Power packed presentations

Giving seminars in your community can lead to more business, new income

Alex & Sherri McMillan
Guest Columnists
A good speaker can expect to gain a minimum of one to three new clients at every presentation they conduct. By using well developed speaking skills, you establish yourself as an expert to your listeners. But, as you may have heard, public speaking tops the list of fears people have, trumping even the fear of death. So how do you become a good speaker? Set up the foundation and follow through with practice, education and marketing.

Desire. You have to want to become a good speaker enough to spend time and money on it. And it’s important to note that it will take time, effort and lots of practice. Keep in mind, if you don’t have the desire, perhaps someone in your organization does.

Examine yourself. Do you have knowledge in an area people are interested in? Fortunately for our business, a lot of people are interested in what they can do to look good and feel better. But there are probably just as many people interested in how they can legally reduce their taxes, lower their mortgage payments, protect their assets, apply for a business loan, improve the health of their skin, learn how to invest in the stock market and so on. Decide upon topics you feel comfortable with and that interest clients.

Develop your portfolio. This will help promote you and your presentations to the community. In the beginning, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money on this material; it can be as simple as typing up the information. However, as you become more established as a speaker in the community, you should develop more professional materials. The material should include 3 sections:

• Information about yourself, including your credentials, experience, educational background and contact information.

• Testimonials from those who have attended or commissioned one of your presentations.

• Presentation topics that reflect your expertise. You will want to spend a great deal of time developing this section. The titles of your presentations should be energetic and catchy, and the workshop descriptions should state a problem, a solution you plan to present and what participants will walk away with.

Here is a description of one of our sessions:

Outsmart your Fat Cells: Have you tried every diet only to gain the weight back within a few weeks? And not only that, but are you noticing that you’re putting on a few extra pounds every year? If you find yourself in either of these situations, you’re not alone. Most experts now agree the problem is not with the person but with the process. In this session you will learn the physiological and psychological reasons most people fail at dieting and exercise. We will review the most effective prescription for maximizing fat loss as endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine and you will walk away with 10 specific exercise and nutrition guidelines that have been proven to achieve fat loss effectively, safely, and permanently.

Establish your fees. You must decide whether you want to earn money for your speaking engagements or whether you will use presentations as a marketing and customer service tool. Presenting in our community and at our business is not directly a moneymaking venture, however, we notice a direct impact to the success of our business. It is so beneficial to us that we offer a complimentary seminar at our studio every month.

Market yourself in the community. Approach your local rotary clubs, corporations, church groups, various special interest groups, sporting clubs, clinics and so on.

Practice, practice, practice. You’ve got to practice presenting at every opportunity. For example, if you attend a conference, invite colleagues to a session during which you’ll present a summary of everything you’ve learned at the event. Volunteer to present at staff meetings. Develop and facilitate workshops and seminars for clients. Join a ToastMasters group. When you fine-tune your skills, you can begin justifying fees for your services.

Watch and learn. Rent videos, watch speeches on TV and attend seminars. Observe how the speakers open and close a presentation. Watch for tone and body language. Look for ways that they use humor. Watch for ways they get the audience involved. Take notes on the methods you could use in your presentations. You can also read books by well known speakers like Dale Carnegie.

Alex and Sherri McMillan are the owners of Northwest Personal Training & Fitness Education in downtown Vancouver and Portland. They have authored three books and written numerous articles for magazines such as Shape, Fitness and Self, and have presented health and fitness workshops all over the world. They can be contacted at www.nwpersonaltraining.com or 360-574-7292.

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