Public Speaking Gets You Recognition — and Business

speak outPublic speaking is a good way for interior design professionals to create credibility, establish expertise, and get business.

Designers can share their insights by speaking at home shows, conferences of facility managers, “lunch and learn”  meetings for realtors, continuing education classes or other public programs.

It’s an easy way to  make a maximum marketing impact for a minimal investment of time and money.   More and more design pros are offering seminars, courses, clinics, workshops and other programs as a way to get name recognition, and build their client base and bottom line.

Lining up speaking engagements isn’t all that difficult, thanks in large part to the popularity of home shows.  At a time when HGTV reaches more than 80 million homes, there’s increasing interest in the kind of ideas and inspirations that designers can share.

In addition to trade groups, organizations ranging from service clubs to chambers of commerce are always on the lookout for speakers.

Then again, you can always stage your own event. One  veteran Denver designer  landed a remodeling job worth more than $400,000 from one of her  seminars.

Speaking to a group of potential customers is powerful promotion as its best.

“Clearly there’s a marketing benefit to speaking,” Meredith Thatcher, the president of Carroll Thatcher Planning Group in Ottawa, ON, points out.” You become recognized as the defacto expert in your field.”

Teach ‘em what you know – and watch your business grow. Here are some tips on how to add class to your class and book a bunch of business while you’re at it:  

Team Up – Ask a retailer, vendor, supplier or other “partner” to promote and host your program. Point out that it’s a great way for them to reach out to their prospects.

Touch ‘em with your Topic – Focus on a subject you know about – and your prospects care about. Reducing energy bills, motorization, privacy, child safety issues, preparing your home for resale – the possibilities are endless.

Touch  ‘em with your Title – Choose  a program name that catches their fancy – and attention. Examples: “Million Dollar Remodeling on a Shoestring Budget:” “What’s Hot & Not in Window Fashions;” “Turn Your House into a Home for the Holidays.”

Make Yourself Memorable – Add pizzazz to your presentation by including humor and anecdotes. Provide top notch visual aids and handouts.

Make Yourself “Reachable” – Provide complete contact details, links to your website, Houzz and other social media sites, and any other information that make it as easy as possible for  attendees to connect with you.

Sell Yourself – The most important sale is the personal one. Turn your class contacts into contracts by promote yourself as a uniquely-qualified, one-of-a-kind designer.

Dote on the “Do-it-Yourselfers” – Attending a class often convinces individuals that they can’t go it alone in their design project, after all.  Rule of Thumb: Most do-it-yourselfers don’t. They want and need your help.

Focus on the Catalogue, not just the Class – Your course description in an adult education catalogue can bring you lots of business from those who never attend your class. Why? The catalogue may reach hundreds – and the course write-up positions you as an expert.

Get Their Feedback – Provide a form on which attendees can evaluate your program. Use it to solicit their referrals.

Too many design professionals let their fear of public speaking prevent them from giving presentations.

Don’t make that mistake.

Remember that those who attend your programs don’t do so to critique your presentation skills. They come to learn from your expertise about design.

Fred Berns is an interior design industry speaker, coach and promotional copy writer.

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