standards. Great PR programs leverage a variety of communications mediums including designing influential presentations, publishing meaningful content, taking full advantage of social networking tools and creating powerful media and analyst relations.

Why are speaking opportunities for executives and managers a strong marketing, public relations and business development tool? Our clients tell us that Devon-designed and executed speaker bureau programs generate qualified leads. Through speaking events, we connect clients with people who already have expressed interest in the subject matter (we know because they signed up for the session!), and provide them with the opportunity to educate their buying audience and position their company as a thought leader.

Much the way an actor, actress or politician influences with the spoken word, presenting your message to a qualified audience enables your company to connect with potential buyers more quickly and advance buying decisions. It can also get your company in front of buyers who would have never responded to cold calling or direct marketing efforts. Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel, said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

As we approach Effective Communications Month, we thought we'd share these tips for an effective speaker bureau program to help you better connect with potential prospects:

*Stay away from over-priced, sponsorship-based speaking engagements. There are plenty of legitimate speaking opportunities that do not require a fee.

*Take the time to identify the best venues to reach your target audience. At Devon, our research associates spend hours each week learning about various conferences, trade shows and speaking opportunities, as well as each event's past and projected attendees to identify the best events for our clients.

*Decide what area of the program you want to participate in such as a panel or workshop. A workshop or breakout session enables you to be the sole presenter. Panels are also a great way to connect with potential buyers. In our experience the best panels are those we've proposed to the conference manager such as pairing a client with an end-customer. By packaging the panel as part of the call for presentations process, you'll raise the probability of being selected (and reduce the chance of winding up on a panel where one speaker dominates the experience).

*Create a compelling abstract, and submit it properly and on time. Abstracts are used to promote the speaker to the conference manager. A perfectly positioned abstract is one where the conference manager can literally copy and past it into the conference brochure.

*Have proof of previous presentation success. Many conferences have strict requirements for references. Be sure to save any feedback forms or scores from previous speaking engagements and if you don't have any, consider speaking at local events such as local trade associations or Chamber of Commerce meetings to boost your credibility.

*Know how to tailor your presentation for your audience. Include an attention-getting opener, and an overview of what you'll tell them. Demonstrate that you understand their pain points, how your solution meets that need and what action steps they should follow. Make the presentation educational, not self-promotional.

*Practice, practice, practice. Not only do you need to create a winning presentation, but you need to know how to present it effectively. Take the time to develop your content and be sure your material is organized. This is an opportunity to influence your audience, and the better your scores, the higher the probability you'll be invited back.

*Promote your appearances. Every engagement should be promoted by a press release or media advisory. Every opportunity should include invitations to the pre-registered press to meet with your speaker. You can also use Twitter to let your followers know where you'll be presenting. Don't overlook the chance to meet with press in the surrounding location as well. Even if they're not attending the event, it's a great opportunity to do a lunch or desk-side meeting while you're in town.

To learn more about The Devon Group's speaker bureau program or how we can help you leverage a variety of communications mediums, send us an email.