By Emily Suess

Public speaking is a good way to bolster your small business marketing plan without tacking on lots of extra expense. Through public speaking engagements, you can bring attention to your business, put a personal face on your promotions, get the word out about your products, and much more.

Giving speeches is an effective way of making your brand more memorable to your target audience, and it serves as proof that you are an expert in your field.

1. Brush up on your public speaking skills.

Before you face any audience, it’s a good idea to get a refresher in public speaking. Speaking to a large audience at an event is much different than speaking one-on-one with colleagues, employees, and potential clients. If you need more than a trial run to get into the swing of giving speeches, think about joining a Toastmasters’ group or signing up for a speech class at your local community college or university.

2. Identify your target audience.

Certain groups will be more interested in the topics you want to speak about than others. Are you more likely to find success talking to mothers? Golfers? Other small business owners? By speaking to your target audience you can improve your chances of keeping everyone’s interest and keeping the audience engaged. You have to take your message to the people that want and need to hear it.

3. Line up speaking engagements.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can begin your search for appropriate speaking engagements. If your industry has a professional or trade association, that’s a great place to start. Depending on your experience and comfort with public speaking, you could give a talk at the local or national level. You may also want to seek out other organizations with closely aligned missions such as charitable and civic banquets, meeting and conferences.

4. Publish your event schedule.

On your business website or bio page, publish your upcoming events so that people know where to find you. The larger the target audience in attendance, the more fruitful the time spent. You can spread the word through social media as well. However you decide to promote your speech, don’t forget to share the title or topic of the speech, making it clear how the audience will benefit by attending.

5. Turn your speeches into written collateral.

The marketing benefits associate with public speaking don’t end when you close the speech. Afterward, you should repurpose the content of your speech. There are many ways to do this including: posting a transcript on your website, turning the speech into articles for your blog, turning audio of your speeches into podcast content, or converting the main ideas of your speech into a case study or white paper.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a confident public speaker, you owe it to yourself and your business to give it a try. Public speaking, like any other professional skill, can be improved with a little planning and practice.